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Fight against maritime piracy

Publié le April 3, 2008
France and the US cooperate on UN Security Council Resolution 1816.

Statement by M. Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs
Paris, June 3, 2008

We welcome the Security Council’s unanimous adoption yesterday of UNSCR 1816 on the fight against piracy.

This resolution, initiated by France and the United States and sponsored by 14 other countries, reflects the international community’s mobilization on this issue, particularly off the Somali coast.

It authorizes, in agreement with the Somali authorities, inter alia:
- in cases of flagrante delicto, a right of hot pursuit from the high seas into Somalia’s territorial waters, which the law of the sea did not allow until now;

- the possibility of operating in Somalia’s territorial waters using all necessary means, in accordance with the law of the sea.

The resolution recognizes the global nature of piracy and under it the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization will be able to brief the Security Council, with the agreement of the coastal States concerned, on the situation of other regions suffering from piracy./.

Statement by Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Chargé d’Affaires A.I. for the French Mission at the United Nations
_New York, June 2, 2008

France is pleased that the resolution was unanimously adopted. This is the first Security Council resolution on piracy.

As you will remember, president Sarkozy wanted the Security Council to strengthen the international response to maritime piracy, especially in the area off the coast of Somalia.

In 2007 alone, there were 263 acts of piracy reported, of which over 30 took place in that area.

France took a concrete initiative earlier on-Operation Alcyon- which helped World Food Program vessels to deliver the food aid they were carrying to Somalia. That initiative has since been followed by other countries.

Today we’ve adopted a strong resolution, under chapter 7. It establishes an effective mechanism to crack down on piracy off the coast of Somalia in full respect of international law and States’ sovereignty. Everything will be done with the Somali Transitional Federal Government.

Beyond the case of Somalia, the resolution provides for a briefing of the Security Council by the Secretary general of IMO on the broader issue of piracy.

It’s a good text, strong and effective. It marks the international community’s commitment to fight piracy It is an important step forward

Interview with BBC Afrique of Jean-Pierre Lacroix
_New York, June 2, 2008

Fifteen votes in favour of resolution 1816 : what are the key elements that made this resolution relevant in the framework of fight against piracy on Somalia coasts ?

First of all, it is the first resolution of the Security council on piracy ; second, it has been adopted as you said by unanimity. So we are very pleased of that result, particularly since France is one of the countries that originated this draft, and you will remember that President Sarkozy requested that the Security council be seized with the issue of piracy.

Now it is a resolution that focuses on Somalia, and it has very concrete provisions that allow a State, with the agreement of the transitional government of Somalia, to enter Somalia’s territorial sea, in order to deter or to repress acts of piracy. There is an element in the resolution that opens up to the broader issue of piracy : the Security council requests a briefing by the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization on facts of piracy in the world. Acts would be reported by coastal States affected, so there is this opening to the broader issue of piracy, but the operational measures are centred on Somalia and it is very significant, not only because it is the first time that Security council acts on such an issue but also because the importance and significance of the phenomenon of piracy on the coasts of Somalia is of such magnitude that it has indeed impaired maritime traffic, it has led to many attacks - we have been as France victim of such attacks, many other countries as well - so it is a very important resolution, and now we have to implement it.

Talking about key elements : the resolution states that States can use their military vessels to enter the seas to chase those pirates, right ?

Yes, the resolution says that, with the agreement of the government of Somalia, States can enter Somalia’s territorial sea to essentially chase pirates or prevent acts of piracy. But I would like to stress one thing, which is that it is a resolution based on the respect of full sovereignty and that is why the resolution says explicitly that it has to be with the consent of the government of Somalia. And it is also a resolution that respects fully the international law of the sea. There is no re-writing of that international law, there is no new provision : it is respectful of the framework of the international law of the sea.

So, basically, if any French ship, for instance, has been attacked in that kind of region, now France has the tool, the legal too to take, for instance, its military navy to enter and chase those pirates, that is basically what it means ?

Well, it means that all States that are willing to take action to repress piracy off the coast of Somalia can do so, provided that they have the agreement of the government of Somalia, also provided that they so notify the Secretary General of their intention. Of course that resolution applies to France, it applies to all member states of the UN. Now, like I said, this resolution has to be implemented.

Two more quick questions if I may : this resolution only applies for Somalia, not all other countries ?

The operational provisions regarding intervention in territorial sea are applicable to Somalia, so the operational provisions are centred on Somalia, but as I said, first of all it is the first resolution of the Council on the issue of piracy so, as such, it is an important element. Second element is that, as I said, this briefing that is requested from the Secretary General of the IMO and that could provide, if the Security council so wishes, for a broad and immediate perspective. It is a more sensitive issue, as has been expressed by several member States of the Council. And we certainly do not intend to do anything that would be against the will of the affected State. At the same time, we think it is also important that the Security council be interested and active in the issue of piracy, because it is so disruptive and potentially so harmful to all of us.

Does this also applies for the world food program, all that humanitarian assistance and food that have to reach the region of Somalia : does this resolution also applies to that kind of situation ?

Well, there is a specific action undertaken regarding the World Food Program, and France initiated this action. Now it is being taken over by other States and we hope it will continue. I have to say that the Security Council has already expressed its support for this action on a previous resolution that was adopted on Somalia. I think the issue the Security council dealt with today and the issue of the protection of the World Food Program supplies are obviously related but the scope is not exactly the same and that is why the Security council adopted different resolutions./.

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