The United States joined partners from over 40 countries, international organizations, and the private sector in Djibouti, November 10–14, for the 15th Plenary of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.
The plenary, chaired by the United States and hosted by the Government of Djibouti, continued efforts by this outstanding international partnership to safeguard commerce and humanitarian aid deliveries along one of the world’s busiest shipping corridors. The Plenary also marked the passing of the Contact Group chairmanship from the United States in 2013 to the European Union for 2014. Since its initial meeting in January 2009, the Contact Group has nearly tripled in size while successful pirate attacks have declined to zero so far this year. And thanks in part to the Contact Group’s concerted efforts, there has not been a successful pirate attack on a commercial vessel off the Horn of Africa in more than 18 months. This demonstrates the clear global consensus that has emerged against piracy, as well as the recognition that concerted coordinated international action was needed in response. Among its accomplishments to date, the Contact Group has:
• Facilitated operational coordination of an unprecedented international naval effort of more than 30 countries working together to protect transiting vessels. The United States coordinates in these efforts with other multilateral coalitions such as Combined Maritime Forces, NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield, the European Union’s Operation ATALANTA, and independent deployers such as China, India, Japan, and Russia.
• Partnered with the shipping industry to improve practical steps merchant ships and crews can take to avoid, deter, delay, and counter pirate attacks. The shipping industry’s use of Best Management Practices and the increasing use of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel are among these measures, which continue to be the most effective deterrents against pirate attacks.
• Strengthened the capacity of Somalia and other countries in the region to counter piracy, in particular by contributing to the UN Trust Fund Supporting Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia; and
• Advanced new initiatives aimed at disrupting the pirates’ networks ashore through law enforcement approaches similar to those used to target other types of organized transnational criminal networks.