Good Morning Distinguished Delegates,
I am pleased to welcome you to IMO’s Headquarters here in London, which has become almost the traditional home of WG 1 of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS).
Taking the opportunity of welcoming you to IMO, I would like to briefly refer to the 3 high-level meetings recently-organized by IMO at the Headquarters, on counter-piracy, which are of particular relevance to this working group:
1. The Djibouti Code of Conduct ministerial review meeting was held on 14 May at IMO. The review meeting confirmed that some good progress has been made for the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct but some gaps were also identified. Therefore, we will focus our efforts to help Somalia to reconstruct a prosperous nation with law and order and also we will make further efforts for the protection of shipping lanes in the high risk area of the southwest Indian Ocean in the coming years. On Friday last week, Mozambique signed the Djibouti Code of Conduct becoming the 20th signatory State. This is an important development in view of protection of shipping lanes in the Mozambique Channel.
2. The Capacity-building Conference to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia was held on 15 May at IMO. It shared information on work already done by the relevant UN entities and international and regional organizations in capacity building in the region. As a result of the Conference, we have signed five strategic partnerships arrangements between IMO and FAO, UNODC, UNPOS, WFP and the EU as the basis for our future co-operation in the capacity building work under the Djibouti Code of Conduct; and
3. The high-level segment of the Maritime Safety Committee was held on 16 May. The meeting discussed the need for guidance for private maritime security companies (PMSCs) for the deployment of privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASPs) on board ships. As a result, the MSC finalized interim guidance; and re-confirmed that the ultimate responsibility of permitting arms on board lies with the flag State of the vessel concerned. The Committee also recognized that further work is necessary for international standards to be developed for private maritime security companies and privately contracted armed security personnel.
The outcome of all 3 meetings provides a firm basis for the way forward in our continued counter-piracy work, both on the regulatory as well as capacity building side.
While not diminishing in any way the importance of immediate, preventative measures, an ever-greater emphasis must now be placed on tackling the problem across broader fronts and, in particular, capacity building.
The building of effective counter-piracy capacity and infrastructure in the affected region; the development of proper legal and judiciary infrastructures; undermining the pirate economy and its associated financial model; helping to develop viable, alternative sources of income for those who have been, or may be, tempted to turn to crime are the areas on which further efforts should now be made.
IMO will, therefore, redouble its efforts in continuing with its capacity-building programme in the region. Capacity building in Somalia and neighbouring countries will be enhanced through co operation between and among IMO and the UN, UN specialized agencies and other relevant international organizations such as the EU, building on IMO’s existing capacity-building activities under the Djibouti Code of Conduct.
Co-operation between and among States, regions and organizations holds the key for a lasting solution to Somalia’s problems. Piracy is a symptom; and, while a symptom can be treated and its effects can be alleviated, real progress can only be made by addressing the cause, which requires significant efforts of capacity building.
While addressing the root-causes of piracy, we must, however, not forget there are still a large number of seafarers currently held hostage by pirates. It is imperative that they are released and returned safe to their families. The United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban, in his message delivered on the Day of Seafarers, 25 June this year, stated that the United Nations, including IMO, have achieved real progress by working with partners to combat piracy. But we must do more to offer solutions that include security, deterrence and alternative livelihoods. At the same time, we must recognize the outstanding courage of hundreds of thousands of seafarers who continue their work amidst formidable peril, in this piracy-infested area. Therefore, our efforts in this respect must not be diminished and, in particular, the presence and defence of navy vessels must be maintained and the shipping industry should continue to apply its well-established Best Management Practices.
I wish you a fruitful and successful meeting and look forward to its conclusions and recommendations.