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Piracy off the coast of Somalia

Kenyan Navy just off the coast of the Somali port city of Kismayo. UN Photo/Stuart Price
Kenyan Navy just off the coast of the Somali port city of Kismayo. UN Photo/Stuart Price

The Department of Political Affairs contributes along with partner UN entities to the global fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia.

DPA is an active participant in the International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), the main international forum on countering piracy. The Department also manages a Trust Fund supporting a range of projects to strengthen the fight against piracy.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), a political mission managed by DPA, works to promote political stability and the rule of law inside Somalia, which are ultimately the key to stopping the lawlessness and criminality off its shores.

In his briefing to the Security Council in October 2014, DPA Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman cautioned that while reported piracy was at its lowest levels in recent years, "progress is fragile and reversible." He underscored the importance of Somali-led and Somali-owned State-building and inclusive governance to counter the scourge.

Ransom payments adding up to hundreds of millions of dollars have created a “pirate economy” in some areas of Somalia that jeopardizes efforts to develop alternative livelihoods. Economies throughout East Africa and beyond are experiencing the fallout. International trade routes are affected by the constant threat of maritime attacks.

Comprehensive approach against piracy

Piracy and armed robbery at sea require a coordinated response under the overarching legal framework provided by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. There is broad consensus in the international community that effectively countering the Somalia piracy problems requires a comprehensive approach focusing on deterrence, security, the rule of law and development.

The CGPCS was established on 14 January 2009 in line with Security Council resolution 1851 (2008) as a means of facilitating coordination among members of the international community. Today, over 60 nations and international organizations participate in the CGPCS, which meets regularly and reports on its progress to the Security Council.

The Department of Political Affairs is an active participant of the Contact Group, providing briefings by senior officials, staff support and technical expertise to its working groups, and facilitating dialogue among its members.

The Trust Fund to support initiatives countering piracy (PDF)In January 2010, the Contact Group established a Trust Fund to Support the Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. The objective of the Fund is to support prosecution of suspected pirates and detention-related activities, among other priorities. The Trust Fund can be replenished by both Member States and the private sector. DPA serves as the fund’s secretariat.

Other UN entities working in partnership with DPA to combat Somali piracy include the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs (OLA), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).


The Trust Fund to support initiatives countering piracy (PDF)