The United States Response to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
January 20, 2017


Fighting piracy is a vital element of the United States' strategic objectives in Somalia, which are to help this stressed nation to regain stability, eliminate terrorism, and respond to the humanitarian needs of its people. United States actions are consistent with its traditional interest in ensuring freedom of navigation and safety of the seas, and in protecting American citizens and ensuring access to essential resources. With the international community’s success in suppressing pirate attacks since 2009, the United States has increasingly turned toward the twin aims of building Somali counter piracy institutions and ensuring that pirate ringleaders are brought to justice for crimes committed.

The U.S. Government Counter-Piracy Steering Group. An executive-level body created to implement the U.S. Counter Piracy and Maritime Security Action Plan, this group is co-chaired by the Departments of State and Defense and reports to the National Security Staff. The Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury, Transportation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development also participate in this Steering Group.

Encouraging International Cooperation and Action at Sea. The United States has worked in close consultation with other members of the United Nations Security Council to adopt Resolutions 1816 (2008), 1838 (2008), 1846 (2008), 1851 (2008), 1897 (2009), 1950 (2010), 1976 (2011), 2020 (2011), 2036 (2012), 2077 (2012), and 2125 (2013), authorizing international action in Somalia and its territorial waters against pirates. In January 2009, the United States helped to create and remains actively engaged with the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to coordinate and expand international counter-piracy efforts. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard support and contribute to the Combined Maritime Force’s Task Force 151 and NATO Operation OCEAN SHIELD to undertake counter-piracy operations in the region. The United States strongly supports prosecution of suspected pirates by flag and regional states, and the U.S. Department of Justice actively prosecutes pirates who have attacked U.S. citizens and interests. Finally, the United States works with and through UN agencies such as the International Maritime Organization, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the UN Assistance Mission to Somalia, the UN Development Program, and other partners to support efforts to develop regional maritime security sector capacity.

For further information, please visit http://www.state.gov/t/pm/ppa/piracy/index.htm

Point of Contact: Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/CPA), U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520, pm-cpa@state.gov.