Piracy Conference organized by UK FCO
IMO Headquarters, 21 February 2012
Welcoming remarks by Koji Sekimizu
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization
Ministers, ladies and gentlemen,
Despite the substantial and measurable progress that has been made in combating Somalia-based piracy it, nevertheless, continues to blight the shipping world.
The plight of innocent seafarers held hostage for ransom may be the most immediate and harrowing aspect of this crisis on a personal level; but the increasing economic and social costs, both within shipping and beyond, are also of the utmost seriousness.
Piracy is a multi-faceted problem and to address it successfully will require coordinated activity across many fronts.
The actions taken by shipowners and crews to make their vessels less vulnerable and the efforts of naval forces to provide protection and action to disrupt pirate attacks have had a positive and beneficial effect. But these alone will not be sufficient to bring about an overall solution.
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.
The building of effective counter-piracy capacity and infrastructure in the affected region; the development of proper legal and criminal 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: these are some of the areas on which the spotlight must now shine more brightly if we are to bring piracy to an end.
And that is why I am delighted to be able to welcome you, distinguished delegates, to this conference here today at IMO. It is my firm conviction that IMO Headquarters is the appropriate venue for this important meeting and that the Organization should continue to play an integral part in the coordinated anti-piracy activity to which I referred earlier. I am pleased that we are able to make the Organization’s facilities available for this meeting, organized by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of our host country, the United Kingdom.
You will, I know, be discussing many of the issues I have mentioned and I have no doubt that the outcome of your deliberations will help to move forward our collective understanding of how to address, and solve, the problem of piracy.
Let us never forget that shipping is an integral component of today’s global society. It has a direct bearing on the well-being of billions of people all over the world, taking food, fuel, raw materials and manufactured items from wherever they are produced to wherever they are needed. It is, therefore, in everybody’s interests to ensure that shipping is properly and effectively protected.
Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to IMO, and I wish you a productive and successful conference.