What's In Blue

Posted Tue 8 Nov 2016

Council to Reauthorise Somalia Anti-Piracy Measures

Tomorrow afternoon (9 November), the Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution reauthorising Somalia anti-piracy measures, which expire the following day. As penholder, the US drafted the resolution, which renews the measures with no major changes. Following one round of negotiations, a second draft with minor changes was distributed, passed through silence, and is now in blue.

The report of the Secretary-General on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia was published on 7 October. In the report, the Secretary-General welcomed the significant progress made by Somalia and the international community in fighting piracy, and noted in particular the milestones achieved in deterring attacks against large commercial vessels. He noted with appreciation ongoing efforts to revise the Somali Maritime Code and to establish a maritime administration department, as well as a ministry of ports and marine transport. However, the Secretary-General expressed concern over continuing attacks against smaller vessels and the resilience of the criminal networks behind piracy. The report addresses at length the deleterious effects of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Somali waters and stresses that the imperative to better understand and combat IUU fishing is of immediate importance. In this regard, the Secretary-General commends the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Secure Fisheries programme for their efforts to address the issue.

On 24 October, Somalia sent a letter to the Council requesting the renewal of the authorities outlined in resolution 2246 concerning securing international and territorial waters off the coast of Somalia for the safe conduct of shipping and navigation. Noting the Secretary-General’s report and the complex linkages between piracy and IUU fishing, Somalia asked member states and international organisations to support its efforts to address IUU in Somalia’s exclusive economic zone.

Council members met once, on 4 November, to negotiate the US-drafted piracy resolution. The agreed draft maintains much of the language from last year’s text, resolution 2246, while making some updates reflecting developments in the past year. Preambular language from 2246 concerning involvement of children in piracy off the coast of Somalia, reported sexual exploitation of women and children in areas controlled by pirates, and their reported coercion to participate in activities that support piracy, was removed owing to an improvement in the situation. This improvement is referenced in the Secretary-General’s report, and further reflected in the fact that UNICEF and other agencies do not have reports of children involved in piracy this year.

There was some negotiation on how to calibrate the language on IUU fishing and its impact. The draft in blue contains new preambular language noting Somalia’s accession to the FAO’s Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, and recognising the projects supported by FAO and UNODC aimed at enhancing the Somalia’s capacity to combat such activities. Preambular language was also added this year “noting that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing accounts for millions of dollars in lost revenue for Somalia each year and recognizing that…[this]…can be a driver for piracy and can spur public anger, discontent, and destabilization among coastal communities in Somalia”.
However, it appears that some Council members, including China and Russia objected to the addition of a new operative paragraph acknowledging the complex linkage between piracy and IUU fishing, and requesting the Secretary-General to include further examination of this subject in future reporting. As a compromise, this paragraph was omitted from the draft that cleared silence. Furthermore, the call for states and international organisations to support the FGS in addressing IUU fishing, previously in the operative paragraphs in the initial draft, was moved to the preamble, along with the qualification “at [Somalia’s] request”.

Council members are also meeting this afternoon for a briefing by the Chair of the 751/1907 Somalia and Eritrea Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño (Venezuela). Council members are currently negotiating a resolution on Somalia and Eritrea sanctions that will address the partial lifting of the arms embargo, authorisation for maritime interdiction of illicit arms imports and charcoal exports, and the humanitarian exemption, all of which expire on 15 November.

Sign up for What's In Blue emails