Ministerial meeting to review the Djibouti Code of Conduct

IMO Headquarters, London, 30 May 2014

Opening remarks by the Secretary-General

 Ministers, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Excellences and honourable representatives of the Djibouti Code of Conduct signatory and participating States, Distinguished representatives of donor countries to IMO Djibouti Code of Conduct Trust Fund, and Partner Organizations cooperating in IMO’s work on the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you here at IMO Headquarters to the Ministerial meeting to review the Code of Conduct for the repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Aden and the western Indian Ocean.
I particularly welcome those participants who are attending an IMO meeting for the first time.You will recall that the Djibouti Code of Conduct in its current form resulted from almost five years work by IMO to draw together a regional mechanism to enhance maritime security. By January 2009, piracy had moved to the top of the maritime security agenda and your States felt that a Code of Conduct was required solely to address this issue. Immediately after the adoption of the Code, I started consultations with potential donor governments to secure funds for the implementation. Then, IMO formed a Trust Fund to conduct the work within the Code of Conduct and, with the generosity of an initial donation of some 13 plus million dollars from Japan, followed by donations from Denmark, France, the Marshall Islands, the Netherlands, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, a private donation from the Bahrain Ship Owners, and very recently a donation from Malta, IMO has delivered a programme of implementation through the Project Implementation Unit, which has conducted the work set out in the four pillars of activity agreed within the Code of Conduct and which has done so much towards improving regional cooperation, information-sharing and training. We also have some continuity work to deliver maritime situational awareness programmes requested by donors and which are in the project definition process at present.
IMO was pivotal in drawing the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia to the attention of the United Nations Security Council; and, since then, the Organization has been in the vanguard of counter-piracy efforts, both on its own initiative and in collaboration with others.
IMO continues to be fully engaged at international, regional and national levels to repress piracy and the time is now ripe to renew our collective focus and increase efforts to help create the conditions in which the people of Somalia will be able to live their lives under proper governance and the protection of an effective rule of law.
Work conducted at the technical level under the Kampala Process, a mechanism requested by the Government of Somalia to allow full Somali participation, has outlined a very useful resource based maritime strategy for Somalia, and IMO has undertaken to play a key role in the development of a maritime authority in Somalia within a legal and accountable mechanism of government as outlined in the strategy.
To today’s business: at the meetings of the participating States to the Djibouti Code of Conduct at Director General level, held in Mombasa at the end of last year, and in Djibouti and Abu Dhabi this year, IMO was given a very clear sense of satisfaction at the progress that has been made in implementing the Code of Conduct, with the assistance of IMO’s Project Implementation Unit and the generous donations made to the IMO Trust Fund. There continues to be a strong feeling that the Djibouti Code of Conduct remains a viable document although there seemed to be an increasingly stronger case amongst participating States to widen its purpose, although there was no consensus on this.
I was recently able to address the Contact Group for Piracy off the coast of Somalia by means of a video message. I now understand that the Contact Group is looking to adapt its method of work to reflect what has been achieved, and what remains to be done, and to take a more strategic role with regional mechanisms being proposed to do the work of coordination and cooperation.
The Code of Conduct has a real role to play in this and the time is right for the region to not only review the relevance of the Code against today’s threats, but also to take greater responsibility for the coordination of its own efforts. This is why, building on the discussions from our meeting two years ago, I have asked the Project Implementation Unit to develop a plan for them to hand over their functions to a mechanism established by signatory States to the Code. With this in mind I intend to close down the Project Implementation Unit in its current form, with some mechanisms to handle the transitional work under the current Trust Fund. Resolving this matter has been the main focus of the subregional meetings held over the last six months and I am pleased with the work that has been done to develop a mechanism for the region to run its own counter-piracy agenda. I hope that you will be able to endorse this today so that the work can commence of setting up the support mechanisms and handing over responsibilities.
It has been two years since the last successful attack by Somali pirates, and this is mainly due to greater adherence by shipping to the Best Management Practices, the widespread deployment of Privately Contracted Security Companies, more robust actions by the international naval forces and the impact of the region’s work to counter-piracy. But in that timescale there has also been a number of attempted piracy attacks showing that the problem whilst contained is far from resolved. The region’s need to develop its own capacity to deal with piracy is stronger now than ever as the navies might inevitably look to reassess their forces as the attacks diminish and pressures on naval resources are focused elsewhere. The work you have done already means that the region is better placed now than when we started along this road five years ago, but the need to develop capacity and address some of the articles of the Code of Conduct that have not been addressed thus far remains.
As I have mentioned earlier, IMO along with other international partners, will be increasingly engaging in the development of sustainable alternative livelihoods for the stabilization of Somalia, and in particular the development of Somalia’s maritime affairs throughout 2014 and beyond. This work has already been started by the Project Implementation Unit under the Djibouti Code of Conduct, as it directly impacts on piracy; the growth of Somalia’s maritime industry to provide economic development as an alternative to piracy, and the creation of the associated governance and legal bodies will be work for the future which will be conducted under the Organization’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme.
All that remains for me now is to wish you well in your deliberations today, and hope that you will see my words as being my personal encouragement for you to use the Djibouti Code of Conduct to do as much as you can to repress the piracy and armed robbery against ships that continues to have an impact upon your region, and in particular establish your own mechanisms to do this.
Thank you.