Mitropoulos tells UN that co-operation is key to beating piracy


Multilateral co-operation, with coordinated patrols in high-risk areas, information sharing, intelligence exchange and hot pursuit following attacks can provide the means of reducing pirate attacks, the secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization has told the UN General Assembly in New York.

Efthimios Mitropoulos said the global character of piracy and the “imperative” of combating it made it essential that states continued to establish effective co-operative mechanisms.

The informal meeting comprised three panels with speakers including ministerial-level officials from Somalia and other governments, UN representatives, regional and seafarers’ organisations, and the commander of the European Union’s ongoing naval operation ‘Atalanta’.

Mr Mitropoulos, moderator and presenter of the third panel said Asian nations, with IMO support, had co-operated to combat piracy and armed robbery in the straits of Malacca and Singapore. He believed a similar approach off Somalia, the Gulf of Aden and the wider Indian Ocean would reap dividends.

He also drew attention to the IMO’s role in drawing up the Djibouti Code of Conduct, formally adopted in January 2009, under which regional systems and infrastructure for information sharing, training, maritime situational awareness and legislative improvements were being established.

“We expect that the systems and infrastructure we are putting in place will help to reduce substantially the operation of pirates in the region, just as they did in the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, where the experience gained is now serving as a template for the signatories to the Djibouti Code,” Mr Mitropoulos said.

The meeting also discussed issues including jurisdiction over the crime of piracy, the problems of custody and prosecution of pirates, the means of strengthening mutual legal assistance between member states in investigating piracy acts, the welfare and protection of victims of piracy including seafarers and ways of enhancing the effectiveness of national criminal justice systems aimed at bringing pirates to justice.