In a September 9 keynote address to the ComDef 2009 defense policy conference in Washington, D.C., Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J. Shapiro announced that later in the day, the United States will sign the “New York Declaration,” a non-binding political document committing ship registry states to promulgate internationally recognized best management practices for protection of their vessels against piracy. Shapiro praised the New York Declaration as part of what Secretary Clinton has called “a 21st century solution to the 17th century problem” of piracy.
The United States’ formal signature indicates its commitment to implement measures that it has already encouraged and followed through compliance with U.S. Coast Guard directives on ship security. U.S. shipping companies have been instrumental in creating and implementing these best practices, having adopted and documented self-protection measures against piracy as part of their compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code. Examples of the best practices developed and implemented by all of the major international shipping industry organizations include increasing lookouts, ensuring that ladders are raised, and readying fire pumps to repel boarders.The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs also leads U.S. Government participation in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, an ad hoc diplomatic grouping of nearly 40 participating nations and international organizations that is coordinating international naval patrols and shipping self-protection, as well as efforts to discourage the payment of ransoms, and build the capacity and political will of countries affected by piracy to interdict and prosecute suspected pirates.
The New York Declaration was initially presented by four of the world’s largest ship registries - Panama, the Bahamas, Liberia, and the Marshall Islands - at the Contact Group’s May 2009 plenary session. The United States will be joined by Cyprus, Japan, Singapore, and the United Kingdom in signing the New York Declaration on the eve of the Contact Group’s Fourth Plenary Session, to be held September 10 at U.N. Headquarters in New York.
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.
For more information, please visit the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ new Counter Piracy Web page, at: http://www.state.gov/t/pm/ppa/piracy/index.htm