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Piracy off the Coast of Somalia

(New York, January 25, 2011)

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Néstor Osorio Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations 



Mr. President,

I would like to thank Mr. Jack Lang, Special Adviser on Legal Issues Related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia for its report. We are concerned about the situation described, and in particular the increase of incidents, the sophistication of the attacks and the lengthier detention periods for the hostages taken.

Piracy is one of the consequences of the institutional fragility and the precarious economic conditions. It is urgent to adopt a new approach, which includes the strengthening of the rule of law and the creation of strong institutions conducive to social and economical development and to ensure good governance in Somalia. That is the reason why we welcome the components referred to by Mr. Lang economic, security, judicial and correctional.

Mr. President,

The only long-term solution to the problem of piracy is the restoration of the stability and peace in Somalia. Consequently, an effective international strategy requires coordinated and coherent use of available resources, but also to build on existing capacities.

The assistance given by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in coordination with the Contact Group, continues to be of great importance. A lasting commitment to assistance and training aimed at strengthening legal, criminal and penitentiary systems, and the supply of logistic infrastructure and information technology could encourage more countries in the region to contribute to the prosecution and imprisonment of pirates as Kenya and the Seychelles have done.

The critical situation and the limited capacity of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to intercept pirates and prosecute them, to patrol and provide security in the waters off its coast requires a concrete measure to facilitate the prosecution and imprisonment of pirates in accordance with applicable international law. The impunity described by Mr. Lang is regrettable.

The disruption of arms trafficking through the Gulf of Aden and targeted sanctions against the most important leaders and those who protect them would significantly contribute to international efforts against piracy. The Monitoring Group on Somalia notes that, although the amount of arms transfers remain constant and small in scale, in the context of armed conflict, the absence of effective authority and a serious humanitarian crisis its effects are devastating. The group asserts that the resurgence on piracy is due, in part, to a weak implementation of the arms embargo.

According to Resolution 1844, sanctions should be extended to those who obstruct the provision, access and distribution of humanitarian assistance in Somalia.

Colombia stresses the primacy of the judiciary and correctional component in an international strategy to combat piracy. We insist that the TFG has the primary responsibility for combating piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia. In this regard, we welcome the proposal to focus on reforming the criminal and procedural legal framework to include provisions that allow piracy investigations and prosecutions in that country.

Piracy has become one of the most lucrative activities in Somalia and its leaders are using part of the resources to improve their arsenals and have more efficient and effective operations. While we seek to eliminate the impunity enjoyed by criminals, it is necessary to develop economic alternatives for people. The objective is for the Somali population to perceive this crime as opposing their economical and social development opportunities. The report recommends that labor intensive activities such as fishing, port activities and livestock exports should be promoted. In the long-term, such investments are less costly for the international community and would produce lasting results while avoiding further population dependency on the criminal industry developed around piracy.

Mr. President,

We are convinced that the United Nations should lead the international response to this growing problem and that, a stable and lasting solution requires a comprehensive approach towards stabilization and strengthening of the State in Somalia. Mr. Lang's urgent call for action deserves all our consideration.

Thank you, Mr. President.


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Statement 2011