Important International Consensus to Combat Piracy

  • 18 December 2008

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a new resolution last Thursday, which approved the implementation of anti-piracy actions in Somalia for one year. This is the fourth resolution of its kind, which the Security Council has adopted to fight the menace that has been escalating over time. In the three earlier resolutions, the Security Council delineated the necessary measures for confronting piracy. However, international measures were hampered as international forces were not authorized to move inland into Somalia, and some countries were hesitant about launching ground attacks on the strongholds of pirates. These problems led to an apparent failure in deterring the pirates. The recent resolution has sought to remove these obstacles, and has allowed the concerned countries to enter Somalia's airspace to take out those pirates that are using Somalia as a base for their operations.

The resolution is considered important for many reasons, the first being that it is part of serious and sustained efforts in taking decisive action against a problem that has started to seriously trouble the international community. It is now understood that coordinated international action against piracy instigated from Somali shores has become necessary, as efforts by individual countries in hunting down the pirates have proved inadequate. There were clear differences in the positions of various parties on tackling the issue until recently, with each party conducting its own, uncoordinated actions. The second point about this new resolution is that it provides the necessary means for taking on the pirates, who plan and launch their criminal acts from Somali territories, despite strong objections in some quarters on the matter of sovereignty of countries over prospective international intervention on Somalia's territorial waters and on its land. The third noteworthy point about this resolution is that it reflects the concern of the international community about the threat posed by these pirates to international trade because their criminal activities have hiked insurance costs, and forced naval forces to protect ships or guide them to alternative routes far away from the Gulf of Eden. Many reports point to the danger of leaving this problem not addressed and warn of the menace spreading to other areas that would only increase the burden on the international community in eliminating the threats.

Undoubtedly, this resolution that is backed by international consensus represents an important step in addressing the menace of piracy that has added a new threat to the set of dangers it is trying to confront. Figures released by International Maritime Organization show that acts of piracy or attempted piracy have risen to 199 from January and September of this year, of which as many as 63 criminal acts took place in the Gulf of Eden (opposite Somali shorelines). Therefore, it is important to quickly overcome the obstacles that have obstructed the combined efforts to fight piracy. This has become an urgent concern in the wake of an international consensus regarding the necessity of eliminating piracy.