In recognition of the growing impact of piracy on commercial shipping, humanitarian aid, and regional trade in the Horn of Africa, the United States and its international partners created the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia in New York on January 14, 2009.
The Contact Group was formed as an international cooperation mechanism against piracy, as called for in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1851, which was sponsored by the United States and passed unanimously on December 16, 2008.
The Department of State leads the United States Government’s participation in the Contact Group, in close coordination with the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, Transportation, Treasury, and other agencies.
Currently, 28 nations participate in the Contact Group: Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, The Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, and Yemen. Several other nations have requested to participate.
Six international organizations also participate in Contact Group efforts: the African Union, the Arab League, the European Union, the International Maritime Organization, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the United Nations Secretariat.
Contact Group participants have established four working groups:
· Military and Operational Coordination, Information Sharing, and Capacity Building, chaired by the United Kingdom;
· Judicial Issues, chaired by Denmark;
· Commercial Industry Coordination, chaired by the United States; and
· Public Information, chaired by Egypt.
The Contact Group held its first plenary meeting at the United Nations in New York on January 14, which was followed by a second meeting in Cairo, Egypt, March 17. The Contact Group will meet next on May 29, 2009, in New York.