Security Council Urges Action Over Piracy off the Coast of Somalia

Friday, March 17, 2006
The United Nations Security Council has urged Member States to use naval vessels and military aircraft in the fight against piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia. In a wide ranging Presidential statement on the situation in Somalia, issued on March 15, the Council "encourages Member States whose naval vessels and military aircraft operate in international waters and airspace adjacent to the coast of Somalia to be vigilant to any incident of piracy therein and to take appropriate action to protect merchant shipping, in particular the transportation of humanitarian aid, against any such act, in line with relevant international law."

The attention of the Security Council was first drawn to the growing problem of piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coast of Somalia by a resolution adopted by the 24th session of IMO's Assembly in November 2005. In resolution A.979(24), the IMO Assembly has condemned and deplored all acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships and has appealed to all parties, which may be able to assist, to take action, within the provisions of international law, to ensure that all acts or attempted acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships are terminated forthwith; that plans for committing such acts are abandoned; and any hijacked ships are immediately and unconditionally released and that no harm is caused to seafarers serving in them. Soon after the resolution was adopted by the IMO Assembly, Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos submitted it to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan for consideration and any further action he might deem appropriate, including bringing the matter to the attention of the Security Council. Mitropoulos expressed his satisfaction at this latest development, adding that he hoped the action requested by the security council of all UN Member States would help to bring about a significant reduction in attacks on innocent merchant shipping in the area and lead eventually to the eradication of the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia. Background The Presidential statement was made at the 5387th meeting of the Security Council held on 15 March 2006, in connection with the Council's consideration of the item entitled "The situation in Somalia". The full text of the paragraph concerning piracy and armed robbery is as follows: "The Security Council takes note of Resolution A.979 (24) adopted on 23 November 2005 at the twenty-fourth session of the International Maritime Organization biennial Assembly, concerning the increasing incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in waters off the coast of Somalia. The Council encourages Member States whose naval vessels and military aircraft operate in international waters and airspace adjacent to the coast of Somalia to be vigilant to any incident of piracy therein and to take appropriate action to protect merchant shipping, in particular the transportation of humanitarian aid, against any such act., in line with relevant international law. In this regard, the Council welcomes the communiqué of the IGAD Council of Ministers' meeting in Jawhar on 29 November 2005, which decided to coordinate its strategies and action plans to face this common challenge in close collaboration with the international community. The Council further urges cooperation among all States, particularly regional states, and active prosecution of piracy offenses."

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