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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNMENTS ON CRIMINAL ACTS OF PIRACY IN THE GULF OF ADEN

The undersigned call upon all governments, individually, and collectively through the United Nations, to do everything in their power to counter the state of lawlessness and to restore safety of navigation in the Gulf of Aden. 

 

Contributions already made in response to UN Security Council resolutions 1816 and 1838 are welcomed but the undersigned note with considerable concern that UN SCR 1816 is end dated 2 December 2008.  The considerable support being voiced in the European Union and in NATO is also welcomed but coordinated international action is the only mechanism likely to bring any lasting relief to this troubled and lawless area.

 

These waters are strategically important for world trade; safe and unhindered passage of innocent merchant ships is essential if the needs of the nations and peoples of the world are to be safeguarded.  The freedom to navigate safely on the high seas is an abiding principle of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the situation that pertains today is one of the most serious challenges to this principle to have arisen in recent years.

 

At the human level, the current appalling situation is intolerable for seafarers under duress whilst held hostage and for those running the gauntlet of increasingly violent attacks in this dangerous region.  UNCLOS places an obligation on its signatories to do everything in their power to preserve the High Seas for innocent use. 

 

It is our view that immediate and decisive action is required to strike at the very heart of the armed and organised gangs that appear to be operating in the region almost with impunity.  The practical and legal difficulties facing the crews of the few warships currently deployed into the area are understood only too well and it is for this reason that the following actions are identified as essential short term steps toward a lasting solution.

 

1.         Governments are urged to commit sufficient numbers of warships, military aircraft and surveillance assets to the region and to coordinate their command and control under the auspices of a United Nations mandate,

 

2.         The existing UN Security Council resolutions 1816 and 1838 must be enhanced with a further resolution with more explicit text on action required against the criminal gangs and with a timeframe adequate to reaching a final solution,

 

3.         Of equal importance is the need to establish a legal jurisdiction to bring arrested criminals to justice and subsequent punishment.  In this regard States are particularly urged to review and amend national legislation to include such due process, noting their obligations under the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, 1988 (SUA Convention).

  

We request that these actions and any others that may be appropriate be given the most urgent priority.  Any further delay is bound to fuel a descent into ever deeper lawlessness.

 

S M Polemis

Chairman, International Chamber of Shipping

President, International Shipping Federation

 

P Embiricos

President, BIMCO

 

N Pappadakis

Chairman, Intercargo

 

N Fistes

Chairman, Intertanko

 

O Stene

President, InterManager

 

D Cockcroft

International Transport Workers’ Federation