UAE government releases draft anti-piracy document

19 April 2011

Document highlights ways to counter piracy off coast of Somalia

The UAE government has released a draft document that highlights ways to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia.

The UAE Foreign Affairs Ministry drew up the document during a counter-piracy conference in Dubai. The document calls on the Somali federal and regional authorities to cooperate in establishing an internal joint coordination body that will combat piracy and enable the legal prosecution of pirates.

“The international community must pursue a comprehensive strategy of support to Somalia, which prioritises assisting the authorities…Galmudug, Puntland and Somaliland, in improving land-based security capacity and establishing a system of governance and rule of law, notably through equipping and training the coast guard and building up the judiciary sectors,” says the document.

However, the document also notes that long-term eradication of piracy in the Gulf of Aden will not be possible without a long-term solution to counter state failure, instability and other underlying causes of piracy in Somalia.

The final declaration document is expected to be announced by 20 April. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, UAE foreign minister says that “maritime piracy represents one of the greatest challenges we face today.”

The international community is also expected to contribute money to a UN Trust Fund that seeks to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia.

The UAE government and UAE-based maritime companies will contribute $1.4m towards the fund. Dubai-based port operator DP World has pledged to contribute $100,000 towards the fund. It will also contribute a further $400,000 towards supporting the port community livelihood and security initiatives that aims to secure African ports and their communities from piracy.

“There is a need for an urgent response to the global threat of piracy in this region,” says Mohammed Abulahi Omar Asharq, foreign minister of the transitional federal government of Somalia.

Asharq also says that the current vacuum of power in Somalia is one of the root causes of piracy along its coastline.

In the region, there are currently 1,500 pirates that threaten one million square kilometres of ocean. About 17 naval ships from around the world patrol the area between the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, providing safe passage for 50,000 cargo ships each year. Pirates received between $75m and $80m in ransom payments in 2010.

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