Year-to-date, Somalia-based pirates have attacked more than 90 ships, seized more than 35, and currently hold 17. Some 280 crew members are being held hostage, and two have been killed. Billions of dollars worth of cargo have been seized; millions have been paid in ransom. A multinational naval force has attempted to secure a corridor in the Gulf of Aden, through which 12% of the total volume of seaborne oil passes, and U.S., British and Indian naval ships have engaged the pirates by force. Yet the number of attacks keeps rising.
Why? The view of senior U.S. military officials seems to be, in effect, that there is no controlling legal authority. Title 18, Chapter 81 of the United States Code establishes a sentence of life in prison for foreigners captured in the act of piracy. But, crucially, the law is only enforceable against pirates who attack U.S.-flagged vessels, of which today there are few.
What about international law? Article 110 of the U.N.'s Law of the Sea Convention -- ratified by most nations, but not by the U.S. -- enjoins naval ships from simply firing on suspected pirates. Instead, they are required first to send over a boarding party to inquire of the pirates whether they are, in fact, pirates. A recent U.N. Security Council resolution allows foreign navies to pursue pirates into Somali waters -- provided Somalia's tottering government agrees -- but the resolution expires next week. As for the idea of laying waste, Stephen Decatur-like, to the pirate's prospering capital port city of Eyl, this too would require U.N. authorization. Yesterday, a shippers' organization asked NATO to blockade the Somali coast. NATO promptly declined.
Then there is the problem of what to do with captured pirates. No international body similar to the old Admiralty Courts is currently empowered to try pirates and imprison them. The British foreign office recently produced a legal opinion warning Royal Navy ships not to take pirates captive, lest they seek asylum in the U.K. or otherwise face repatriation in jurisdictions where they might be dealt with harshly, in violation of the British Human Rights Act.
In March 2006, the U.S. Navy took 11 pirates prisoner, six of whom were injured. Not wanting to set a precedent for trying pirates in U.S. courts, the State Department turned to Kenya to do the job. The injured spent weeks aboard the USS Nassau, enjoying First World medical care.
All this legal exquisiteness stands in contrast to what was once a more robust attitude. Pirates, said Cicero, were hostis humani generis -- enemies of the human race -- to be dealt with accordingly by their captors. Tellingly, Cicero's notion of piracy vanished in the Middle Ages; its recovery traces the recovery of the West itself.
By the 18th century, pirates knew exactly where they stood in relation to the law. A legal dictionary of the day spelled it out: "A piracy attempted on the Ocean, if the Pirates are overcome, the Takers may immediately inflict a Punishment by hanging them up at the Main-yard End; though this is understood where no legal judgment may be obtained."
Severe as the penalty may now seem (albeit necessary, since captured pirates were too dangerous to keep aboard on lengthy sea voyages), it succeeded in mostly eliminating piracy by the late 19th century -- a civilizational achievement no less great than the elimination of smallpox a century later.
Today, by contrast, a Navy captain who takes captured pirates aboard his state-of-the-art warship will have a brig in which to keep them securely detained, and instantaneous communications through which he can obtain higher guidance and observe the rule of law.
Yet what ought to be a triumph for both justice and security has turned out closer to the opposite. Instead of greater security, we get the deteriorating situation described above. And in pursuit of a better form of justice -- chiefly defined nowadays as keeping a clear conscience -- we get (at best) a Kenyan jail. "We're humane warriors," says one U.S. Navy officer. "When the pirates put down their RPGs and raise their hands, we take them alive. And that's a lot tougher than taking bodies."
Piracy, of course, is hardly the only form of barbarism at work today: There are the suicide bombers on Israeli buses, the stonings of Iranian women, and so on. But piracy is certainly the most primordial of them, and our collective inability to deal with it says much about how far we've regressed in the pursuit of what is mistakenly thought of as a more humane policy. A society that erases the memory of how it overcame barbarism in the past inevitably loses sight of the meaning of civilization, and the means of sustaining it.
NATO rejects call for blockade along Somali coast
By EILEEN NG
Nov. 24, 2008
Peter Swift, managing director of the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, said stronger naval action — including aerial and aviation support — is necessary to battle rampant piracy in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia.
Some 20 tankers sail through the sea lane daily. But many tanker owners are considering a massive detour around southern Africa to avoid pirates, which will delay delivery and push costs up by 30 percent, Swift said.
