The commitment of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia through boosting capacity building in the region has been underlined with the signing of five strategic partnerships with a number of UN agencies and the EU, following a Conference on Capacity Building to Counter Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, held at IMO Headquarters in London on 15 May 2012.
The Conference was attended by some 300 delegates from States as well as a number of organizations. It saw presentations on capacity building as a mechanism to tackle the piracy issue, focusing on matters such as building maritime infrastructure and law enforcement capacity and the implementation of the Code of Conduct for the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Western Indian Ocean (Djibouti Code of Conduct), which had been the subject of a Ministerial meeting held at IMO on 14 May, also at IMO.
The Ministerial meeting was attended by Ministers, Ambassadors and senior officials of the States participating in the Djibouti Code of Conduct, as well as representatives of the donor States to the Djibouti Code of Conduct Trust Fund. South Africa, which also attended the meeting, signed the Djibouti Code of Conduct during the Conference on Capacity Building (see Briefing 14/2012), becoming the 19th State to sign the Code.
The Ministerial meeting agreed that the Djibouti Code should not be open to other States, should continue to be a non-binding Code, however, the meeting agreed to review the status of the Code in the coming two years. The meeting noted that the implementation of the Code would also enhance capabilities and capacities to counter such threats.
The meeting also noted that IMO had agreed to be part of the combined UN efforts on the ground in Somalia, based on the Somalia Roadmap and the Transitional Federal Government National Security and Stabilization Plan.
The meeting also noted an initiative to focus the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct in terms of maritime awareness and operational capability in the southern high-risk area, including the Mozambique Channel. The details of the initiative, including liaison with African organizations such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC), were still to be worked out. The “protection of the southern shipping lanes” initiative in the high-risk area is aimed at combining counter-piracy and maritime capacity-building projects within one single overarching apparatus, to deliver a programme for the development and protection of the maritime domain in the south-west Indian Ocean. The aim is that the signatory States to the Djibouti Code of Conduct will work together, supported by IMO and other development partners, to create a regional co-operative mechanism to this effect.
Strategic partnerships were signed on 15 May with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS); the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); and the World Food Programme (WFP). A further agreement with the European Union, acting through the European External Action Service (EEAS) was signed on Wednesday 16 May.
The joint commitments to combat piracy in the Western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden Area reaffirm the mutual commitments to improving coordination at all levels and across all relevant programmes and activities, with a view to strengthening the anti-piracy and maritime capacity of States in the Western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden area and developing viable and sustainable alternatives to piracy in Somalia .
The Organizations have pledged to work together to deliver effective assistance to those States under the framework of existing institutional arrangements as well as under new joint enterprises. Projects may be undertaken multilaterally or in conjunction with other international organizations. In signing the partnership agreements, the Organizations stated their determination to make every effort to act in a coordinated and complementary manner in pursuit of common goals, with the aim of ensuring that their investments under the strategic partnerships make an effective and long-lasting contribution to capacity building in the region.
IMO and the other international Organizations have already been working with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and the authorities of the Galmudug, Puntland, Somaliland regions of Somalia through the “Kampala Process” to promote an integrated approach to the development of a safe and secure maritime sector in Somalia.
Specific projects are anticipated to be initiated or continued under the newly-signed partnerships. Each Organization will complement IMO’s competence in maritime situational awareness, and maritime security and counter-piracy measures.