ReCAAP ISC Piracy and Sea Robbery Conference 2022

ReCAAP ISC Piracy and Sea Robbery Conference 2022

 5 April 2022

Keynote address by Kitack Lim, Secretary-General,

International Maritime Organization

Chair, Conference delegates, Distinguished guests,

It is an honour to deliver the keynote address for this conference.

I, firstly, like to thank ReCAAP for the opportunity to address you all today, and for the valued support to maintaining safety and security of shipping in the region.

We are witnessing significant turmoil in the world today, and global shipping has not escaped its impacts. As the maritime industry continues to recover from the effects of the pandemic, we are now faced with the challenges caused by the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine and Black Sea region.

The IMO is working tirelessly with all stakeholders to address the safety and security issues for seafarers and for shipping.

But while the current focus is understandably on the ongoing turmoil, it is important we do not lose sight of the very serious challenges of piracy and armed robbery.

In this regard there have been some positive developments. There has been a 25% fall in the number of global incidents of attempted piracy and armed robbery in 2021, with 172 incidents reported in 2020 compared to 229 in 2020.

There has also been a significant reduction in incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea, and no successful hijackings off the coast of Somalia for over 5 years.

While this is good news, we cannot, and must not, become complacent. As this audience is no doubt aware many factors affect the number of incidents. We must carefully monitor the situation and continue to maintain the necessary actions to ensure the number of incidents continue to remain suppressed.

I call upon all stakeholders to continue to vigorously implement initiatives to tackle this ongoing problem.

For our part I assure you that IMO is more active than ever and continues to provide secretariat support to the 20 member states of the key regional forum in Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean, the Djibouti Code of Conduct.

We are also a key implementing partner in two major EU funded projects which aim to deliver permanent and long-lasting maritime security and safety of navigation improvements across Eastern and Southern Africa and the Red Sea regions.

And in West Africa, IMO, we are supporting the work to ensure the sustainability of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and it is communications architecture. This includes the ongoing provision and installation of HF radio sets to national Maritime Operational Centres.

However, it is important to recognise that the global fall in the number of piracy and armed robbery incidents is not reflected in all regions. The number of incidents in Central and South America has risen slightly, and against ships in Asia, particularly in the Straits of Malacca, the number of incidents has increased to 69 in 2021, compared to 48 incidents in 2020. This represents a significant increase of 43%.

I draw attention, in particular, to the importance of broader regional membership and cooperation in RECAAP.  to tackle this growing regional challenge, and to build further on existing measures to help drive down the number of incidents.  

One key initiative for ReCAAP, as a critical information hub within the region, is to enhance maritime domain awareness further to aid the detection, deterrence and disruption of illegal activities at sea.

Enhancing regional and indeed global maritime domain awareness is a critical part of the long-term solution to countering piracy and armed robbery. Developing this capability also addresses a broad array of risks faced coastal states and by the maritime industry including IUU fishing, and other forms of criminality.

Given its multitude of benefits, IMO is enhancing capability in maritime domain awareness and will be offering an enhanced capacity development programme in this area, delivered by world leading experts, to Member States.

IMO is also working increasingly closely with the region and will be hosting an ASEAN Regional Forum on ISPS security in September this year, as well as looking to engage the relevant Member States in the IMO model on the Whole of Government Approach to Maritime Security.

This key initiative, aims to strengthen national maritime security decision making processes, offers significant benefits and can assist with the national coordination of all government and industry initiatives to combat the threat of piracy and armed robbery.

I hope my remarks concerning the current piracy and armed robbery challenges in Asia and beyond have provided food for thought for your discussions, and I wish you every success in your deliberations during this conference.

Thank you.