Counter-piracy conference commits to build on gains
The 3rd public-private international counter-piracy conference ended in Dubai on a determined note with more than 750 government and industry leaders pledging their continued support for sustainable capacity building that would lead to meaningful, long term solutions to eradicate maritime piracy.
For the third consecutive year, high-level representatives, including the President of Somalia, the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), more than 20 foreign and other government ministers, more than 150 top executives of global maritime-sector companies, senior government and military officials from around 50 countries, the United Nations, NGOs, and leading academic experts participated in the conference.
The two-day forum was jointly convened by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, global ports operator DP World and Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC).
This unique cooperation underlined the UAE’s continued support for public and private sector coordination in the fight against maritime piracy.
The conference was opened by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, with the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud giving the keynote address. Other government speakers at the conference included senior ministers of Saudi-Arabia, Morocco, Yemen, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Mozambique, the Philippines, the Seychelles, and the Comoros, alongside a number of Ministers from European countries.
All speakers reaffirmed the need to step up public-private partnership – at sea and on land – as the only sustainable way of ensuring a multi-faceted approach that takes into account the political and socio-economic circumstances that encourage piracy.
The conference dealt extensively on the human cost of piracy including a strong call to draw the international community’s attention to the on-going grave humanitarian situation impacting the seafarers still held in captivity in Somalia and their families, and calling on the international community, with the help of the regional and federal Somali governments, to do everything in their power to release these men and return them to their families.
The plight of the reported 57 seafarers still held hostage by Somali pirates was highlighted by a panel discussion on the opening day in which former hostage Captain Jawaid Saleem Khan and his family talked movingly about their 21-month-long ordeal and the family’s efforts to have him released. 11 of the Captain's crew are still held nearly three years after their capture, and four crew members are missing.
The first day of the conference concluded with an open plenary session on "Measuring Success in Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia: A Review of Best Practices", which included naval, government and industry panellists discussing on and off shore efforts to counter piracy in the short and long term.
The participants warned that pirates would be back if navies ceased patrols and if vessels relaxed their best management practices in security. This would further push up the cost of piracy to the global economy, variously estimated at between US$6 billion to US$18 billion in 2012.
The second day’s working sessions covered a range of issues, including security and onshore capacity building, humanitarian assistance in Somalia, and lessons learned for shipping companies, port operators, and mariners.
Highlighted was creating a climate of stability in Somalia through infrastructure development, building government institutions, transparency on use of funds, and clarity on where funds were most needed, improved security on the ground, and the need to continue humanitarian aid in Somalia.