Statement by SRSG Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah to the United Nations Security Council

23 Nov 2009

Statement by SRSG Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah to the United Nations Security Council

New York, 18 November 2009

Members have before them the Secretary-General's report pursuant to Security Council resolution 1846 (2008). Let me highlight the key observations.

First of all piracy is a highly profitable business – we therefore have to address it as a criminal activity with many tentacles in many places in the region and around the world

The deployment of naval ships and military aircraft to suppress piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia as well as better self-protection of ships transiting the area have considerably reduced the number of successful incidents in region, especially in the Gulf of Aden. This expanding maritime presence is playing a critical role in stabilizing the situation at sea and there is no doubt that the number of successful attacks would increase again if these military assets were reduced. The naval escorts protecting WFP shipments are providing crucial protection for the delivering humanitarian aid to Somalia.

At the same time, the number of pirate 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. At further financial cost to them; a risk they still see as worthwhile.

Therefore the approach to combating piracy cannot be limited to the containment of the problem by international naval forces alone no matter how successful. 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.

In addition to various bilateral initiatives being undertaken by Member States, regional capacity-building is being undertaken through the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized UN agency steering the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct. This Code of Conduct aims to establish a cooperation framework between regional states combating piracy, both at the operational and the legal levels. This covers interdicting ships suspected of piracy, information-sharing between regional states, and prosecution of suspected pirates. Piracy's root causes are being addressed by UNPOS and the my colleagues in the UN System whose joint action focuses on establishing sustainable peace, effective governance, creating capable rule of law and security institutions, and offering the Somali people lawful alternatives to piracy and banditry. I would like to address these issues in more detail:

The report highlights the role played by the IMO in promulgating guidance for Governments, seafarers and the global maritime industry in suppressing piracy and armed robbery against ships; and developing and implementing a regional strategy for the Western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. This is the essence of the Djibouti Code of Conduct, which has been signed by ten States from the region. IMO, and its Member States, have long recognized that piracy is a symptom of the lack of effective government and the rule of law ashore. With this aspect in mind, IMO has been working actively in partnership with UNODC and other UN bodies, Interpol, and navies to develop regional States' capacities to enforce the law at sea and, in particular, countering piracy and armed robbery against ships in waters off the coast of Somalia

On the prosecution of suspected pirates, caught by the international naval forces operation off the coast of Somalia, UNODC has been providing assistance to regional states. Although all agencies agree that the ideal solution to the trial of pirates is a fair and effective court system in Somalia, that goal is out of reach for the time being. UNODC and OLA at Headquarters are leading on the best alternative: ensuring trial within a sound legal framework in other regional states. Through the delivery of support directly to the police, prosecutors, courts and prisons of Kenya and Seychelles, UNODC is creating the conditions in which the arresting states are content to pass suspects over for trial and improving overall criminal justice standards. The programme is expanding to other regional states by conducting legal assessments and delivering assistance and, in partnership with UNDP, will develop the prisons (and later the prosecutors and police investigators) in some entities and authorities in Somalia such as Somaliland and Puntland to create the conditions in which pirates convicted outside Somalia can be returned home to serve their prison sentences.

The UN plans to implement high-impact interventions primarily in Puntland. Civilian policing performance and infrastructure (especially communications) in the strategic corridor Bossaso-Qardho-Garowe-Galkayo will be and should be strengthened. After this, in mid-2010, Puntland authorities will roll out police services to the rural and coastal areas.
In addition to the UN working closely to contain and combat the root causes of piracy, the UN has been closely working with INTERPOL. INTERPOL's law enforcement strategy to combat maritime piracy is threefold: to increase intelligence-sharing, build regional police capacity, and finally cooperate with other international and regional Organizations. The goal is to support efforts to identify, arrest and prosecute pirates, trace and seize ransom monies, and disrupt criminal networks. The first priority has been promoting information-sharing with all police and non-police organizations including UN, naval and shipping industry partners. The INTERPOL I-24/7 global secure communications network is designed to facilitate this type of collaboration is helping to expand access in the region. INTERPOL is also working with a number of governments including the US and the UK on maritime piracy financial investigations, and will host a Maritime Piracy Conference early next year.
I also welcome the proposal made by the regional body IGAD last May to establish a blockade of known ports that are supporting piracy. I think that measure will send a clear message against these port handlers.
In conclusion, I would like to stress the importance that any long-term effort to address lawlessness at sea be must complementary to the current political, security, recovery and development efforts already being undertaken by the United Nations and AMISOM. In this regard I welcome the intention of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to coordinate its initiatives with the International Contact Group on Somalia. Piracy is a symptom of wider problems onshore in Somalia.
The only sustainable solution will be effective governance, the establishment of the rule of law and security institutions and the creation of alternative livelihoods in Somalia for stable and inclusive economic growth. In the present government we have a credible and legitimate partner with whom to work to achieve this. It needs more assistance to do so.


Thank you all for your support to me and my colleagues.

Everyone is in agreement that in order to address the issue of piracy, security on land needs to be prioritized. To do so, donors must deliver financial and other assistance to the TFG as promised in Brussels last April. It is vital that the salaries of the police are paid. Without this, there is little point in training them, as without a means to provide for their families, they will take payments from extremists.
Training without stipend will simply make them better and more effective insurgents. We cannot simply talk about supporting the TFG. We must do it effectively.
It is unfair that the burden of providing security in Somalia is left to AMISOM alone. I commend the efforts of the Ugandan and Burundian troops who operate in very difficult circumstances. They too need further assistance and money pledged in Brussels to support AMISOM must be delivered without delay. We must also acknowledge the positive role played by the AU: the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Presidency, the Chair as well as the Commissioner for Peace and Security.
Many thanks to those countries who have initiated new mechanisms not to analyse or advise but to help directly the Government. These are: China, Libya, Norway and the United States. Others; Algeria, Djibouti, Kenya and Yemen have also provided important help.
I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage the Diaspora to do all it can to help bring peace, security and prosperity to the country of their birth. The Diaspora's ability to positively help Somalia is real and must be used efficiently.
In terms of the political situation, and peace in Somalia, the Government has survived several armed and foreign supported attempts to unseat it. It needs to be strengthened. This can be done by continued implementation of the Djibouti Agreement. There is a need, despite the progress made, for further reconciliation by the Somalis. The Djibouti Agreement provides the mechanism for this to happen. Indeed, presently, any external mediation may do more harm than good. We must always operate first and foremost on a do no damage basis. Further reconciliation should be done by Somalis inside Somalia. This is what they are good at.