What's In Blue

Posted Fri 14 Oct 2011

Somalia Piracy Resolution

It appears that the Council is now close to reaching agreement on a resolution calling for additional measures to strengthen prosecution of suspected pirates operating off the coast of Somalia. Council members have had several rounds of negotiations on a draft resolution that was circulated by Russia in September, with the latest meeting taking place this morning. While no action has been scheduled yet, it seems possible that the Council could adopt the resolution later this month after the briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe, scheduled for 27 October on the Secretary-General’s report on piracy which is due on 23 October before.

It seems that the draft resolution reinforces some of the messages of previous Council resolutions on the issue including demanding that Somalia adopt counter-piracy laws as soon as possible in order to ensure prosecution and imprisonment of pirates, urging states that have not already done so to criminalise piracy under their domestic laws and calling on all states to report to the Secretary-General on measures taken to ensure prosecution and imprisonment of pirates. It appears that it also emphasises the importance of international cooperation and information sharing.

In addition, it seems that in terms of follow-up action, the Council is likely to express its intention to continue its consideration of the establishment of specialised anti-piracy courts in Somalia and other states in the region and request the Secretary-General to report to the Council, after consulting with these states, on practical arrangements for the establishment of such courts.

While the UK is the lead country on Somalia in the Council, Russia has taken the lead on legal issues related to Somali piracy. It first took up the issue in April 2010 when it proposed a resolution (S/RES/1918) that asked the Secretary-General to prepare a report within three months on possible options (such as special domestic chambers, a regional tribunal or an international tribunal) for ensuring prosecution and incarceration of pirates captured off the coast of Somalia. Following the issuance of this report (S/2010/394) in July 2010, Russia has continued to push for further consideration of ways to strengthen prosecution of pirates.

The Council last discussed the issue on 21 June, when it considered a report from the Secretary-General (S/2011/360) on the modalities of establishing specialised Somali anti-piracy courts. (This was first recommended by Jack Lang, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on legal issues related to piracy off the coast of Somalia , in his January 2011 report to the Secretary-General .) At the June meeting Council members had different views on the way forward. While France and Russia seemed to favour the creation of specialised Somali piracy courts, the UK and the US expressed reservations about such an option.

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