What's In Blue

Posted Tue 3 Dec 2019

Somalia Anti-Piracy Resolution

Tomorrow (4 December), the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution renewing the authorisation for Somalia anti-piracy measures, which expire on 6 December. As penholder, the US drafted the resolution, which renews the measures with no major changes.

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 8 November (S/2019/867). The report describes two significant piracy incidents since 1 October 2018.

First, on 16 October 2018, there was an attempt to board a bulk carrier approximately 340 nautical miles east of Mogadishu, which was repelled by warning shots from the armed security personnel on board.

Second, on 21 April 2019, two fishing vessels were attacked 280 nautical miles off the central coast of Somalia. The attack was repelled following an exchange of fire between the suspected pirates and armed security personnel on board. Prior to the attack, the suspected pirates had allegedly seized a Yemeni fishing vessel off the central coast of Somalia, with 26 crew members on board. On 23 April 2019, an EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) vessel seized the Yemeni fishing vessel and released the crew members. It apprehended the five suspected pirates for prosecution.

The Secretary-General has concluded that the absence of successful piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia demonstrates the effectiveness of the current mitigation measures applied by Somalia and the international community, including the Security Council and those acting under its authorisation.

The draft in blue renews for 12 months the authorisation for states and regional organisations cooperating with Somalia to enter into Somali territorial waters and use all necessary means for the purpose of repressing acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea. It also renews the authorisation for such actors cooperating with Somalia to take these measures for the same purpose in Somali territory (on land), pursuant to the request of Somalia, while stressing that such measures are consistent with applicable international humanitarian and human rights law. Somalia had requested that these measures be renewed in a letter to the Security Council on 22 November.

The initial draft circulated by the US omitted language found in the current authorisation in resolution 2442 calling on all States to criminalise piracy under their domestic law and to favourably consider the prosecution of suspected pirates apprehended off the coast of Somalia, and the imprisonment of those convicted. This language was reinserted in the text at the request of Russia, however. Resolution 2442 also decided to keep these matters under review, including, as appropriate, to consider the establishment of specialised anti-piracy courts in Somalia with substantial international participation as set forth in resolution 2015 of 24 October 2011. Russia, which has been a proponent of such courts, called for this language to be reinserted, a request that was also accommodated.

Resolution 2015 asked the Secretary-General for a report on how specialised anti-piracy courts could be established in Somalia and nearby states to ensure prosecution of suspected pirates. The subsequent report [S/2012/50] of 20 January 2012 found that the national authorities of concerned states were reluctant to contemplate a new specialised piracy court, and there has been no follow-up action by the Council since then.

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