IMO leads new anti-piracy initiative
visit southeast Asia to promote regional co-operation
team of senior IMO officials is undertaking a high-level mission to southeast
Asia this week to initiate the second phase of the Organizations latest
the first phase of the anti-piracy project, a series of regional seminars and
workshops held in Singapore and Mumbai during 1999/2000 identified a range of
measures that could be undertaken to alleviate the problem of piracy and armed
robbery against ships. The principal purpose of the second phase will be to
evaluate and assess the steps taken by Governments in the region as a result.
of piracy and armed robbery against ships have been rising steadily in recent
years, both in number and in severity. Armed gangs board ships both underway
and at anchor, often injuring and occasionally murdering innocent crew members.
The thieves objectives range from petty cash to stealing the entire ship
and its cargo, often with dire consequences for the crew, who are either abandoned
in lifeboats or, in the most extreme cases, killed and thrown overboard.
Singapore meeting will bring together representatives from Asia and Pacific
countries which either experience extensive piracy or armed robbery activities
in waters off their coasts or can play a substantial role in addressing the
problem due to their strategic location in relation to the most affected areas,
which stretch from the South China Sea, through the Malacca Strait to the Eastern
Indian Ocean. It will also include representatives of other countries which
have a genuine interest in seeing the problem effectively addressed either because
of the large number of ships under their national flag using the waters concerned
or because of the strategic importance of the area as a trade route.
the key elements identified in the 1999/2000 meetings was the importance of
regional co-operation and co-ordination in the fight against piracy and armed
robbery. It was suggested at the 1999 Singapore meeting that authorizing local
commanders to respond in concert with other agencies and regional security forces
without the need to gain prior approval, together with regular joint patrols
and surveillance activities, could help prevent attacks. Co-ordination could
be achieved, it was agreed, through a raft of practical measures such as the
exchange of officers, the sharing of common radio frequencies, and agreeing
in advance to follow common practices and pre-arranged operational procedures.
March 2000 meeting in Mumbai, recommended improving the exchange of information
within the region and recognised that issues of bureaucracy needed to be addressed.
conferences held in Tokyo at the initiative of the Japanese Government adopted
a Model Action Plan covering a range of anti-piracy measures, including self-protection
measures that can be taken aboard ships, reporting to authorities, co-operation
among different authorities within the same country, the establishment of a
national network for the exchange of information and the subsequent analysis
this latest initiative, IMO will be concentrating on evaluating the actions
taken by Governments to implement the anti-piracy measures recommended by the
Organization within the areas under their jurisdiction, identifying where such
measures have not been successful and what has impeded their implementation,
examining the reasons behind any total or partial inability to implement the
measures and finding ways in which IMO could assist in overcoming any difficulties
the participating countries have encountered in the process.
will also be looking for information on any ideas or proposals the participating
Governments may themselves have with respect to regional co-operation for combating
piracy and armed robbery, such as joint exercises, patrolling of certain particularly
vulnerable sea areas, and exchanging intelligence on the movements of suspects.
The sensitive issue of the deployment of law-enforcement resources in international
or foreign national waters may also be addressed.
Singapore meeting will be preceded by an expert evaluation, assessment and advisory
mission to Jakarta for talks with Indonesian Government officials and representatives
from the countrys law enforcement agencies and shipping industry.
has long been campaigning and working to raise the profile of the problem of
piracy among the Governments of the countries most concerned and, in particular,
to provide authorities and ship operators with practical guidelines about how
to avoid such attacks and how to minimize the effects of any incidents that
do occur. As long ago as 1983, the IMO Assembly passed a resolution calling
on governments to take urgent measures to prevent and suppress acts of piracy
in or adjacent to their waters. IMO also called on its members, and non-governmental
organisations in consultative status, such as the International Maritime Bureau
of the ICC, BIMCO and ICS, to submit details of all attacks of which they become
aware, so that accurate and up-to-date statistics on the nature and extent of
the problem can be produced. From these reports, IMO produces monthly, quarterly
and annual summaries highlighting the high-risk areas, which are published on
the Organizations public web site (Reports
on Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships).
1999, the Organization revised and re-issued its recommendations to Governments,
shipowners and operators, masters and crew on suppressing acts of piracy and
armed robbery against ships (MSC Circulars 622/rev1 and 623/rev1). The IMO Maritime
Safety Committee has approved a draft code of practice for Governments on the
investigation and prosecution of acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships.
The code is scheduled to be adopted as a resolution by the 22nd IMO
Assembly in November this year.
current mission to southeast Asia will be followed later this year by similar
exercises in the Latin America/Caribbean and West African regions, which have
also been identified as piracy hot-spots. The Governments of Greece, Japan,
the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom, as well as the International
Transport Workers Federation (ITF) have supported the initiative with
funding and the IMO has encouraged other potential donors to do the same.