Security Council: Statement by Ambassador Wittig on Piracy

Nov 19, 2012

(Security Council: Statement as delivered by Ambassador Wittig in an Open Debate on Piracy)

"Mr. President, let me join previous speakers in thanking the Indian presidency for organizing this open debate and Deputy Secretary- General Eliasson for his very insightful briefing.

Today, I would like to make three points: First on the lessons we’ve learned in dealing with piracy in different regions and the approach that follows from this, second on the role of the different actors in counter-piracy activities and third on the prosecution of convicted pirates.

At the outset, I would like to align myself with the statement to be made by the European Union later on that will provide an overview over the activities of the EU in combating piracy. Germany actively participates in these efforts.

On my first point: As others, we welcome the substantial progress made in the fight against piracy reflected by the sharp decline in the hijacking of vessels especially off the coast of Somalia and the lower number of hostages currently held in Somali waters. This is certainly a success of the international naval forces patrolling jointly the waters off Somalia and better self-protection by the industry. Nevertheless, piracy continues to pose a serious threat since seafarers and vessels are still being held hostage and piracy attacks in other regions, particularly the Gulf of Guinea, have been on the rise.

We are convinced that in the long term, the fight against piracy can only be won on land - through addressing the factors facilitating piracy in an integrated and strategic manner. Such a strategy needs to combine elements for building functioning states following the rule of law, functioning law enforcement structures as well as social and economic circumstances that provide for the livelihoods of the people on the ground. It is obvious that the international community is called to continue its support in this regard.

Mr. President, on my second point, the role of the division of labour: It is primarily the responsibility of the concerned states to prevent criminals from launching attacks on vessels off their coasts. It is therefore important that these states build the necessary police forces and coast guards with international support as needed.

Further, we welcome joint political and military efforts undertaken by the international community to secure the waters off the concerned states. We also welcome the efforts by regional actors to define and implement regional policies and strategies  in the fight against the scourge of piracy in Africa.

In this regard, we commend the initiatives taken by the states in the Gulf of Guinea region aiming at fostering cooeration aiming at enhancing maritime safety. We encourage the international community to support these efforts.

Concerning Somalia, the activities of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and the Trust Fund supporting its initiatives are the most useful contribution in this regard. We have therefore decided male a new contribution of 2 million US$ to the Trust Fund. We call on member states but especially on the shipping industry to contribute to the Trust Fund that finances critical projects in various sectors of counter-piracy, ranging from prosecution and detention efforts to projects dedicated to hostages.

The private sector, Mr. President, also has a role to play when it comes to the prevention of hijackings. The use of Best Management Practices launched by the International Maritime Organization and developed by the shipping industry were crucial for the decrease in successful attacks. We should therefore reiterate our call on ship-owners and ship owners’ associations to further engage in the promotion and implementation of the Best Management Practices.

My third and last point concerns the prosecution of convicted pirates. The effective prosecution and imprisonment of those responsible for piracy and armed robbery has made progress but remains a challenge. It is the primary responsibility of the states concerned to prosecute, sentence and imprison pirates operating from their shores. As pointed out again by the most recent Secretary General’s report, the Somali judicial system and its prisons still face a number of challenges. Capacities must be enlarged, conditions further improved. Germany commends and actively supports all initiatives in this respect, especially those of UNODC and UNDP.

In concluding, let me stress again that modern piracy remains a considerable challenge. In the past years, however, the international community has achieved a lot with regard to the fight against piracy. It must continue to coordinate, to jointly operate and to support regional efforts that tackle the root causes and effects of piracy.

I thank you, Mr. President !"

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