DP World High-Level Counter-Piracy Conference
“A Regional Response to Maritime Piracy: Enhancing Public-Private Partnerships and Strengthening Global Engagement”
27 June 2012, Dubai; main plenary session
“The view from IMO on the current challenge of piracy”
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization
Your Highness, Ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
The number of attacks and successful hijacking this year are at the lowest level now in comparison with the last three years, but still six merchant ships with more than 200 seafarers are kept as hostages in the hands of pirates. Among them, a total of 66 crew members have been kept for more than 18 months. This is the reality and the risk involved in navigation off the coast of Somalia and on the Indian Ocean in this century.
The UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban, stated in his message delivered on the Day of the Seafarer, 25 June this week, 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 and thousands of seafarers who continue their work amidst formidable peril, navigating in this piracy infested area, providing goods, commodities, oils, minerals, products, etc., day in day out to all of us. Shipping carries more than 90% of the world trade on which all of us depend for our daily lives.
IMO has been addressing piracy since 1988. A key component of IMO’s strategy has been to foster the development of regional agreements. This has worked to considerable effect, most notably in the former piracy hot-spot of the Straits of Malacca, Singapore and the South China Sea, where the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), concluded in 2004, became the first regional Government-to-Government agreement to promote and enhance co-operation against piracy and armed robbery.
The benefit of many of the positive lessons learned from the experience with ReCAAP is now being harnessed in the Djibouti Code of Conduct, set up by IMO in 2009 to develop regional capacity to counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden and western Indian Ocean, and which now extends to 19 signatory countries.
Signatories to the Djibouti Code of Conduct, which has been in effect since 29 January 2009, undertake to co-operate in a variety of activities, including investigation, arrest and prosecution; interdiction and seizure of suspect ships and property; the rescue of ships and persons subject to piracy and the facilitation of proper care, treatment and repatriation of seafarers; and the conduct of shared operations, both among signatory States and with navies from countries outside the region.
In addition, the Code provides for the sharing of information, and signatories also undertake to review their national legislation with a view to ensuring that there are laws in place to criminalize piracy and armed robbery against ships and to make adequate provision for the exercise of jurisdiction, conduct of investigations and prosecution of alleged offenders.
In its current form, the Djibouti Code of Conduct represents the outcome of almost five years’ work by IMO to draw together a regional mechanism to enhance maritime security. It is providing a framework for information sharing, review of national legislation, training and capacity building in the region affected by Somali piracy.
IMO has been providing support to Djibouti Code signatories to establish their capacity to implement provision of the Code since 2010.
Under the Code, three Information Sharing Centres (ISCs) have been established, in Dar es Salaam, the United Republic of Tanzania, Mombasa, Kenya and Sana’a, Yemen.
This clearly draws on the model of the ReCAAP ISC in Singapore – and, in November 2011, the piracy information-sharing infrastructure under the Djibouti Code was significantly enhanced with the signing of an important agreement whereby the ReCAAP ISC has joined the Djibouti Code information sharing network, resulting in a major expansion of the reporting area to cover the Indian Ocean coastal States.
The establishment of a Regional Training Centre in Djibouti, in partnership with the EU, is another significant, tangible step towards creating regional capability to counteract pirate activities. We expect the construction of the new building for the Centre to be completed before the end of this year.
Looking further ahead, again in the context of the Djibouti Code, IMO plans to address the protection of the shipping lanes in the southern high-risk area through the Mozambique Channel and the southern and western Indian Ocean. The aim is that the signatory States to the Djibouti Code of Conduct will work together, supported by IMO and other partners, to create a regional co-operative mechanism to this effect.
Considerable emphasis is now being placed by IMO on establishing the capacity for full implementation of the Djibouti Code. We are also supporting the work of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia in implementing the National Security and Stabilization Plan, through active engagement with the Transitional Federal Government and the regional authorities in areas within IMO's competence. This will build on the work already done by IMO through the "Kampala Process", which aims at promoting internal coordination, information generation and sharing within Somalia.
Moreover, there is a growing recognition that only the solution of Somalia's problems ashore will lead to a lasting solution to the problem of piracy. IMO is working actively with a number of other agencies on related initiatives, and recently concluded five strategic partnerships with a number of UN agencies and the EU.
A range of activities are envisaged in this respect. We will, for example, assist Somalia to ratify and implement the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and incorporate its provisions into Somali legislation.
One important benefit of this is that SOLAS mandates compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, which could provide a platform for the development of port security programmes and procedures to enable ports in Somalia to comply with international standards, thus promoting trade by sea and providing additional security to World Food Programme and other humanitarian shipments.
Secure port areas could serve as a basis for expansion of security-controlled zones in coastal areas, policed by land-based security forces, which could eventually link together to enable effective coastal monitoring. They could also serve as secure operating bases for maritime police, coast guards and fishing vessels, in due course.
Furthermore, in partnership with the World Customs Organization and others, our intention is to develop transparent customs and ship’s clearance procedures and thus to facilitate maritime transport through Somali ports.
In a similar vein, we will also offer assistance with accession to, and implementation of, other IMO instruments, such as MARPOL, the London Convention and the Facilitation Convention.
It is also our intention, through the Kampala Process, to select appropriate officials from all regions of Somalia to study at the World Maritime University and the International Maritime Law Institute with a view to their developing and leading the country’s maritime administration in the future.
Furthermore, we will assist Somalia in establishing national seafarer education, training and certification centres and work with flag States and the shipping industry to encourage the recruitment of Somalis to work as seafarers on board merchant ships. And, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization, we plan to help develop a sustainable Somali fisheries sector. Key areas for IMO could include fishing vessel safety, support with general seamanship training, assistance with the registration, monitoring and tracking of fishing vessels, thus improving maritime situational awareness and developing maritime law enforcement and, in particular, fishery protection capability.
IMO will continue to work with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to enhance national federal and regional legislation to counter piracy in Somalia and throughout the region. We will also continue to develop civil-military co-operation, with a view to training Somali law enforcement agents in coastal and maritime duties and to developing Somali coastguard capabilities. We will continue to provide our technical co-operation assistance to Somalia and the Djibouti Code signatories to help them to establish meaningful regional capacity to counter piracy themselves.
Before concluding, I want to mention arms on board. The carriage of firearms on board merchant ships is a complex legal issue and countries hold diverse positions on the subject. It was with this in mind that, in May, I convened the first-ever high-level segment of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) to discuss how the international community should deal with issues related to the deployment of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel and the carriage of arms aboard ships. The high-level segment was well attended at the Ministerial level and, following an intense debate, a set of interim guidelines for private maritime security companies was agreed which, I hope, will help all those involved to reach the most appropriate conclusions on what is a multi-faceted issue of arms on board.
Piracy is a symptom which can be treated and its effects can be alleviated. However, real progress can only be made by addressing the cause, and that lies ashore, in Somalia.
However, in the meantime, we must continue current efforts. The building of effective counter-piracy capacity and infrastructure in the affected region; the development of proper legal and jurisdictional systems; 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: these are the areas on which renewed emphasis must now be placed if piracy is to be brought to an end in that region.
Finally, as the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban, did, delivering his statement on Monday, this week, on the IMO Day of the Seafarer, I personally recognize and feel the hardship of seafarers and the courage of seafarers who continue to work in the piracy infested area and I undertake to redouble our efforts at IMO providing a contribution to the effort of all to counter piracy.