UN urge sober approach in fighting piracy

November 19, 2009 12:00 am

, UNITED NATIONS, Nov 19 – Piracy on the high seas cannot be fought by international naval fleets alone, but requires a regional approach that also deals with its root causes, the UN Special Representative for Somalia said Wednesday.

"Piracy is a highly profitable business, we therefore have to address it as a criminal activity with many tentacles in the region and around the world," Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah told the UN Security Council.

He criticized making ransom payments, as Spain allegedly did this week to the tune of four million dollars for a trawler hijacked six weeks ago in the Indian Ocean. News of the payment was met with glee in Harardhere, a known pirate lair in Somalia.

"Paying ransom can only exacerbate the situation. Because if someone knows going to the casino that he will win, he\’ll keep going to the casino," Ould-Abdallah said.

While the deployment last year of an international naval fleet in the Gulf of Aden to curb piracy has "considerably reduced the number of successful incidents in the region," he said, the overall number of attacks has not diminished.

"The threat remains and in some ways is becoming more entrenched as more sophisticated methods are being adopted and attacks are taking place further out at sea."

The fight against piracy, Ould-Abdallah said, must be broader in scope. "It must be part of an overall plan which includes building regional capacity on the one hand, and dealing with its root causes on the other."

He said the strategy should include "establishing sustainable peace, effective governance, creating capable rule of law and security institutions, and offering the Somali people lawful alternatives to piracy and banditry."

At the regional level, the envoy stressed the role of the UN\’s International Maritime Organization\’s (IMO) in implementing the Djibouti code of conduct, signed by 10 countries in the region to facilitate information exchange and cooperation in bringing pirates to justice.

From January to September of this year, IMO reported 160 acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia, including 34 hijacked vessels and more than 450 people made hostage.


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