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U.N. Security Council Explores Ending Somalia Anti-Piracy Resolution

UN explores ending resolutions on Somalia piracy
U.N. Security Council reauthorized anti-piracy efforts for only three months off Somalia (Jason R Zalasky/US Navy file photo)

Published Dec 10, 2021 4:42 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.N. Security Council appears to be preparing to officially bring to a close the more than a decade’s long mission for international naval forces fighting piracy off the Somali Coast in East Africa. The Council voted last week to only reauthorize the mission for three months, while cautioning that proper mechanisms needed to be in place to ensure that there would not be a resurgence in activity.

Recognizing the steady decline in attacks and hijackings since 2011 and saying although piracy off the coast of Somalia has been “repressed,” Security Council members however said that the ongoing threat of resurgence remains. The U.N. adopted its first resolution to fight Somali piracy nearly 15 years ago, with the European Union, U.S., and other naval forces launching their coordinated efforts in the region in December 2008. The Security Council has continued to reauthorize the mission annually despite the decline in activities. In debating the new resolution, the Security Council acknowledged that “there has been no successful hijackings for ransom reported since March 2017” commending the broad naval coalition and efforts of the African Union for their counter-piracy activities. 

Somali representatives speaking before the Security Council also highlighted the success of the efforts saying that they believed the time had come to end the U.N. efforts and restore sovereignty to their waters. The Associated Press reported that Somalia’s U.N. Ambassador Abukar Dahir Osman told the council, “We believe that the Security Council resolutions on piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia have successfully achieved its intended objective.”

Permanent members of the Security Council, however, spoke out regarding the dangers and saying that the mission remains a critical deterrent. The United States, which sponsored this year’s resolution, objected to efforts to end the resolution while France spoke of the potential “security vacuum,” saying it believed three months did not provide sufficient time to ensure a long-term structure to maintain stability in the region. 

After negotiations between Somalia, the United States, and other council members, the resolution authorized for a further three-month period states and regional organizations cooperating with Somali authorities, to fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off Somalia. The council called upon all states to “take appropriate actions…to prevent the illicit financing of acts of piracy and the laundering of its proceeds…[and] to criminalize piracy under their domestic law.”

The ambassadors said that investigations and prosecutions must continue for all who “plan, organize, illicitly finance or profit from pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia,” while also calling on Somalia to bring to justice those using Somali territory to launch the attacks. Among the efforts that the Security Council called for from Somalis is to put in place mechanisms to safely return effects seized by pirates and to patrol the coastal waters to prevent and suppress future acts of armed robbery at sea.

The Security Council said it expects to continue the discussions with Somalia and will also be looking for further resolution with the African Union to ensure that the long-term structure is in place for the stability of the region. Somalia, for its part, is proposing bilateral agreements starting in 2022 to replace the broader U.N. Security Council resolutions.