UN debates piracy — for the first time

Centuries after piracy was recognized as the first international crime against humanity, the UN Security Council held its first debate Monday on piracy’s rise as a threat to world peace and security.

It’s a big business, with pirates raking in an average of $5 million in ransom for each seized ship, costing the maritime industry at least $6.6 billion a year in extra security costs.

In the past, the council has focused on regional piracy outbreaks such as those off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Guinea off West Africa and in Southeast Asia.

Monday’s debate was called by Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, who holds the council presidency this month. Seven per cent of all maritime workers are Indian nationals, and many have been taken hostage. Puri said 43 Indian citizens are being held hostage by pirates.

Piracy is ebbing off Somalia this year, according to a report to the council by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which attributed the Somali success to “actions by naval forces both at sea and ashore to disrupt pirate operations,”and, “better application of self-protection measures and situational awareness by merchant ships,” among other things.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said countries fighting piracy need better co-ordination and information-sharing, and he called for stronger prosecution of apprehended pirates. He also called for an international agreement on rules for posting private armed security guards on merchant ships.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the council that no ship carrying armed guards has been successfully attacked by pirates. But posting armed guards on ships is controversial. Russian and Italian military crews assigned to merchant ships have fired on and killed fishermen off Somalia, mistaking them for pirates approaching to board.

French Ambassador Gerard Araud stressed that private guards do not have the deterrent effect that government-posted marine and sailors and naval patrols have in warding off attacks. Araud also said that 80 per cent of captured pirates are released without prosecution, so a more robust system of trial and justice is required.

Source;- AP




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Abdullahi Mu'min is the Editor in Chief of and a Contributor to Wargelin Show. Mu'min is a Young and talented Somali Journalist.
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