The association, whose members own 2,900 tankers or 75 percent of the world's fleet, opposes attempts to arm merchant ships because it could escalate the violence and put crew members at even greater risk, he said.
"The other option is perhaps putting a blockade around Somalia and introducing the idea of intercepting vessels leaving Somalia rather than to try to protect the whole of the Gulf of Aden," Swift said.
Somali pirates have become increasingly brazen, seizing eight vessels in the past two weeks, including a huge Saudi supertanker loaded with $100 million worth of crude oil.
A blockade along Somalia's 2,400 mile coastline would not be easy.
"But some intervention there may be effective," Swift told reporters on the sidelines of a shipping conference in Malaysia.
U.S. Gen. John Craddock, NATO's supreme allied commander, said today the alliance's mandate is solely to escort World Food Program ships to Somalia and to conduct anti-piracy patrols.
Asked what he thought of a Russian proposal to jointly attack the pirate strongholds, Craddock answered: "That's far beyond what I've been tasked to do."
According to Lt. Nathan Christensen, spokesman of the U.S. 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, more than 14 warships from Denmark, France, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, the U.S. and NATO are currently patrolling a vast international maritime corridor. They escort some merchant ships and respond to distress calls in the area.
Christensen declined to comment on the idea of a blockade.
But the navies say it is virtually impossible to patrol the vast sea around the gulf.
NATO has ruled out a blockade.
"Blocking ports is not contemplated by NATO," said NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Brussels. U.N. Security Council resolutions "do not include these kind of actions and as far as NATO is concerned, this is at the moment not on the cards," he said.
Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa said today Arabs should deploy their own naval forces to fight piracy in the Horn of Africa and also cooperate with foreign fleets in the area.
Diplomats of the Arab countries on the Red Sea met in Cairo last week to coordinate efforts to combat piracy, but some of these nations have been reluctant to get involved.
Somalia, an impoverished nation caught up in an Islamic insurgency, has had no functioning government since 1991. There have been 95 pirate attacks so far this year in Somali waters, with 39 ships hijacked.
Fifteen ships with nearly 300 crew are still in the hands of Somali pirates, who dock the hijacked vessels near the eastern and southern coast as they negotiate for ransom.
"Any action to prevent the pirates from heading out to sea is welcome," said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur. He said it was up to the international community to decide how they can deploy their forces for the blockade.
The Baltic and International Maritime Council, the world's largest private shipping organization, echoed calls for greater military action.
"Despite increased patrols by coalition forces, piracy attacks continue. We hope a system ... will be put in place to coordinate the coalition forces," said Thomas Timlen, its Asian liaison officer. "It's clear from recent events ... that more needs to be done."
Both Swift and Timlen said a blockade is possible if the multi-coalition naval force coordinate their actions and more warships are sent to the area with a stronger mandate.
U.N. resolutions now allow pursuit of pirate ships but various countries interpret the law differently, Swift said.
He called for a clear mandate from the United Nations to allow warships to intercept pirate ships and arrest the sea bandits.
The demand came as Egypt hosted an emergency meeting on piracy attended by representatives from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Jordan and Somalia.
The 330-metre oil tanker, the largest ship ever captured at sea, is reported to be anchored near the town of Harardheere on Somalia's eastern coast.
"Russia will be sending warships from other fleets to this region," said Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, Russia's navy commander, attributing the decision to "the current developments off the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden, where Somali pirates have intensified their activity".
"The INS Tabar closed in on the mother vessel and asked her to stop for investigation," an Indian navy spokesman said. "But on repeated calls, the vessel's threatening response was that she would blow up the naval warship if it approached."
On the same day, pirates seized three other ships: a Greek bulk carrier, a Thai fishing boat and an Iranian-chartered cargo ship carrying 36,000 tonnes of wheat from Germany.
OIL TANKER FIRM: Military 'only solution' to piracy
"I think that's the only solution," Martin Jensen, acting chief executive officer of Oslo-based Frontline Ltd, told Agence France-Presse in an interview.
He said Frontline, which has 80 tankers, is considering whether to divert its ships from Somalia and the treacherous Gulf of Aden, "if there's no quick international force or situation being applied."
Jensen, whose company has an office in Singapore, said Frontline is holding serious internal talks about whether to avoid the Gulf of Aden but the matter would have to be discussed with owners of the cargo.
