Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UNSC open debate on piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea

Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UNSC open debate on piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea

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Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the open debate of the Security Council on the Peace Consolidation in West Africa: piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea

Mr. President

Ukraine welcomes the fact that the piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea is considered by the Security Council after a while and we hope that today’s meeting will provide an additional impetus to effective eradication of this problem.

The subject of our discussion has a multifaceted nature and it deserves our full attention considering its social and economic implications, as well as legal complexities coupled with safety and security impacts.

There is no doubt that the maritime piracy poses a threat to the international peace and security in West Africa. Thus addressing this problem by the Security Council constitutes an integral part of a comprehensive, cohesive and broad-based approach taken by the United Nations in dealing with this challenge.

Mr. President

While fully aligning with the statement of the European Union, to be delivered later today, I would like to make the following points on the subject.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, West African waters are ones of the most spots in the world affected by piracy and armed robbery at sea.

Even if the recent official statistical data point to decreasing numbers of attacks in the area, this problem should not be underestimated, in particular taking into account the fact that, given the information of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, ship-owners tend to withhold reports on such accidents due to the risk of increase of insurance premiums on their policies.

It is critical to differentiate between the forms this threat takes in East and West coasts of the African continent to elaborate credible mechanisms to curb this phenomenon. Unlike in the Gulf of Aden, tactics of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea have evolved from attacking vessels on the high seas to relocating their activities to internal and territorial waters.

Under these circumstances international naval forces face legal limitation to respond to such pirates’ attacks. At the same time coastal states’ authorities are oftentimes unable or unwilling to effectively prosecute those responsible for these egregious acts.

It is in this unsettling context that over a decade, pirates in the Gulf of Guinea have turned into well-armed and sophisticated criminal gangs with floating bases for their attacks.

Moreover, there are close ties between piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea with other perils threatening the region. The current situation of virtually uncontrolled crossings of maritime borders can be exploited by terrorist groups as demonstrated by recent terrorist attacks in the West Africa region.

The Gulf of Guinea piracy is above all an international problem, which requires a coherent national approach of each West African country.

Mr. President

We strongly believe that only consolidated efforts may put an end to piracy.

In this regard, Ukraine calls upon the UN Member States to ensure full compliance with the Security Council resolutions and other documents related to the implementation of regional strategies for ensuring maritime security.

Assistance to countries in the region in implementing an integrated strategy for maritime security based on existing regional mechanisms for combating piracy and armed robbery at sea should also be strongly promoted by both the Security Council and the competent UN bodies and agencies.

As all coastal states of the Gulf of Guinea are members of the International Maritime Organization, we see particular value in further fulfilment by the IMO of its Strategy for implementing sustainable maritime security measures in West and Central Africa.

We also consider it necessary to expand the scope of international assistance programs to strengthen the capacity of countries in the region to ensure maritime security, improve infrastructure and carry out that effective joint actions to monitor the situation and to conduct joint patrols at sea.

This requires an improved coordination between the UN, regional countries, regional and sub-regional organizations such as the African Union, ECOWAS, and the Gulf of Guinea Commission in combating piracy and armed robbery at sea.

Mr. President

The piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has a direct bearing for Ukraine.

In 2015, pirates abducted two Ukrainian citizens and demanded ransom for their release. Just month ago, on March 26, 2016 pirates again captured two citizens of Ukraine — the captain and assistant captain of the vessel “Sampatiki”. Unfortunately, the negotiations with pirates on their release are still under way and they continue to suffer in captivity.

In the light of the piracy outbreak, the issue of crew protection in shipping industry and post-accident treatment for piracy survivors continues to be a matter of our most serious concern.

In order to mitigate the impact of modern piracy, it is important that governments, ship-owners, insurers and all other stakeholders in maritime business treat seafarers as their true and genuine social partners. It requires a fresh look from those setting the rules into the problems related to the post-conflict rehabilitation, compensation for moral damage and material loses, as well as recovery of physical and mental strength and health. In many cases seafarers released from the piracy’s captivity remain on their own with their problems. Solution depends on different factors such as the quality of seafarers’ employment agreements, modalities of justice when it comes to protecting the rights of labourers, accessibility and quality of medical and social assistance.

In this regard, Ukraine would like to call upon the UN Member States to expedite the universalization of the amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention of 2006, approved by the International Labour Conference in 2014. Proper implementation of this instrument will allow for further elaboration of possible solutions for seafarers and fishers who are victims of pirates.

We also consider that the primary responsibility of the Flag States for ensuring the effective implementation and enforcement of international instruments related to maritime security and safety, in particular the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, as well as for bringing those guilty of acts of piracy and armed robbery of ships to account should be further strengthened.

Mr. President,

When a person responsible for acts of piracy or armed robbery at sea enjoys impunity, anti-piracy efforts of the international community will be undermined.

Ensuring prosecution and incarceration of pirates captured must remain a priority if we are truly committed to eradicate this evil.

Effective international mechanisms for bringing perpetrators to justice, and enhanced national criminal prosecution procedures are needed.

In this regard, Ukraine would like to recall its initiative dating back to 2010, which was circulated as a document A/65/489 of the General Assembly under agenda item 74 “Oceans and the law of the sea”, namely the “Draft of comprehensive convention on the suppression of acts of piracy at sea”.

We invite all Member States to look afresh at this proposal in the light of our debate.

Mr. President,

Combating piracy and armed robbery at sea by military means is an effective but not the only tool in fighting against this scourge.

Developing a comprehensive strategy of appropriate assistance to the countries of the region to eliminate the root causes of maritime crimes in Western Africa such as poverty, high unemployment, lack of rule of law, poor law enforcement, lack of the capabilities to effectively govern the territorial waters and promote economic development, could make a substantial contribution to the global efforts to solve the problem of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea.

All relevant UN bodies must be actively involved in shaping a comprehensive approach to address the issues of piracy. In our view, the division of tasks could be the following: the social and economic aspects of piracy could be addressed by the General Assembly, while the security and military ones — by the Security Council, making therefore the full use of tools available to the UN.

Thank you for your attention.