Combatting Piracy off the coast of Somalia: International Community Support Needed

AliyaBy Aliya Yagudina, Intern in SNDatUN Office

On 10 November 2015, H.E. Matthew Rycroft (UK) announced the provisional agenda for the 7554th meeting of the Security Council – “the Situation in Somalia”. At the morning session of the meeting, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2446 (2015) concerning the renewal of anti-piracy measures in Somalia for a period of one year. As he started, H. E. Rycroft drew attention of the Council members to the document S/2015/776 – the Report of the Secretary-General on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, which provided a basis for a draft resolution. The text of a draft resolution was submitted by France, Lithuania, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland and the United States.

Somali piracyAs reported by the Secretary-General earlier this month, international efforts in combating piracy have shown some improvements, and the total number of illegal activities caused by Somali pirates continued to decline. In fact, the last incident when a commercial vessel was hijacked and held for ransom took place two years ago. However, the Council emphasized that piracy contributed greatly to the instability in Somalia, particularly, owing to the circulation of illicit cash that had exacerbated crime and corruption in the country. Therefore, it is necessary for the international community to take a comprehensive action in investigating and prosecuting those who participate, organize, support, finance, and profit from pirate attacks. The Council encouraged States to adopt legislation to facilitate the prosecution of suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia. It is noteworthy that in a collaboration effort between the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the Trust Fund on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, the new Supreme Court for piracy and maritime crimes has been established in Seychelles.

Additionally, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) has shown progress in combating the threat of piracy through the development of legal framework. In October, the authorities of Somalia submitted a draft coastguard law to the Parliament, which was supported by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) Operation Atalanta. Furthermore, the Council stated that Somalia should also ensure the application of a proper legal framework for the distribution of fishing licenses “in a responsible manner”.

Finally, the Council renewed the partial lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia, which did not apply to “military equipment or the provision of assistance destined for the sole use of Member States, international, regional and sub-regional organizations in the fight against piracy”.

As the Secretary-General pointed out, the country’s fragile economy, weak governance, high youth unemployment and the lack of alternative livelihoods are among the major factors that provide the favorable environment for piracy to develop and expand. As a matter of fact, prevailing corruption in Somalia represents a direct obstacle to the state-building process, and consequently a freeway to illegal piracy activities, which are often involved in human trafficking, drug trade, and terrorism (Al-Shabab). Hence, the support and assistance of the international community in tackling the major threats of piracy off the coast of Somalia is necessary and urgent. The international community should increase its support in the areas of governance, rule of law and economic development to address the root causes of piracy, support in its efforts to persecute and punish the suspects of piracy according to the international law, and to cooperate with maritime organizations, such as IMO, UNODC, NATO Operation Ocean Shield, EUNAVFOR, to conjointly combat maritime crime and piracy, and to ensure stability, compliance with international human rights standards, and international peace and security in the region.

Report of the Secretary-General on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia S/2015/776:


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