"The main consideration, that's the safety of the crew and the ship," he said.
But Jensen added that piracy was not a problem that one company can solve, and his preference was for a military approach.
"It doesn't solve anything by diverting," he said.
Over the weekend pirates seized their biggest prize so far, the Saudi Arabian oil tanker Sirius Star. It was loaded with two million barrels of oil when they seized it hundreds of miles off the coast of Kenya.
The pirates have demanded a ransom of $25 million, while more than a dozen other vessels are being held in Somali waters by pirates.
In the face of their audacity, Russia's NATO envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, called for a land military force to confront the pirates on their home turf.
NATO sent four warships into the Gulf of Aden last month on anti-piracy duties and to escort aid vessels, while a European Union anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia is to begin on December 8.
But the world's navies are struggling to find the right deterrent and any use of force might have little effect, experts say.
Jensen said his ships traveled near pirate-infested Somalia every week and one of them, the Front Voyager, recently had a narrow escape.
"A pirate boat approached but before they got too close the ship was able to get naval assistance," he said, adding that the problem was escalating.
One of the world's biggest shipping lines, Denmark's A.P. Moeller-Maersk, said Thursday it would divert some of its vessels around the tip of South Africa to avoid pirates in the Gulf of Aden.
In a statement, it said ships that are too slow -- or with decks low enough for pirates to scramble aboard -- would "seek alternative routing" around the Cape of Good Hope and Madagascar.
Alternatively, they could join a naval convoy through the Gulf of Aden, if one were available.
Norwegian shipping company Odfjell said on Monday it, too, would choose the longer, more expensive but also safer route around the Cape of Good Hope.
Jensen said the southern route was about 40 percent longer, "so of course that would be quite a cost".
One of the world's largest container shipping firms, Neptune Orient Lines, said it was "closely monitoring events" in the Gulf of Aden but was not planning to reroute ships.
"The relative risk of attack is lower for fast high-decked container ships than it is for slower low-decked vessels such as bulk carriers or tankers," said NOL spokesman Paul Barrett.
He said Singapore-based NOL has comprehensive -- but confidential -- measures in place to protect its crews.
"Their families will be going through a wrenching hell of waiting. It is important we assure them we are fully engaged with all of our partners on this issue.''
Since then, a breakaway Islamist group known as al-Shabab has gained control of much of the south and centre of the country. An African Union peacekeeping force has been ineffective.
The pirates, however, are based further north, in Puntland, a semi-autonomous region, where the port of Eyl is the main pirate base.
There is a president but he has either no power or no interest in stopping a lucrative form of income.
Further round the coast again is Somaliland, which would like international recognition of its independence. The chances of there being a united, peaceful Somalia in the foreseeable future are close to nil.
Fourteen piracy attempts off Somalia in 10 days
Nov 15: Armed pirates attacked and hijacked a chemical tanker in the Gulf of Aden.
The seizure of an Aramco oil tanker, the Sirius Star, brings home to many people the extent of both the scourge and the dangers it poses for the Kingdom’s well-being if not confronted. This part of the world has always lived on trade, maritime trade in particular. Oil has not changed that. It has magnified it. These pirates, unless stopped, will continue their murderous, pillaging ways. This will not be the only tanker seized. There will be others. With cargoes around two million barrels, the pickings are just too tempting.
Some years ago, piracy on the high seas was only ended when the major maritime powers decided no longer to license pirates as freelance buccaneers against each other but rather to pursue them and destroy them in their lairs. The policy worked and it seems to be what is needed today.
Buccaneers In Somali Waters - But They're Not Somalis
Webster's Dictionary defines piracy as "robbery on the high seas." By that definition, Somalia is the victim of pirates from all over the world.
Before Somalia descended into chaos, 30,000 fishermen made their livings from the sea. But they can't compete with the modern, foreign vessels, and there is no one to keep the commercial fish pirates out.
Some foreign fishing interests make their own deals, purchasing fishing "licenses" from warlords purporting to represent authority on behalf of Somalia. That's very much like the "diplomacy" practiced by white settlers in the colonial and early United States, when they made "treaties" with bogus Indian "chiefs" who signed away Native American land for trinkets and liquor.
"The term 'piracy' was defined by the Geneva Convention on the High Seas in 1958. This definition was adopted by the 1982 [UN] Convention [on the Law of the Sea UNCLOS].
