East Africa: At Security Council, UN Deputy Secretary-General Flags Need for 'Multi-Dimensional' Approach to Combating Piracy

The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, today stressed the need to address the causes of piracy with a "multi-dimensional approach" to ensure the safety of seafarers, fishermen and passengers and avoid damage to the fishing and tourism industries.

"Piracy and armed robbery against ships is a global concern," Mr. Eliasson told the Security Council at UN Headquarters in New York, during a debate on maritime piracy as a threat to international peace and security. "It affects the freedom of shipping and the safety of shipping lanes that carry about 90 per cent of the world's trade."

According to the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO), there were 291 attacks against ships in the first ten months of 2012 and pirates are still holding 293 seafarers hostage. The areas most affected are East Africa, West Africa and the Far East.

Introducing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's report on piracy off the coast of Somalia to the Council, Mr. Eliasson noted that although there was a sharp decline in pirate attacks in waters off the coast of East Africa this year, compared to 2011, this trend could easily be reversed if the causes of piracy such as instability, lawlessness and ineffective governance are not addressed.

"Combating piracy requires a multi-dimensional approach," Mr. Eliasson said. "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."

Measures that are needed in the Horn of Africa country to end piracy include focussing on modernizing counter-piracy laws, strengthening capacities for maritime law enforcement and crime investigation, supporting regional networks, as well as knowledge sharing. To do this, the Deputy Secretary-General stated, Member States, international and regional organizations must continue to build consensus on a joint response.

"Piracy is a problem the international community can address successfully if we continue to work together," Mr. Eliasson said. "The UN remains committed to working with its partners to consolidate international assistance, coordinate our activities, and deliver a comprehensive response to this threat."

The world body is helping States in different capacities, such as through the UN Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) piracy programme, the UN official added.

Last week, UNODC's Executive Director, Yuri Fedotov, began a ten-day visit counter-piracy mission to the region. In Seychelles on Friday, he stressed the impact of piracy on countries' economies.

"Piracy is immensely damaging to local economies and to local livelihoods," Mr. Fedotov said. "In the Seychelles, it has prevented ships from fishing; between Kenya and Uganda it is raising transport costs; and from Somalia, some 1,200 fit and able young men have been detained and imprisoned across the world."

During his visit, the UNODC chief met with top Government officials to discuss the country's commitment to addressing piracy and ensuring those suspected of committing the crime are given fair trials according to international standards.

The mission to East Africa is part of UNODC's $55 million counter-piracy programme operating in five different locations, and designed to support efforts to detain and prosecute piracy suspects in accordance with human rights and the rule of law.

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