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19 November 2012 – Security Council – Piracy/Somalia – Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

I would like to thank the Indian presidency for having organized this debate and for the draft presidential statement. My thanks also go to the Deputy Secretary-General for his briefing. It is important to remember that the scourge of piracy affects the entire international community. It threatens the stability of entire regions, disrupts trade networks and feeds other trafficking activities. Piracy must therefore be dealt with as a whole. As the Secretary-General has urged, we must also work to aid victims, in particular the seafarers who have been kidnapped and held hostage, in some cases for several years.

Since 2008, France has taken action to mobilize the international community and the Security Council to combat the threat of piracy off the coast of Somalia. The European Union has played a pivotal role in that respect, in particular via Operation Atalanta. Those efforts have borne fruit. Since the beginning of the year, the number of attacks has declined significantly, while the success rate has declined even further.

Even if the scale has tipped slightly in our favour, the situation will remain precarious, as long as no noticeable change occurs in the security, political and economic situations. Pirates continue to adapt themselves, improve their operations, seek new targets for their operations and often go unpunished owing to a perennial lack of jurisdiction.

The positive gains must therefore be strengthened. Developments in Somalia, including the conclusion of the transitional period, the election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the appointment of the new Government provide such an opportunity. I believe that there are three essential avenues to follow in order to definitively resolve the scourge of piracy off the coast of Somali.

First, a presence at sea has a deterrent role that remains crucial and must be continued.

The protection of vulnerable vessels by private security forces cannot be considered to replace naval operations, as the presence of such forces alone is incapable of facing the threat. In that context, States and organizations must continue to mobilize so as to implement the authorizations of actions at sea provided for in the resolutions of the Council.

Secondly, combating the impunity of pirates impunity must be a priority. Eighty per cent of pirate suspects who have been captured continue to go free, which affects the effectiveness and credibility of the operations at sea. Despite the fact that 20 States, of which France is one, have started legal proceedings, the burden of action at this stage falls on the countries in the region. In that respect, particular tribute must be paid to Seychelles for its strenuous efforts in that context.

A judicial response will have little deterrent effect as long as Somalia and its regional bodies are not in a position to prosecute their nationals. Developments under way in Somalia will open new ways forward aimed at enabling durable control of the crisis. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has said that establishing a new judicial system will be one of the pillars of his policy in Somalia. The adoption of a legal framework to criminalize piracy, as requested by successive resolutions of the Council and the outcome communiqué of the September mini-summit on Somalia (see SG/2187), will represent an essential step.

We must also strengthen our efforts against the backers who are at the heart of the piracy activities, as my Russian colleague mentioned.

To that end, international cooperation will play a key role. The International Criminal Police Organization also plays a pivotal role, which must be encouraged.

The adoption of individual sanctions pursuant to resolution 1844 (2008), targeted against those backing the pirates, would also contritube to those efforts and enable the gathering of intelligence to be used by States in undertaking legal proceedings. It would also send a strong signal about the Council’s determination to continue its actions against piracy. Thirdly, bolstering the maritime and judicial capacities of the States of the region is of fundamental importance in consolidating the gains achieved.

In that context, the launching of the European Union mission EUCAP NESTOR in July, for an initial two-year period, marked a turning point. It is aimed at providing States with capacities to ensure the security of their shipping lanes, through advisory and training assistance aimed at coast guard and maritime administration staff, as well as the establishment of a coastal police for Somalia. France is playing an active role in that regard.

In relation to the Gulf of Guinea, the adoption of resolutions 2018 (2011) and 2039 (2012) signalled the mobilization of both the Security Council and the international community in that effort.

France is playing its full role in that connection, particularly through its implementation, in mid-2011, of a regional support programme aimed at training in the area of maritime security.

We encourage the States of the region and the relevant regional organizations, in particular the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States, to strengthen their involvement. In that respect, France supports the initiative to organize a regional conference in 2013 on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea with a view to following up on resolutions 2018 (2011) and 2039 (2012).

Learn more on Somalia and on transnational threats to international peace and security.

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