The act of violence must be:
Article 110 of the 1982 Convention...grants warships the right to stop other vessels for the purpose of verifying their right to fly a flag. However, this is not a general right. It must be based on certain reasons, such as the suspicion of piracy, slave trading, or statelessness. The warship may send a socalled boarding team on board the stopped vessel in order to verify its right to fly the flag. The vessel may be searched if the suspicion is confirmed after inspecting the ship’s papers (Article 110, paragraph 2, 1982 Convention). When exercising this right, however, the commanding officers must remember that, if the suspicion proves to be unfounded, Article 110, paragraph 3 of the 1982 Convention stipulates that the shipping company be reimbursed for all losses incurred.
Article 107 of the 1982 Convention, however, restricts the right of such intervention in international waters to warships or 'other ships which are clearly marked and identifiable as being on government service and are authorized to that effect'.
Important coastal states, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Somalia are still missing, however.
Right of intervention permitted by the SUA Convention
Unlike the 1982 Convention, the SUA Convention does not grant any powers to take action against pirates and avert pirate attacks. Only the flag state (under the so-called flag state principle) and the state whose coastal waters are being transited by foreign vessels (territoriality principle) or whose citizens commit the offence (personality principle) have the right to take such action...This means that the SUA Convention, like the 1982 Convention, does not provide states with any right to pursue offenders in the territorial waters of other states...
Unlike the 1982 Convention, however, the SUA Convention does provide a legal foundation for the prosecution of pirates. Article 7, paragraph 1, SUA Convention obliges the treaty states to detain suspected persons in their territory or to take other measures to prevent their escape. This applies until criminal proceedings or extradition proceedings are instituted...
'Toxic waste' behind Somali piracy
But he did say the practice helps fuel the 18-year-old civil war in Somalia as companies are paying Somali government ministers to dump their waste, or to secure licences and contracts.
"How can you negotiate these dealings with a country at war and with a government struggling to remain relevant?"
At the request of the Swiss and Italian governments, UNEP investigated the matter.
Unfortunately the war has not allowed environmental groups to investigate this fully."
The Italian mafia controls an estimated 30 per cent of Italy's waste disposal companies, including those that deal with toxic waste.
Beyond the ethical question of trying to secure a hazardous waste agreement in an unstable country like Somalia, the alleged attempt by Swiss and Italian firms to dump waste in Somalia would violate international treaties to which both countries are signatories.
[ARE THESE PEOPLE CLAIMING THAT THEY ARE 'ENVIROMENTAL FREEDOM FIGHTERS'??]
Whether or not the raids off Somalia are part of a buccaneering fight to help save the planet — which doesn’t sound like a bad sequel to “VeggieTales: The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” — a resolution to this particular hijacking seemed to be in the offing.
IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos wrote to Mr Ban in September proposing that the mandate be extended. Mr Ban has now confirmed that he supports the proposal and will be conveying the same to the Security Council, together with the concerns expressed by IMO and international shipping and seafaring organizations.
In a letter to Mr Mitropoulos, Mr Ban said he remains "seriously concerned" about the dangers posed by piracy in the Gulf of Aden and was "acutely aware" of its impact on the ability of the United Nations to deliver humanitarian assistance to Somalia. He also said he was encouraged by the Security Council's adoption, on 7 October 2008, of resolution 1838 (2008) on this issue. Mr Ban added, "We must do more and act quickly to fight this terrible scourge.
Mr Ban's letter came just days after a meeting at IMO, held at the invitation of Mr Mitropoulos, and involving the heads of the four shipping industry bodies known collectively as the Round Table (BIMCO, ICS/ISF, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO), and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) expressed its own support for an extension of the mandate (see IMO briefing 45/2008).
In the face of the recent alarming deterioration of the situation - both in the number of attacks, hijackings and hostage takings off Somalia, and the ferocity with which they are carried out - and in the light of some 13 vessels and over 200 seafarers reportedly now in the hands of pirates, the meeting, which took place at IMO Headquarters, identified a number of key issues that it felt needed to be addressed in order to alleviate the situation and strengthen further the safeguarding of shipping, including fishing vessels and pleasure craft, in the region.
