IMO Conference on Capacity Building to Counter Piracy off the Coast of Somalia
Opening address by Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization, 15 May 2012
Excellencies, Ministers, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
The word “Somalia”, in a maritime context, leads almost exclusively to thoughts of piracy. And yet, as internal conflict and famine so clearly highlight, piracy is but one manifestation of the widespread and deep-rooted problems that beset that country and its people.
In the early stages of the Somali piracy crisis, the emphasis of the response was, understandably, on protecting merchant vessels from pirate attacks. The mobilization and coordination of naval forces, the establishment of the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor and the development of the Best Management Practices are all examples of this approach in action.
While not diminishing in any way the importance of such immediate, preventative measures and the need for their full implementation by all concerned, an ever-greater emphasis will now have to be placed on building capacity, within the region affected, to tackle the problem. What we now see emerging is a wider programme of activity, aimed at finding new ways to equip the countries of the region with the tools and the expertise they need to do this.
IMO itself has had a long involvement in combating piracy, not just Somali based but also in other parts of the world. IMO was, for example, instrumental in establishing the framework for collaboration among the littoral States of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore and the South China Sea, the ReCAAP Agreement and its Information Sharing Centre in Singapore, which proved successful in significantly reducing the number of acts of piracy in that region.
More recently, IMO was first in drawing the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia to the attention of the United Nations Security Council; and, since then, it has been in the vanguard of counter-piracy efforts, often on its own initiative and often in collaboration with others.
Our conference today has its background in a meeting I had at UN Headquarters in New York in January, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in which we discussed co-operation between IMO and the UN to combat Somalia-based piracy.
Mr. Ban and I discussed how capacity building in Somalia and neighbouring countries should be enhanced through further co operation between IMO and the UN, UN specialized agencies and other relevant international organizations, building on IMO’s existing capacity-building activities under the Djibouti Code of Conduct and its associated Trust Fund.
The purpose of this conference is, therefore, to share information, experiences and ideas about such initiatives with a view to ensuring that an effective, coordinated response can be established.
For IMO’s part, our intention is to continue our capacity-building programme in the region in general and, in particular, under the framework of the Djibouti Code of Conduct. I am pleased to report that yesterday’s ministerial review meeting, here at IMO, agreed that excellent progress has been made in the Code’s implementation. However, the meeting agreed to review the status of the Code in the coming 2 years.
I have pledged my determination to redouble my effort to accelerate capacity building for implementation of the Code and provided my vision for the coming 2 years covering:
– legal advisory service;
– enhanced training;
– accelerated implementation of the DCoC in waters near the Mozambique channel;
– action programme for Somalia in the context of implementation of the Code; and
– a stronger governance structure.
Today, upon my invitation, representatives of the United Nations, United Nations Political Office for Somalia, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, World Food Programme, European Union and EUNAVFOR are attending, together with representatives of IMO Member Governments and the industry, including a representative of the International Chamber of Commerce.
During today’s Conference, the IMO Secretariat, through the Djibouti Code of Conduct Project Implementation Unit will provide the current status of IMO’s Counter Piracy support programme.
We will receive a presentation from UNPOS on its Somalia support programme covering the present work for co-ordination of counter-piracy activities and maritime law enforcement issues under the Kampala process in which UNODC, FAO, UNDP and Interpol are participating.
We will receive a presentation from UNODC on its counter-piracy capacity-building programme. We will ensure a co-ordinated approach between IMO and UNODC, in particular, in the context of the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct.
We will receive a presentation by FAO on our joint work under the Kampala-process, dealing with maritime law enforcement issues, including the issue of prevention of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
We will receive a presentation by the WFP dealing with the issue of protection for WFP shipping, delivering food aid to Somalia.
We will receive a presentation from the representative of the EU on existing EC projects being implemented in close co operation with IMO, including the recently launched new comprehensive project on Regional Maritime Capacity Building in the region off the coast of Somalia.
We will also listen to presentations and comments from Member Governments and industry representatives.
Towards the end of today’s conference, we are expecting to sign:
• A Joint Declaration on a partnership between the European Union (EU) and IMO to counter maritime piracy and armed robbery in the Western Indian Ocean; and
• Joint Commitments to a strategic partnership to combat piracy in and off the coast of Somalia between:
– FAO and IMO;
– UNODC and IMO; and
– UNPOS and IMO;
as the major outputs of this conference.
This is an overview of today’s Conference, and I am looking forward to:
• presentations of on-going activities by representatives of the Agencies; and
• meaningful discussions to follow;
so that we can agree on a more coordinated approach for our capacity-building effort in the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia.