Anti-Piracy Efforts Must Address Root Causes

Monday, November 23, 2009

Piracy off Somalia’s coast is a symptom of wider problems ashore, and any strategy to tackle it must also deal with its root causes and strengthen regional capacity, the United Nations envoy to the country warned on Nov. 18.

Briefing the Security Council, Special Representative Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said piracy is “a highly profitable business – we therefore have to address it as a criminal activity with many tentacles in the region and around the world.”

He noted that an increased maritime presence is helping to stabilize the situation on the sea but that the number of pirate attacks has not diminished.

Between January and September, some 160 piracy incidents were reported in the East African area, with 34 ships being hijacked and more than 450 people taken hostage off the coast of Somalia, according to the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The IMO is steering the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct, which aims to establish a cooperation framework that would include information-sharing between regional States and prosecution of suspected pirates.

Ould-Abdallah introduced the latest report of the Secretary-General on the issue, in which Ban Ki-moon wrote that one of the ways to ensure the long-term security of international navigation off the coast of Somalia is by stabilizing the situation ashore, as pirates have become more sophisticated in their methods and techniques of attacking.

“Piracy is a symptom of wider problems ashore in Somalia,” echoed the Special Representative. “The only sustainable solution will be effective governance, the establishment of the rule of law and security institutions and the creation of alternative livelihoods in Somalia for stable and inclusive economic growth,” he said, adding that the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) and the UN Country Team are working together on these issues.

“Any long-term effort to address piracy must be complementary to the current political, security, recovery and development efforts now undertaken by the United Nations and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM),” he told the Council, which also heard from over 20 countries on the subject.

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