The meeting called for sustained coordination between all naval forces operating in the area currently and in the future; for clear rules of engagement that would enable military assets to intervene effectively to protect shipping; and for an extension, for an adequate duration, of the mandate given in United Nations Security Council resolution 1816 (2008) enabling States co operating with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to enter the country's territorial waters and use all necessary means in order to repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, consistent with relevant international law. That mandate is due to expire on 1 December 2008, i.e. six months after the adoption of the resolution on 2 June 2008.
The meeting agreed on a number of specific measures to be taken by the IMO Secretary-General and the participating organizations, individually and collectively, to mobilize support and action from all sides in a position to assist.
The meeting further agreed that the need for any such measures was becoming increasingly urgent because of the immediate human concerns for the safety and wellbeing of seafarers and passengers who are currently being held hostage or may be caught up in future attacks; the continuing impact of the situation on the viability of transporting much-needed humanitarian assistance to Somalia; and its potential and significant detrimental effect on the world's commerce.
It was considered that, without adequate and coordinated protection for shipping, the current situation off Somalia might cause ship operators to avoid transiting through the Gulf of Aden, using the Cape of Good Hope instead, which would lead to increased shipping costs and, in turn, possible negative consequences for global trade - and, in the final analysis, the consumer - at a time when all nations are making efforts to address the current global financial crisis.
In this respect, the meeting was encouraged by the UN Security Council's adoption, on 7 October 2008, of resolution 1838 (2008), which calls upon States interested in the security of maritime activities to deploy naval vessels and military aircraft to actively fight piracy off the coast of Somalia, and expresses the Council's intention to remain seized of the matter with a view, in particular, to renewing the mandate granted in its earlier resolution 1816.
Briefing 45, 10 October 2008
United Nations Security Council
5987th Meeting (AM)
TO ‘ACTIVELY FIGHT PIRACY’ ON HIGH SEAS OFF SOMALIA
Unanimous Resolution 1838 (2008) Seeks Repressive Action
In Manner Consistent with United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea
Unanimously adopting resolution 1838 (2008) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council called upon States with naval vessels and military aircraft operating in the area to use, on the high seas and airspace off the coast of Somalia, the necessary means to repress acts of piracy in a manner consistent with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
States and regional organizations were urged to continue to take action to protect the World Food Programme (WFP) convoys, which was “vital” to bring humanitarian assistance to the affected populations in Somalia.
The draft resolution was sponsored by Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom and United States.
He said that, in the same letter that had conveyed the request for help against piracy, the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia had also asked for help regarding the transition to a permanent Government, urging the Security Council to seriously consider such help. He, therefore, reiterated the call of the African Union for deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation and for United Nations support for African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). In resolution 1814 (2008), the Council had committed itself to consider a peacekeeping operation to take over from AMISOM. He hoped the Council would also consider the second request the Government of Somalia had submitted.
The representative of Italy joined other members in welcoming the resolution, expressing hope that it would spur new action to fight piracy for the benefit of Somalia and the entire international community. He also underlined the need, however, for the Council to address the entire crisis in Somalia with urgency.
“Noting recent humanitarian reports that as many as three-and-a-half million Somalis will be dependent on humanitarian food aid by the end of the year, and that maritime contractors for the WFP will not deliver food aid to Somalia without naval warship escorts, expressing its determination to ensure long-term security of WFP deliveries to Somalia and recalling that it requested the Secretary-General in resolution 1814 (2008) to provide his support for efforts to protect WFP maritime convoys,
“Reaffirming its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia,
“Taking note of the letter dated 1 September 2008 of the President of Somalia to the Secretary-General of the United Nations expressing the appreciation of the Transitional Federal Government (“TFG”) to the Security Council for its assistance and expressing the TFG’s willingness to consider working with other States, as well as regional organizations, to provide advance notifications additional to those already provided, in accordance with paragraph 7 of resolution 1816 (2008), to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia,
“Recalling also that in the statement of its President dated 4 September (S/PRST/2008/33) it took note of the parties’ request in the Djibouti Agreement that the United Nations, within a period of 120 days, authorize and deploy an international stabilization force and looking forward to the Secretary-General’s report due 60 days from its passage, in particular a detailed and consolidated description of a feasible multinational force, as well as a detailed concept of operations for a feasible United Nations peacekeeping operation,
