The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday reiterated its condemnation of all acts of piracy and armed robbery against vessels in the waters off the coast of Somalia, and urged the international community to formulate a comprehensive response for repressing the scourge and tackling its root causes.
In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member Council recognized that one of the underlying causes of the problem is "the ongoing instability in Somalia" and underlined the Horn of Africa nation's primary responsibility in fighting it.
The Council also requested "the Somali authorities, with assistance from the Secretary-General and relevant UN entities, to pass a complete set of counter-piracy laws without further delay."
The Council called on the Somali authorities to investigate and prosecute pirates and to patrol the territorial waters off the Somali coast to suppress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, stressing that such steps are essential for strengthening the country's maritime capacity.
In addition, the Council renewed its call on all states and regional organizations to take part in the fight against piracy off the Somali coast by deploying naval vessels, arms and military aircraft and through seizures and disposition of boats, vessels, arms and other related equipment used in the commission of such crimes.
The Council also reiterated its decision to continue its consideration, as a matter of urgency, of the establishment of specialized anti-piracy courts in Somalia and other States in the region with substantial international participation and support.
Wednesday's resolution followed a day-long Council debate on piracy on Monday. During the debate, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson had noted that there was a sharp decline in pirate attacks in waters off the coast of East Africa this year when compared to 2011. He, however cautioned that this trend could easily be reversed if the causes of piracy such as instability, lawlessness and ineffective governance are not addressed.
According to the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO), there were 291 attacks against ships in the first ten months of 2012. The IMO identified East Africa, West Africa and the Far East as areas most affected by piracy and noted that pirates are still holding 293 seafarers hostage.
"Combating piracy requires a multi-dimensional approach. In Somalia, this has meant stabilizing the country through a Somali-owned process. The new President of Somalia has made an impressive start, but challenges remain significant. We need to move swiftly to support the Government so that it finally can provide the security and peace dividends that Somalis deserve," Eliasson said.
Eliasson noted that the urgent measures needed to be implemented in Somalia to end piracy include focusing on modernizing counter-piracy laws, strengthening capacities for maritime law enforcement and crime investigation, supporting regional networks, as well as knowledge sharing.
Somalia's coastline, particularly the Gulf of Aden, has been infested with pirates in recent years. The problem persists despite the presence of several warships deployed by navies of the NATO, the European Union, Russia, China, South Korea and India to protect cargo and cruise ships against piracy.
In recent months, pirates have extended their operations deep into the Indian Ocean to avoid interception by international anti-piracy forces patrolling the Gulf of Aden, off the Somali coast and parts of the Indian Ocean.
by RTT Staff Writer
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