International efforts to combat piracy in the Horn of Africa region received a boost when the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, chaired by Japan, convened its fourth plenary at the United Nations in New York on September 10. At the meeting, Contact Group participants:
- Agreed that Piracy in the Horn of Africa Remains a Serious Shared Security Challenge. 17 new countries came to the table in New York, bringing the Contact Group to 45 participating nations, seven international organizations (the African Union, the Arab League, the European Union, INTERPOL, the International Maritime Organization, NATO, and the UN Secretariat), and two major maritime industry groups, BIMCO and INTERTANKO, taking part as observers.
- Assessed how improving coordination of international naval patrols is making a positive contribution toward improving maritime security in the waters off the Horn of Africa. An unprecedented international armada of 20 Contact Group participants, including the United States, NATO, the EU, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Russia, and Singapore are working together at sea to help safeguard regional shipping. These efforts are complemented by Contact Group work to help Somalia and its neighbors to improve their ability to secure their own territorial waters.
- Approved a new UN Multi-Donor Trust Fund to help defray the expenses associated with prosecuting suspected pirates. All governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector will be able to contribute to this trust fund, which will complement the International Maritime Organization’s International Trust Fund that is building maritime security and judicial capacity among countries near the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Aden. During the plenary, the United States also called for an examination by subject matter experts of the various illicit financial systems and flows that help to sustain piracy off the coast of Somalia.
- Expanded political support for the “New York Declaration.” The Declaration is a political commitment by nations to enact internationally recognized best management practices to protect vessels against pirate attacks. The United States, Cyprus, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and the United Kingdom signed the Declaration. These six new signatories along with Panama, Liberia, the Bahamas, and the Marshall Islands, who introduced the Declaration in May 2009, account for more than fifty percent of the world’s shipping by gross tonnage.
“As Secretary Clinton has said, piracy is a 17th Century problem that demands a 21st Century solution,” Assistant Secretary for Political Military Affairs Andrew J. Shapiro told participants at the September 16 Global Maritime Information Sharing Symposium. “The Contact Group is encouraging international cooperation among naval patrols, promoting shipping self-protection measures, arranging for the prosecution of suspected pirates, and building the capacity of countries victimized by piracy.”
Assistant Secretary Shapiro’s remarks are available at http://www.state.gov/t/pm/rls/rm/129258.htm>. To learn more about the United States’ and international community’s response to piracy off the coast of Somalia, visit http://www.state.gov/t/pm/ppa/piracy/index.htm.