Acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships are of tremendous concern to IMO and to shipping in general. The fight to prevent and suppress these acts is linked to the measures to improve security on ships and in port faciltiies, adopted in December 2002.
The following definition of piracy is contained in article 101 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS):
“Piracy consists of any of the following acts:
||any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:|
||on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship|
||against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;|
||any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts|
making it a pirate ship or aircraft;
||any act inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in sub-paragraph (a) or (b).”|
Initiatives to counter piracy and armed robbery at sea
IMO is implementing an anti-piracy project, a long-term project which began in 1998. Phase one consisted of a number of regional seminars and workshops attended by Government representatives from countries in piracy-infested areas of the world; while phase two consisted of a number of evaluation and assessment missions to different regions. IMO's aim has been to foster the development of regional agreements on implementation of counter piracy measures.
Regional cooperation among States has an important role to play in solving the problem of piracy and armed robbery against ships, as evidenced by the success of the regional anti-piracy operation in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia (RECAAP), which was concluded in November 2004 by 16 countries in Asia, and includes the RECAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) for facilitating the sharing of piracy-related information, is a good example of successful regional cooperation which IMO seeks to replicate elsewhere.
Today, the deteriorating security situation in the seas off war-torn Somalia and the Gulf of Aden (and in the increasingly volatile Gulf of Guinea) are at the heart of the problem.
In January 2009, an important regional agreement was adopted in Djibouti by States in the region, at a high-level meeting convened by IMO. The Djibouti Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden recognizes the extent of the problem of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the region and, in it, the signatories declare their intention to co operate to the fullest possible extent, and in a manner consistent with international law, in the repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships.
The signatories commit themselves towards sharing and reporting relevant information through a system of national focal points and information centres; interdicting ships suspected of engaging in acts of piracy or armed robbery against ships; ensuring that persons committing or attempting to commit acts of piracy or armed robbery against ships are apprehended and prosecuted; and facilitating proper care, treatment, and repatriation for seafarers, fishermen, other shipboard personnel and passengers subject to acts of piracy or armed robbery against ships, particularly those who have been subjected to violence.
To assist in anti-piracy measures, IMO issues reports on piracy and armed robbery against ships submitted by Member Governments and international organizations. The reports, which include names and descriptions of ships attacked, position and time of attack, consequences to the crew, ship or cargo and actions taken by the crew and coastal authorities, are now circulated monthly, with quarterly and annual summaries.
Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, 1988
Reports on Piracy and Armed Robbery