“The collaboration of the contact group has improved the protection of shipping and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia. Even if the number of attacks on ships has increased lately, the pirates rate of success is much smaller. But big and fundamental challenges remain,” says State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Gry Larsen.
In the last year the contact group has developed recommendations for ships’ conduct outside Somalia, which nearly three out of four ships follow. The military presence, including contributions from Norway, has had a preventative effect, especially in the Gulf of Aden. China today confirmed it has decided to take part in the military coordination effort. The contact group has also agreed to strengthen the ability of countries in the region to legally prosecute pirates. Importantly, the meeting formally established a trust fund to support legal and other relevant capacity building measures in the region, with approximately USD 2 million having already been pledged.
The work of the contact group takes place in four working groups that focus on regional capacity building and military coordination, legal prosecution of pirates, preventative measures for the shipping industry and communication.
The plenary meeting in New York is led by senior advisor in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carl P. Salicath, who’s the contact group’s current chairman. The Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry also takes part, in close cooperation with Norway’s shipping industry.
About 130 delegates from many countries and organisations will attend, including representatives from the UN, EU, NATO, China, India, the United States and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as well as representatives for Somalia.
”Somalia is a country in deep crisis and the solutions to the fundamental problems there lie in creating peace and economic development on land. This will reduce the recruitment to the kind of criminal activity that the pirates represent. The measures against piracy must be seen in the context of the wider international effort for positive development in Somalia in which Norway will continue to play an active role,” says State Secretary Gry Larsen.