Renewed calls for action to prevent and suppress acts of piracy and armed
robbery against ships, in particular off the coast of Somalia, were made by
the 25th session of the Assembly of the International Maritime Organization
(IMO), when it adopted a new resolution on Piracy and armed robbery against
ships in waters off the coast of Somalia.
The resolution was submitted to the Assembly at the recommendation of IMO
Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, following its approval at the meeting of the IMO Council which preceded the Assembly, and revokes an
earlier resolution (A.979(24)) adopted in 2005 at the 24th IMO Assembly.
The wide-ranging new resolution appeals directly to the Transitional Federal
Government (TFG) of Somalia. Among other things, it requests the TFG to take
any action it deems necessary to prevent and suppress acts of piracy and
armed robbery against ships originating from within Somalia and to ensure
that its coastline cannot be used as a safe haven from which attacks can be
launched. It goes on to ask the TFG to take action to ensure that all ships
seized by pirates and armed robbers and brought into waters within its
territory are released promptly and that ships sailing off the coast of
Somalia do not become victims of acts of piracy or armed robbery.
The resolution asks the TFG to advise the UN Security Council that, in response to a previous request from the IMO Council, it consents to warships or military aircraft entering its territorial sea, when engaging in operations against pirates or suspected
pirates and armed robbers. In addition, in view of the worsening
humanitarian situation in Somalia, it also asks the TFG to advise the
Security Council of its readiness to conclude any necessary agreements so as
to enable warships or military aircraft to escort ships employed by the
World Food Programme (WFP) for the delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia
or leaving Somali ports after having discharged their cargo.
Through the new resolution, the IMO Assembly, which is the governing body of
the Organization and comprises all 167 Member States, has reiterated its
condemnation of all acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships,
irrespective of where they have occurred or may occur and, in particular,
has appealed to all parties able to assist to take action, within the
provisions of international law, to ensure that seafarers serving on any
hijacked ships, and any other persons on board, are immediately and
unconditionally released and that no harm is caused to them.
The resolution also places considerable emphasis on the need for
co-operation, communication and the sharing of information, as key elements
in tackling the problem.
The resolution specifically calls on Governments in the region, in
co-operation with IMO, to conclude a regional agreement to prevent, deter
and suppress piracy and armed robbery against ships. Other Governments are
called upon to assist these efforts.
It also urges Governments to issue, to ships entitled to fly their flag,
specific advice and guidance on any appropriate additional precautionary
measures necessary to protect themselves from attack, when sailing off the
coast of Somalia, and on any measures or actions they may need to take when
they are under attack, or threat of attack.
Ships are encouraged to ensure that information on attempted attacks is
promptly conveyed to the nearby coastal States and to the nearest, most
appropriate Rescue Coordination Centre and Governments are asked to bring
such information to the attention of IMO. Governments are further requested
to instruct national Rescue Coordination Centres, or other agencies
involved, to transmit relevant advice and warnings on reported attacks
through the World-Wide Navigation Warning Service, the International
SafetyNet Service or other means, so as to warn shipping in the immediate
area. They are also asked to provide a point of contact through which ships
may request advice or assistance and to which such ships can report any
security concerns about other ships, movements or communications in the
The investigation of all acts or attempted acts of piracy and armed robbery
is actively encouraged by the resolution and Governments are requested to
report any pertinent information to IMO. It also urges them to take all
necessary legislative, judicial and law enforcement action to ensure they
are able to receive and prosecute or extradite suspected pirates and armed
The IMO Secretary-General is requested to transmit a copy of the resolution
to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for consideration and any
further action he may deem appropriate, and to continue monitoring the
situation in relation to threats to ships sailing in waters off the coast of
Somalia. He is also requested to consult with Governments and organizations
with a view to providing technical assistance to Somalia and nearby coastal
States to enhance their capacity to give effect to the new IMO resolution.