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Last updated at 17:40 (UK time) 19 Nov 2012

"The UK remains strongly committed to the fight against piracy"

19 November 2012

Statement by Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Permanent Representative of the UK Mission to the UN, to the Security Council Open Debate on Maintenance of International Peace and Security – Piracy
UN Photo/John McIlwaine

Thank you Mr President,

Like others, I welcome the Indian initiative to convene this open debate on combating piracy and I thank the Deputy Secretary-General for convening his briefing this morning.  

The Security Council is central to the international community’s response to piracy off the coast of Somalia. Multi-national, multi-agency naval operations, the use of Best Management Practice, vessel protection detachments and privately contracted armed personnel all have had an impact in reducing the number of hijackings and attacks in the High Risk Area off the coast of Somalia.

But despite the significant reduction in the number of successful hijackings in the last year, the threat of piracy remains serious.  And we cannot be complacent.

This Council also follows developments in other parts of the world with growing concern, particularly for the growing violence seen in attacks off West Africa in the Gulf of Guinea and the rise in attacks in South East Asia.

Innocent seafarers are still being held hostage in unacceptable conditions or subjected to ever more violent acts of armed robbery at sea.

Mr President,

The United Kingdom remains strongly committed to the fight against piracy.  We believe that it is vital to break the piracy business model.  The key to achieving this is a comprehensive approach that tackles piracy directly at sea and its root causes on land is key.

Poverty, a lack of security and no job opportunities or prospects create an environment where some believe that crime pays.  We must show these individuals that criminal activity does not pay and will not go unpunished.

We therefore strongly support efforts to bolster investigation, prosecution and penal capacity in regional states.  Capacity should be built in a way that does not prevent facilities and expertise being used in other areas of law enforcement.

Both the reward and the funding of the piracy business model lie in ransom payments. Recognising this, my Prime Minister established the International Piracy Ransoms Task Force at the London Conference, with “the ultimate ambition of stopping all ransom payments.”

Task Force members reached a clear consensus on a number of substantive, practical steps towards the long term ambition of stopping pirate ransom payments. The conclusions will be presented to the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia Plenary next month.

We have heard how Interpol is leading international efforts to track ransom money to different parts of the world.

It is vital that the beneficiaries of ransom payments are brought to justice.

Developing regional maritime capacity to allow littoral nations to manage their own waters is essential.

In West Africa for example, the United Kingdom is supporting the industry led initiative to develop a Maritime Trade Information Sharing Centre and we welcome the kind offer from Ghana to host this centre.  The centre will provide important real time information, advice and warnings for commercial shipping travelling in West Africa, whilst allowing regional states to work in partnership to develop a better understanding of their own and their region’s maritime domain.  

In Somalia, the United Kingdom is implementing a multi-million pound development programme focused on institution building, creating jobs and opportunities, developing health care and providing humanitarian assistance.

Across the Indian Ocean, we continue to support States in developing prosecution and penal capacity as well as maritime capabilities.

Mr President,

Piracy is organised crime.  It thrives in places where the rule of law is weak or has broken down.  It is therefore vital that we, the international community, tackle these drivers on land and in an integrated way.  We are starting to see results; so now is not the time to be complacent and step back but to forge ahead with ambitious capacity building and development programmes.

Thank you Mr President.  

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