Statement by Ambassador Wittig on Piracy in the Security Council

Jan 25, 2011

(check against delivery)

Mr. President,


·        I would also like to thank Special Adviser Jack Lang for his excellent briefing and report on legal issues linked to piracy off the coast of Somalia. We commend the report for its high level of detail and its systematic and comprehensive approach. This report is a most thorough analysis of the legal issues connected with piracy.


·        Germany is very concerned about the persistent and indeed growing threat of piracy and armed robbery off Somalia and in the region. The Security Council needs to address this threat to peace and security in a comprehensive way.


·        In recent months, pirates have increased their level of violence as well as extended their range of operation. Piracy is a serious crime. It has detrimental effects on the security and safety of international navigation and commerce. It also threatens urgently needed humanitarian aid to Somalia. The destructive effects of piracy ultimately jeopardize our common efforts to stabilize Somalia. The overall cost of piracy is immense -- to the international community, to the states in the region, but first and foremost to the people of Somalia.


·        The Security Council and the international community have shown unity and resolve in tackling the problem of piracy. But we do indeed have to step up our efforts.


·        The European Union is substantially engaged in the fight against piracy. It has deployed its first naval operation - EUNAVFOR ATALANTA - off the coast of Somalia. Germany has been participating in this operation from the very start and will continue to do so. Many other partners are committed. Kenya and the Republic of Seychelles have assumed responsibility by trying and imprisoning pirates. Mauritius will, it is hoped, soon follow suit. We would like to thank these countries for their important contributions and encourage them to continue their commitments. We hope that more partners will join in these efforts.


Mr. President,

·        The Special Adviser’s report proposes the strengthening of existing measures and the introduction of new ones. All of his proposals deserve our close attention.


·        Military and judicial action are indispensable in the short term. But both only deal with symptoms. We will have to address the factors facilitating piracy and look at the situation on shore in Somalia. The international community must continue to support the Somali people in their efforts to re-establish peace, security and development in their country. We need economic opportunities and state actors that prevent and prosecute piracy ashore. These are tasks for police, coast guard and law enforcement authorities that need to be set up and strengthened in Somalia.

·        The effective prosecution and imprisonment of those responsible for piracy and armed robbery has been advanced, but remains a huge challenge. The legal framework is set out in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which reflects customary international law giving all states the right to prosecute pirates. All states should create the legal conditions that enable them to effectively prosecute pirates.

·        We concur with the report's goal that it must ultimately be in Somalia that pirates are tried and imprisoned. To reach that goal, we have to support the establishment of adequate structures in Somalia.

·        The activities of the Contact Group on Piracy off Somalia and, in particular, the Trust Fund supporting its initiatives, are a very useful contribution in this regard. A number of projects for the law enforcement sector in Somalia were funded by the Trust Fund. Germany has been among the first contributors to this effort and we invite others, including the shipping industry, to participate and commit funds.


Mr. President,

·        Setting up an extraterritorial Somali court in a third country in the region, with the perspective of transferring it to Somalia, could be an essential part of a solution. It could constitute an important element of support to a nascent Somali legal and judicial system, with active international support and the recruitment of qualified lawyers, for instance, from the Somali diaspora. It would combine Somali, regional and international efforts in a truly joint endeavour. We should further explore this proposal.

Mr. President,

·        We have to acknowledge that the Somali judicial system and its prisons still face a number of challenges, as pointed out by the Secretary General in his most recent report on Somalia. The system must be improved in order for it to meet international standards and respect international human rights and other applicable rules of international law. Germany commends and actively supports all activities in this respect, especially those of UNODC and UNDP, so that a transfer of convicted pirates to prisons in Somalia can be envisaged.


·        In the meantime, broader and stronger regional efforts and international support for them are required. States in the region are most affected by the scourge of piracy. Increased cooperation among them with regard to trial and detention and transfer arrangements would considerably strengthen the fight against piracy. It would also be of benefit to their judicial systems in the fight against crime in general.


Mr. President,

·        We are looking forward to continued cooperation with partners in the Security Council and in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to address piracy in Somalia and the factors contributing to it.


·        In conclusion, I should like to once again thank the Special Adviser for his impressive report. He has rightly pointed out the urgency of the matter. The Security Council should take up the many thoughts and issues he has raised and discuss them in the near future, as part of the Council's larger strategy on Somalia.


Thank you, Mr. President.

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