Yury Fedotov

Director-General/Executive Director

Briefing to Member States on Somali Piracy

Vienna, 12 April 2011


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank Mr. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, for joining me today to brief you on Somali Piracy.

As many of you are aware, at a March meeting of the Secretary-General's Policy Committee, UNODC and DPA were appointed co-chairs of a UN system-wide Task Force that will work toward mainstreaming a coherent and coordinated response to drugs and crime. I look forward to sharing the plan for this Task Force with you in the near future.

But now I invite Mr. Pascoe to discuss the scope of the piracy problem and the UN response.  Following his remarks, I will report on UNODC's counter-piracy work.

[ following Mr. Pascoe's statement:]

Thank you, Mr. Pascoe, for this thorough overview, and for DPA's ongoing leadership of counter-piracy efforts within the UN system.

UNODC is deeply committed to these efforts as part of the international community's response to maritime piracy.  I am proud of the results of our support for regional piracy prosecutions, most notably in Kenya and the Seychelles. Of the about 1,000 pirates and piracy suspects now detained in 18 States, 600 are held in States where UNODC is supporting the judiciary with piracy prosecutions. And one important point: although our efforts are designed to tackle piracy, they are also intended to have a broader and sustained impact on the institutions of criminal justice in the region.

But we must acknowledge that the nature of maritime piracy is evolving.  As I saw for myself on my recent mission to East Africa, piracy is no longer   loose bands of young men in fishing boats but a highly sophisticated form of transnational organized crime. Pirates are professionalizing. They have access to maritime intelligence and money laundering channels. And their attacks are becoming more violent. We also know that piracy has links to terrorism.

In response to these worrisome developments, UNODC is reviewing our strategic approach to piracy. Our primary task now is to define the role and practical involvement of UNODC in the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1976, unanimously adopted last night.

We are ready to assist Member States investigate and prosecute pirates, and we will continue to do so. At the same time, all those who plan, organize, finance and unlawfully profit from acts maritime piracy must also be brought to justice. And Resolution 1976 emphasizes this very clearly.

I do fully realize the complexity of this task. It requires coordinated efforts of many Member States, their law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and relevant international organizations. UNODC, with its mandate and experience in dealing with transnational organized crime, stands ready to join in and support this process.

We are already working closely with a subset of the Contact Group on Piracy to begin tracing the money flows. This is a key priority that will be launched at a UNODC-led conference in Nairobi in May.

While doing so, UNODC will continue to build on our counter-piracy successes in the region of East Africa, and also reassess those areas where there is still work to be done.

For example, Puntland is not an easy case, and any efforts there must include a strong component of international oversight. While I fully recognize that this will be challenging, UNODC is working on ways to engage with the Puntland authorities.

UNODC is already working to build the capacity of Somali institutions to tackle piracy. We are undertaking comprehensive legislative reform jointly with the authorities of Somaliland, Puntland and the Transitional Federal Government. We have just completed a comprehensive assessment of the criminal justice sector in Somaliland, and the authorities there are receptive to working with us to build capacity and reform the legal system.

UNODC is also deeply committed to the Counter-Piracy Trust Fund, and we are grateful for the support that Member States have provided to the Trust Fund. With grants from the Trust Fund, UNODC was able to complete construction of Hargeisa Prison in Somaliland, which incarcerates convicted pirates. It is the first new prison to open in Somalia in 30 years. And I commend the Piracy Trust Fund Board for having approved today at their meeting in Vienna another $ 1.6 million for UNODC activities in Puntland.

As the Trust Fund administrator, UNODC is currently preparing the Fund's first Annual Report, which will be ready in a few weeks. It is clear that the Trust Fund has already had significant achievements, and we will be pleased to share its Annual Report with you.

The Counter-Piracy Trust Fund is an excellent model of international cooperation and coordinated action. But to continue its important work, the Trust Fund needs sustainable and predictable financing. UNODC and DPA jointly call on Member States to continue to support the Trust Fund as a tool for building viable, land-based solutions to the piracy problem.

We also urge you to encourage private-sector industries to contribute to the Trust Fund, and also to attend the conference in Dubai, which will focus on public-private partnerships against piracy.

Thank you for your continuing support for our counter-piracy efforts. We now invite your questions and comments.