In a September 9 ceremony held at the United Nations on the eve of a meeting of the international Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, the United States signed the New York Declaration, in which it committed to promulgate internationally recognized best management practices for protection of ships against piracy attacks.
The maritime industry, including that of the United States, was instrumental in creating and implementing these best practices, having adopted and documented self-protection measures against piracy as part of its compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code. The United States’ formal signature indicates its commitment to implementing measures that it has already encouraged and followed.
Cyprus, Japan, Singapore, and the United Kingdom joined the United States in signing the Declaration.
Panama, the Bahamas, Liberia and the Marshall Islands, four of the leading ship-registry states, originally announced and adopted the New York Declaration during the Contact Group’s previous meeting on May 29, 2009 (www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2009/05/124107.htm). Now, nine nations have committed to put in place effective measures that make it far more difficult for their flagged vessels to be seized by pirates. 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 Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia will meet on September 10, 2009, at the United Nations. During the plenary, the United States will urge all other Contact Group participants to join in signing the New York Declaration.
The United States participates actively in the Contact Group, requires its merchant fleet to adopt and document these self-protection measures, chairs the Contact Group’s Working Group on Strengthening Shipping Self-Awareness and Other Capabilities, engages in criminally prosecuting suspected pirates, conducts naval patrols off the Horn of Africa, and provides support to NATO and European Union counter-piracy operations in those areas.
To learn more about the United States’ and international community’s response to piracy off the coast of Somalia, visit www.state.gov/t/pm/rls/fs/128540.htm.