Making Contact

The United States has joined with partners from 60 countries and international organizations at the United Nations in New York, for a plenary meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

This is part of a growing diplomatic effort to confront criminal activity that threatening commerce and humanitarian aid deliveries along one of the world’s busiest shipping corridors.

The plenary, hosted by Turkey, will be the eighth gathering of this outstanding international partnership, which was established following the adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1851 to coordinate an effective international response to piracy in the Somali Basin and surrounding waters. Since its initial meeting in January 2009, the Contact Group has nearly doubled in size ? a testament to the global consensus that piracy poses a shared security challenge to maritime safety and that the current situation requires further concerted and coordinated international action. Among its accomplishments, the Contact Group has:

· Facilitated the operational coordination of an unprecedented international naval effort from 20 countries working together to protect transiting vessels and patrol the vast waters of the region. The United States coordinates with NATO and the European Union in these efforts, and also looks to further develop counter-piracy cooperation with countries like 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 use of the Contact Group’s Best Management Practices and other counter-piracy guidance has proven to be the most effective deterrents against pirate attacks.

· Supported the creation of a Trust Fund at the United Nations to defray expenses related to prosecuting suspected and imprisoning convicted pirates and other Contact Group initiatives. The United States supports capacity-building programs to help countries in the region and elsewhere become more self-sufficient in confronting pirate attacks and prosecuting suspected pirates and their enablers and imprisoning those convicted.

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