On the occasion of the 4th Counter Piracy Conference in the U.A.E., H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, made the following comments: "Countering piracy has for long been a top priority for the U.A.E.. As a maritime nation, the U.A.E. has a strong interest in the security and openness of international sea lanes. This is why, every year, the U.A.E. hosts a major counter piracy conference that brings together all of the relevant counter piracy stakeholders from around the world. This year will see the fourth installment of this landmark event.
The period between 2009-2011 witnessed a sharp rise in the number of pirate attacks, especially in Gulf of Aden, Somalia Basin, and Indian Ocean. The attacks damaged major maritime shipping lanes and jeopardised the lives of seafarers and commercial ships worldwide. Countering the threat of maritime piracy demanded a coordinated regional and international response.
The results of that collective response are clear. Recent years have witnessed a steep decline in the number of pirate attacks around the coast of Somalia. While in 2011 Somali pirates attacked 236 ships, there have only been 15 such incidents throughout 2013. This year, the number of pirate attacks remain in the single digits. This remarkable success is testimony to the effectiveness of international counter-piracy cooperation in the Horn of Africa.
The U.A.E. has for long been a leading proponent of this regional and international cooperation and has sought to raise awareness about piracy in the Arab world. In the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), which unites 80 countries, international organisations, and the maritime industry in the fight against piracy, the U.A.E. co-chairs the Working Group on "Maritime Counter-Piracy and Mitigation Operations" with Japan and the Seychelles.
The U.A.E. also cooperates closely with its partners in Somalia and the Seychelles to build local capacity, tackle root causes of maritime piracy, and prosecute offenders. Our support of the Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecutions Intelligence Coordination Centre (RAPPICC) in the Seychelles is just one example of cooperation in this area. We have also done much to boost our own naval capacities and improve port security.
Despite these actions and the recent successes, there is no room for complacency. Although incidents of piracy have plummeted, other forms of crime on the high seas are on the rise. These include illegal fishing, human trafficking, the smuggling of arms and drugs, and armed robbery. The threats to regional security posed by these crimes amount to those of terrorist acts. And they are becoming difficult to control and contain. Furthermore, while piracy attacks have declined in our waters, they have been on the rise elsewhere.
This is hardly a surprise. In Somalia, root causes of piracy remain in place – a lack of economic opportunities, weak state institutions unable to exert their monopoly on the use of force, and the absence of the rule of law and effective governance. These same factors are also driving piracy in West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea. Even more worryingly, they fuel the growth of land-based terrorist organisations and criminal networks that interlink with and fuel maritime crime.
This suggests that the international community needs to do two things to find a sustainable solution to the scourge of piracy. First, it needs to sustain the recent momentum at sea. This requires extending the mandate of international operations in the Horn of Africa, even as attacks decrease. Without these operations, piracy will quickly return to prey on shipping along our vital sea-lanes.
Second, to tackle root causes of piracy and other maritime crimes requires confronting instability on land. This demands sustained international efforts to build local law-enforcement capacities and provide effective governance and economic opportunities. It also requires taking the fight to land-based radical and criminal organisations such as Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab that are both drivers of instability, and partners and sponsors of maritime crime. We mean here that some of those piracy actions amount to the level of terrorist acts.
To take on this twin challenge of piracy and terrorism and explore the linkages between sea and land based instabilities, the U.A.E. is convening the Fourth International Counter-piracy Conference in Dubai on 29th-30th October under the theme, "Securing State Recovery: Sustaining Momentum at Sea, Confronting Instability on Land." A joint initiative by the U.A.E. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international ports operator DP World, the conference is being held as part of the wider 2014 U.A.E. Counter-piracy Week, running 27th-30th October. The European Union is holding separate meetings on counter-piracy at the start of the week.
This year, delegates will build on the successes of previous conferences, where we reached landmark deals that include breaking a two-decade impasse to bring key Somali leaders to the negotiating table. Indeed, thanks to the participation of high-level delegates, the conference has distinguished itself as an important annual forum for representatives from the shipping industry, government and academia to take action on issues affecting global maritime security. This year, the U.A.E., along with our regional and international partners, hope to take the discussions further by addressing piracy’s root causes in developing countries.
Inevitably, this struggle will continue. Taking the war against piracy to land will be even more challenging and complex than driving pirates out of our waters. But to secure our maritime commons, there is simply no alternative." End.