Maritime security has received increased attention since pirates from Somalia started threatening the lives and safety of seafarers and undermining world trade in 2007 and 2008. The recent fall in hijackings in the western Indian Ocean reflects the successful international cooperation in addressing this problem.
An important factor for this success story is the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate India on its current chairmanship of the Contact Group. The simple and non-bureaucratic way of organising work, and the way countries with very different resources and challenges have cooperated in the Contact Group, could provide a model for tackling other security problems in the future. The way we have shared burdens in our efforts to ensure that pirates are prosecuted is one aspect of this successful cooperation. We would like to commend the countries in the region that have stepped up to take their share. They have been excellent partners. Norway is co-financing the UN Prison Project in Puntland. We look forward to see the rapid completion of this project, which will mean that Somalia’s neighbours can transfer convicted pirates for imprisonment there. Norway will also deploy a frigate to the anti-pirate operation Ocean Shield for six months from the end of May.
Another key to success has been cooperation with the shipping industry and its implementation of the Best Management Practices.
We must continue our joint efforts, so that this particular brand of crime can be brought to an end. Our priority is to see that the rule of law is implemented throughout Somalia. We are now seeing a new beginning in the country, which we hope will be an important step towards the rule of law.
Parallel to that, the international efforts to arrest and prosecute the organisers of and investors in piracy must continue. We must also prevent the laundering of ransom money. Norway would like to take this opportunity to underline that it is morally and legally unacceptable to play with human lives in order to extort ransom payments the way pirates in Somalia do.
Although we can be pleased with our progress in combating piracy in the western Indian Ocean, we are concerned about the increased number of armed robberies and acts of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. Piracy also continues to be a problem in South East Asia. The international cooperation in South East Asia is functioning well, and Norway is engaged in this work. The regional cooperation in Western Africa still needs to mature. It is our hope that the countries in the region will give armed robbery and piracy the priority it deserves and that joint action will follow.