End piracy at sea now - Icopas

2011-10-19 22:43

Stockholm - The international community should act now and "not 20 years from now" to end the spiralling problem of piracy at sea, especially off Somalia, an international conference said on Wednesday.

In a draft declaration, the three-day International Conference on Piracy at Sea (Icopas) described the the humanitarian and economic costs of piracy as "unacceptable".

"Political will, effort [and] co-ordination are needed to address the root causes and to deter and defeat piracy," said the declaration, calling on the United Nations to create a "Maritime Enforcement Mandate" within Somalia's economic zone to protect Somali and international interests.

"The reality is that a few hundred [people]... are being held against their will in Somalia and a few other parts of the world," said conference chair Maximo Mejia of the World Maritime University

"Something needs to be done about the situation today, not 20 years from now, not 30 years from now," he added, speaking at the close of the three-day conference in the southern town of Malmoe.

This year there have been a record 352 pirate attacks worldwide, according to a report this week by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

Somali pirates, who have created an industry based on hijackings and ransom payments in the strategic waters next to their lawless homeland, accounted for 199 of the attacks, up from 126 during the same period last year, according to the report.

"People in the maritime] industry have been stretched to their limit of patience," Mejia said.

The 410 conference participants from around the world "were not optimistic but still hopeful" that the international community and national governments would do more to end the "scourge", he said.

Big fat can of worms

Among their many recommendations, the participants called on the international community to develop "innovative international tools to overcome the constraints of national boundaries and jurisdiction in dealing with piracy".

They also demanded that national governments "honour their obligations to successfully prosecute and punish pirates".

"There is a whole laundry list of things that need to be done," Mejia said, adding though that perhaps the most important focus should be on putting "Somalia back on its feet".

"You can only eradicate piracy if you get at its roots. What is piracy but a manifestation of the problems they are experiencing on land?"

"If you had pirates here, you'd have police and the navy to combat the threat, but there, there is no navy, there is no police, there is no government. It's a big fat can of worms," he pointed out.

The conference addressed a number of contentious issues, Mejia said, mentioning the use of privately contracted security personnel to help ward off pirate attacks and especially how to handle the fact that many if not most of the pirates who are caught were under the age of 18.

"It is becoming more and more apparent. It's really the rule rather than the exception [that the pirates are under 18] and that has international legal implications.... You can't really prosecute these people as pirates, but more as juvenile offenders," he said.

Read more on:    imb  |  benin  |  somalia  |  pirates

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Quiz: Test your Rio Olympics memory!

Think you know what went on at the Rio Olympics? Prove it by tackling Sport24's ridiculously impossible yet highly addictive post-Games quiz!


Rio Olympics

GALLERY: SA's Rio Olympic medallists
As it happened: Rio Olympics - Day 17
Selecting 6 numbers turned Britain into Olympic superpower
Caster cranks up the heat in Rio semi

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.