“Emphasizing that peace and stability, the strengthening of State institutions, economic and social development and respect for human rights and the rule of law are necessary to create the conditions for a full eradication of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia,
“Determining that the incidents of piracy and armed robbery against vessels in the territorial waters of Somalia and the high seas off the coast of Somalia exacerbate the situation in Somalia which continues to constitute a threat against international peace and security in the region,
“Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
“1. Reiterates that it condemns and deplores all acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea against vessels off the coast of Somalia;
“2. Calls upon States interested in the security of maritime activities to take part actively in the fight against piracy on the high seas off the coast of Somalia, in particular by deploying naval vessels and military aircraft, in accordance with international law, as reflected in the Convention;
“7. Calls upon States and regional organizations to coordinate their actions pursuant to paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 above;
“8. Affirms that the provisions in this resolution apply only with respect to the situation in Somalia and shall not affect the rights or obligations or responsibilities of member States under international law, including any rights or obligations under the Convention, with respect to any situation, and underscores in particular that this resolution shall not be considered as establishing customary international law;
“10. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”
5902nd Meeting (PM)
AUTHORIZES FOR SIX MONTHS ‘ALL NECESSARY MEANS’ TO REPRESS SUCH ACTS
Resolution 1816 (2008) Adopted Unanimously with Somalia’s Consent;
Measures Do Not Affect Rights, Obligations under Law of Sea Convention
By the terms of resolution 1816 (2008), which was unanimously adopted today, the Council decided that the States cooperating with the country’s transitional Government would be allowed, for a period of six months, to enter the territorial waters of Somalia and use “all necessary means” to repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, in a manner consistent with relevant provisions of international law.
The text was adopted with consent of Somalia, which lacks the capacity to interdict pirates or patrol and secure its territorial waters, following a surge in attacks on ships in the waters off the country’s coast, including hijackings of vessels operated by the World Food Programme and numerous commercial vessels -- all of which posed a threat “to the prompt, safe and effective delivery of food aid and other humanitarian assistance to the people of Somalia”, and a grave danger to vessels, crews, passengers and cargo.
Affirming that the authorization provided in the resolution applies only to the situation in Somalia and shall not affect the rights and obligations under the Law of the Sea Convention, nor be considered as establishing customary international law, the Council also requested cooperating States to ensure that anti-piracy actions they undertake do not deny or impair the right of innocent passage to the ships of any third State.
While urging States, whose naval vessels and military aircraft operate on the high seas and airspace of the coast of Somalia to be vigilant, the Council encouraged States interested in the use of commercial routes off the coast of Somalia to increase and coordinate their efforts to deter attacks upon and hijacking of vessels, in cooperation with the country’s Government. All States were urged to cooperate with each other, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and, as appropriate, regional organizations and render assistance to vessels threatened by or under attack by pirates.
Speaking prior to action on the draft, Indonesia’s representative emphasized the need for the draft to be consistent with international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to avoid creating a basis for customary international law for the repression of piracy and armed robbery at sea. Actions envisaged in the resolution should only apply to the territorial waters of Somalia, based upon that country’s prior consent. The resolution addressed solely the specific situation off the coast of Somalia, as requested by the Government.
Speaking after the vote, Viet Nam’s representative said the resolution should not be interpreted as allowing any actions in the maritime areas other than Somalia’s or under conditions contrary to international law and the Law of the Sea Convention.
The representative of Libya said he had voted in favour of the draft on the understanding that the resolution related only to acts of piracy in the maritime areas under jurisdiction of Somalia.
South Africa’s representative said that it was necessary to be clear that it was the situation in Somalia that constituted a threat to international peace and security and not sea piracy in itself.
China’s representative said that the Council’s actions should facilitate international assistance in combating piracy and avoid negative consequences. Such assistance should be based on the wishes of the Government and be applied only to the territorial waters of Somalia. It must comply with the Law of the Sea Convention and must not constitute conflict with existing international legislation. The resolution adopted today responded to those requirements to the greatest extent possible.
The meeting was called to order at 3:15 p.m. and adjourned at 3:40 p.m.
