Ban Ki-moon backs IMO call to extend anti-piracy mandate

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Anti piracy measures in the Gulf of Aden this week received a boost with the news that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is backing calls for an extension of the UN Security Mandate enabling navies to enter Somali waters to confront piracy attacks.

Mr Ban has declared his support for the move and plans to convey it to the Security Council, together with an endorsement of the concerns expressed by a wealth of international shipping and seafaring organisations which have called for strong action to tackle the escalating piracy problem in the region.

United Nations Security Council resolution 1816 (2008) enables states co-operating with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to enter the country’s territorial waters and use all necessary means in order to repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, consistent with relevant international law. That mandate is due to expire on 1 December 2008 (six months after its adoption on 2 June 2008) but the IMO has called for it to be extended.

IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos wrote to Mr Ban with this proposal and now Mr Ban has confirmed his support. In a letter to Mr Mitropoulos, he said he remains “seriously concerned” about the dangers posed by piracy in the Gulf of Aden and was “acutely aware” of its impact on the ability of the United Nations to deliver humanitarian assistance to Somalia. He also said he was encouraged by the Security Council’s adoption, on 7 October 2008, of resolution 1838 (2008) on this issue.

Mr Ban added, “We must do more and act quickly to fight this terrible scourge.”