SRSG Mahiga addresses the International Contact Group 18th Meeting on Piracy

28 Sep 2010

SRSG Mahiga addresses the International Contact Group 18th Meeting on Piracy

Madrid, 28 September 2010 – SRSG Mahiga welcomed the opportunity to make his first statement as the new SRSG for Somalia on the subject of Piracy.


I welcome this opportunity to make my first statement as the new SRSG for Somalia on the subject of Piracy.

The scourge of Piracy and its effects on the regional economies of east Africa and the wider economies of the world that depend on freedom of the seas to bring vital products to their countries has attracted much effort from the international community to counter the pirates, for which I commend them. I also commend the vital work being done by the Contact Group for Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia and the very active working groups who have striven to bring support in key areas. I welcome the significant steps being taken to resolve legal and prosecution capacity and the recent Security Council Presidential Statement addresses advancing cooperation between states on prosecuting and imprisoning people responsible for Piracy. I also express my gratitude to those countries who currently shoulder this burden, at the moment 10 states are prosecuting pirates but I would single out Kenya and the Seychelles who have bourn the brunt of this problem.

However I want to use my time today to put Piracy in context of the overall solution to Somalia. Some of you will say that solution is a long way off and that Piracy needs to be fought now, other will rightly say the solution to Piracy lies on the Land and not at Sea. I would say that it is vitally important that the work of the CG on Piracy, the TFG's own Piracy Task Force, military action and development in the security and humanitarian sectors all be woven into the overall construct of a solution for Somalia as a whole.
In my view we need coordination in the following key areas: Firstly POLITICAL. All of our activity to counter Piracy must be conducted under the overall strategy of the Djibouti agreement and contribute to a solution for the whole of Somalia under a federal structure. The International Communities desire to end the scourge of piracy, supported by the TFG must be delivered as part of, and not independent from, a package of balanced measures that contribute to the political stability of Somalia. In dealing with Regional administrations in Somaliland, Puntland and most recently Galmadug, activity must promote political and security stability equally, and these administrations must be seen to have taken action and not be complacent to the activity of pirate groups and those that fund and support them, before they receive the benefits of aid and development.
However there is a dilemma and I and other partners remain concerned that unless we enhance the stability of these regional administrations, at a time when they too are vulnerable to Al Shabaab and other terrorist groups, we could see the security situation deteriorate beyond the point of no return and not be in a position to provide the security conditions in which we can conduct security sector reform and development work so essential for stability and our counter piracy programme. I am also concerned that as Armed Opposition Groups grow stronger they may well link up with or receive funding from Pirate Groups in the region and why I stress to the Regional Administrations and the TFG not to be complacent to this problem.
Coordination in the Political area work falls under the purview of the Kampala Process, which I am taking steps to invigorate, and direction from the High Level Political Committee (HLC). Connected to this work is the vital activity of the Sanctions Monitoring Group and sanctions on those responsible for Piracy.
The next area is MILITARY. There are two key aspects I want to draw attention to. Firstly we have a dilemma which I do not have the answer to, but highlight for thought by your military staffs..... It is, that whilst the naval operations have had significant success in the first 10 months of this year with the number of attacks falling to 151 from 181 from the previous period last year, we are expending serious naval capacity to counter this activity and yet we are doing nothing to address the inshore problem between the land and international waters. This, in part is a legal issue and partly that this is a massive coastline and would require major resources. Working Group 1 has looked at capacity requirements and we have proposals from Puntland. But as many will know, and I mentioned earlier, there are concerns with developing Coast Guard capacity in the region when there are issues of complacency to piracy and security. This dilemma needs addressing and more thought given by military planners into dealing with deterring pirates from putting to sea in the first place – this will require good intelligence and a will to conduct robust deterrence operations closer to shore.
This leads me to my next issue and that is .... Military activity by the International Task Forces at Sea conducting Maritime Security Operations must support and be complimentary to the overall security architecture of Somalia. The various naval task forces need to take cognisance of the Somalia Political environment and their work to engage with Somali administrations needs to contribute to the wider work done in the political field and development work by agencies such as UNODC and UNDP. Maritime Operations need to be also co-ordinated with Land Operations by AMISOM and National Security Forces. Proposed maritime operations by the AU and IGAD off the coast of Somalia and its key ports need to be co-ordinated and de conflicted with activity by coalition naval forces.
I have said many times recently, as have regional heads of state and IGAD, that we need better maritime security in the region to prevent and deter the continued re supply of Al Shabaab through the port of Kismayo (and other ports). As we attempt to build TFG forces and AMISOM remains below optimum levels the effort is being undermined by re supply from the sea of the opposition forces and this is unacceptable given the naval forces we have in the region. I call on those countries and organisations that provide maritime forces in the region to extend their reach to cover the whole of the Somali coastline and whilst I understand naval blockades are expensive and resource heavy, I do believe that we can mount significant deterrence patrols to stop the re supply of people, weapons and equipment to Al Shabaab through Somali ports. Al Shabaab gains significant funding from un regulated use of the port and this funding is used to sustain the fight against the TFG and AMISOM, making our job significantly more difficult.
In the area of SECURITY SECTOR REFORM. Vital work is under way by the Contact Group on Piracy and its working groups to develop regional and Somali capacity on land and inshore waters, this must be linked to the construct of Security Sector Institution building as set out in the Somalia Security Assessment. Development of a Coast Guard or Coastal Monitoring capability must fit into the National Security Forces architecture. Development of Police, Legal reforms and Prisons must be complimentary to a national Rule of Law programme and to the needs of the military maritime operation against Piracy. This reform activity falls under the overall purview of the JSC for Security Sector reform and in particular the Military, Police and the Justice Sector Technical Working Groups and the Piracy Task Force. Work is needed to bring together the excellent work by the Contact Group on Piracy, UNODC and those charged under the Djibouti agreement with Security Sector reform.
Finally DEVELOPMENT. Programmes to rehabilitate areas affected by Piracy are key to a long term solution to the problem. Balance and co-ordination is required between programmes, and maximum advantage made to promote development in the coastal region to re establish traditional economic, industrial and agricultural activity and to offer alternative livelihoods to those currently engaged in Piracy and Piracy Support activity. This is a significant challenge given the large amounts of money provided by the ransom process to local communities. Education and Health projects are equally important in the Coastal region and supportive to an overall solution. Activity to protect the Somali EEZ and to harness licencing of fishing needs to be undertaken and co-ordinated with activity in the military SSR programme. Consideration of a maritime trust fund to handle income distribution from fishing licences and other maritime licences on behalf of the TFG (and regional administrations) until such time as government institutions are sufficiently robust to administer this themselves.
In all of this we must remember that Pirates kidnap people and the human misery that is caused to individuals and their families is very significant. At the moment 354 innocent crew from 16 ships are held for ransom by pirates. This is unacceptable, if the Somali people want to be taken seriously and have the World assist them with developing as a state, then this activity must be stopped and stopped soon. I implore the TFG, Puntland and the regional administration in Galmadug to use their best efforts to bring an end to this process of kidnapping. If you want the International Community to help, and fund Somalia's recovery, you have in your hands the means to end this barbaric activity.
Instinctively I do not believe in the payment of ransoms but understand the difficulties the shipping industry face, but it is making the whole business of a solution in Somalia more difficult for us to achieve. I hope the naval forces will take seriously my request for better security and deterrence at sea, to stop our soldiers being killed and injured by terrorists with ammunition supplied by sea and air from outside Somalia.
Thank You