“The Security Council,
“Affirming that international law, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 (“the Convention”), sets out the legal framework applicable to combating piracy and armed robbery, as well as other ocean activities,
“Reaffirming the relevant provisions of international law with respect to the repression of piracy, including the Convention, and recalling that they provide guiding principles for cooperation to the fullest possible extent in the repression of piracy on the high seas or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of any State, including but not limited to boarding, searching, and seizing vessels engaged in or suspected of engaging in acts of piracy, and to apprehending persons engaged in such acts with a view to such persons being prosecuted,
“Reaffirming its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia,
“Noting the letters to the Secretary-General from the Secretary-General of the IMO dated 5 July 2007 and 18 September 2007 regarding the piracy problems off the coast of Somalia and the IMO Assembly resolution A.1002 (25), which strongly urged Governments to increase their efforts to prevent and repress, within the provisions of international law, acts of piracy and armed robbery against vessels irrespective of where such acts occur, and recalling the joint communiqué of the IMO and the World Food Programme of 10 July 2007,
“Taking note of the Secretary-General’s letter of 9 November 2007 to the President of the Security Council reporting that the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) needs and would welcome international assistance to address the problem,
“Taking further note of the letter from the Permanent Representative of the Somali Republic to the United Nations to the President of the Security Council dated 27 February 2008, conveying the consent of the TFG to the Security Council for urgent assistance in securing the territorial and international waters off the coast of Somalia for the safe conduct of shipping and navigation,
“Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
“2. Urges States whose naval vessels and military aircraft operate on the high seas and airspace off the coast of Somalia to be vigilant to acts of piracy and armed robbery and, in this context, encourages, in particular, States interested in the use of commercial maritime routes off the coast of Somalia, to increase and coordinate their efforts to deter acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea in cooperation with the TFG;
“4. Further urges States to work in cooperation with interested organizations, including the IMO, to ensure that vessels entitled to fly their flag receive appropriate guidance and training on avoidance, evasion, and defensive techniques and to avoid the area whenever possible;
(a) Enter the territorial waters of Somalia for the purpose of repressing acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, in a manner consistent with such action permitted on the high seas with respect to piracy under relevant international law; and
(b) Use, within the territorial waters of Somalia, in a manner consistent with action permitted on the high seas with respect to piracy under relevant international law, all necessary means to repress acts of piracy and armed robbery;
“8. Requests that cooperating States take appropriate steps to ensure that the activities they undertake pursuant to the authorization in paragraph 7 do not have the practical effect of denying or impairing the right of innocent passage to the ships of any third State;
“9. Affirms that the authorization provided in this resolution applies only with respect to the situation in Somalia and shall not affect the rights or obligations or responsibilities of Member States under international law, including any rights or obligations under the Convention, with respect to any other situation, and underscores in particular that it shall not be considered as establishing customary international law, and affirms further that this authorization has been provided only following receipt of the letter from the Permanent Representative of the Somalia Republic to the United Nations to the President of the Security Council dated 27 February 2008 (S/2008/XXX) conveying the consent of the TFG;
“10. Calls upon States to coordinate their actions with other participating States taken pursuant to paragraphs 5 and 7 above;
“11. Calls upon all States, and in particular flag, port and coastal States, States of the nationality of victims and perpetrators or piracy and armed robbery, and other States with relevant jurisdiction under international law and national legislation, to cooperate in determining jurisdiction, and in the investigation and prosecution of persons responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, consistent with applicable international law including international human rights law, and to render assistance by, among other actions, providing disposition and logistics assistance with respect to persons under their jurisdiction and control, such victims and witnesses and persons detained as a result of operations conducted under this resolution;
“13. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council within 5 months of adoption of this resolution on the implementation of this resolution and on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery in territorial waters and the high seas off the coast of Somalia;
“14. Requests the Secretary-General of the IMO to brief the Council on the basis of cases brought to his attention by the agreement of all affected coastal States, and duly taking into account the existing bilateral and regional cooperative arrangements, on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery;
“15. Expresses its intention to review the situation and consider, as appropriate, renewing the authority provided in paragraph 7 above for additional periods upon the request of the TFG;
Speaking prior to the vote, HASAN KLEIB (Indonesia) said that his country fully supported the request of Somalia -- as reflected in the Transitional Government’s letter to the President of the Council -- for international assistance in its efforts to address the acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coast of Somalia. In drafting a positive response to Somalia’s request, Indonesia had been guided by the need for the draft to be consistent with international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and would not envisage any modification of the existing carefully balanced law. Also, the text should not become a basis of customary international law for the repression of piracy and armed robbery at sea. Actions envisaged in the resolution shall only apply to the territorial waters of Somalia, based upon that country’s prior consent. The draft resolution must address solely the specific situation off the coast of Somalia, as requested by the Government.
