The ICS paper has been submitted to the International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (which was established in response to a United Nations Security Council Resolution) and by all accounts the ICS paper has been well received by governments.
Despite this, it remains the case that the pirates are active and retain the capacity to attack far into the Indian Ocean. ICS therefore continues to emphasise that it is premature to conclude that the crisis is over, with seafarers still held hostage in Somalia, some of whom have now been in captivity for three years.
This included getting the initial attention of governments and making them appreciate the scale of the crisis that was making a vast and strategically vital area of the Indian Ocean, including major trade lanes, a virtual ‘no go’ area to merchant shipping.
The ICS paper also highlights the importance of clarifying the rights and obligations of sovereign nations to address piracy (which were complicated by the breakdown of Somalia as a functioning State) and of the need to engage with military authorities and to persuade them that the prevention of piracy/hostage taking has a most important strategic and humanitarian function that should not be dismissed as mere ‘low level’ law enforcement.
“It was particularly important to foster an understanding that protection against pirate attacks was a shared responsibility in which both the military and the industry have to play their parts,” said Peter Hinchliffe.
Developing and disseminating appropriate and acceptable Best Management Practice (BMP) recommendations on preventative measures to be taken by shipping companies, ships and crews;
Maintaining constant pressure on shipping companies and ships to sustain BMP compliance at the highest possible level;
Responding to the legal and practical challenges associated with the capture and prosecution of piracy suspects;
Responding to the legal and practical challenges created by the employment of private armed guards;
Responding to the humanitarian challenge of thousands of seafarers left traumatised by the experience of being held hostage for several months (years in some cases) prior to release;
Addressing the legal and moral dilemma created by the necessity for shipping companies and their insurers to make ransom payments;
Addressing the challenges of promoting capacity building ashore and the reconstruction of civil society; and
Seeking to address the crisis in an appropriate but proportionate manner that recognised it was likely to continue for several years while avoiding a situation in which the threat presented by pirates was regarded as ‘normal’ or that some of the necessarily extreme measures adopted, such as the use of armed guards, did not become institutionalised.