Like Somalia and most Members of the United Nations, Indonesia was a faithful party to the Law of the Sea Convention and had a legal obligation to preserve the rights, obligations and responsibilities of Member States derived from it. Those had been carefully negotiated, in order to ensure, in a balanced manner, the interests of coastal and user States. Thus, it was his duty to voice strong reservations if there were actions envisioned by the Council, or any other forum, that could lead to modification, rewriting or redefining the Convention. Ample safeguards were needed. He was pleased that those considerations had materialized in the formulation of operative paragraph 9, which stated that “the authorization provided in this resolution … shall not affect the rights or obligations or responsibilities of Member States under international law, including any rights or obligations under the Convention, … and … it shall not be considered as establishing customary international law.” It was in the interests of all that existing laws and norms not be violated when taking steps against illegal or criminal acts.
Continued political instability in the country had led to the inability of its law enforcement to maintain stability and security, he continued. That situation also extended to the waters off the coast of Somalia. Thus, Somalia’s unique situation required an exceptional measure by the international community to deal with the problem of piracy and armed robbery against vessels.
Piracy and armed robbery at sea could affect the safety of international navigation, but the Council needed to exercise caution in trying to address such acts in other parts of the globe. He was pleased that such caution was exercised in operative paragraph 14, which requested the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to brief the Council on the basis of cases brought to his attention by the agreement of all affected coastal States, and duly taking into account the existing bilateral and cooperative arrangement, on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery. That caution undoubtedly reflected the Council’s commitment to uphold international law, in spirit and in letter. The principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity enshrined in the Charter had to be espoused by the Council at all times. In exercising its mandate in the maintenance of international peace and security, it was possible to do so without having to challenge the integrity of international law. Those two objectives were mutually reinforcing and not exclusive.
As it stood now, the text had accommodated those two fundamental principles, he said. Those were about consistency with the Law of the Sea Convention and the specific situation of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia. After all, the text, first and foremost, was about Somalia. It was about how the Council, together with the international community, could assist Somalia to fight the crime. The text would ensure that Somalia would be the beneficiary of common efforts. His delegation was now ready to support the draft.
The Council then unanimously adopted resolution 1816 (2008).
IBRAHIM O.A. DABBASHI ( Libya) said his delegation had voted in favour of the draft on the understanding that the resolution related only to acts of piracy in the maritime areas under jurisdiction of Somalia.
BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) welcomed the adoption of the text and said that in negotiating and agreeing on the resolution, his delegation had been guided by the fact that the text limited itself to the situation in Somalia. It was necessary to be clear that it was the situation in Somalia that constituted a threat to international peace and security, and not piracy in itself. Sea piracy was a symptom. Furthermore, the resolution must respect the Law of the Sea Convention, which remained the basis for cooperation among States on the issue of piracy. The Council should not lose focus on the larger situation in the country, most importantly the need to address the political, security and humanitarian situation on the ground.
He welcomed the adoption of resolution 1814 (2008) last month, which provided a signal to the people of Somalia that the international community was serious about assisting them in resolving their conflict. As provided in 1814, the Council was willing to consider, at the appropriate time, a peacekeeping operation to take over from the African Union Mission in Somalia, once there was progress in the political process and improvement in the security situation on the ground. He was pleased that the Council’s visit to Africa had begun with a discussion in Djibouti with key parties in Somalia. He hoped the visit would provide impetus to the ongoing international efforts to resolve the conflict in Somalia.
LA YIFAN ( China) said that his country had always respected the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of countries and supported the national reconciliation process in Somalia, which was trying to achieve peace and stability after 17 years of conflict. The Council’s visit to Africa had fully demonstrated the importance its members attached to the situation in Somalia.
The issue of piracy was closely related to the rights and obligations in the oceans, and the Council had to act with great prudence, he continued. Its actions should facilitate international assistance in combating piracy and avoid negative consequences. Such assistance should be based on the wishes of the Government and applied only to the territorial waters of Somalia, not expanding to other regions. It must comply with the Law of the Sea Convention and must not constitute conflict with existing international legislation. The resolution adopted today responded to those requirements to the greatest extent possible. It was both positive and prudent, and China had voted in favour of the draft.