The Republic of Mauritius, as Chair of the Indian Ocean Commission, is honoured to take over the chairmanship of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS). In our globalised world, the Eastern and Southern African and Indian Ocean States as well as States outside our region have been directly or indirectly impacted by the scourge of piracy.
Thus, following the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1851 of 18 December 2008, a concerted approach was adopted to contain this problem. It has been instrumental in curbing the acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia.
Together with the international community, we have reacted promptly with a view to safeguarding our coastal economies from inevitable crashes. However, we cannot boast to have addressed effectively future risks. The attack in the 2nd quarter of 2017, just after the publicly-announced end of NATO’s Operation OCEAN SHIELD, is a sufficient demonstration of a possible resurgence of piracy. While notable progress has been made to support the Federal Government of Somalia as well as the Federal States, there are miles ahead to eradicate the root causes of piracy.
Mauritius has remained an unflinching supporter in the fight against piracy. Recently 12 Somali pirates have been imprisoned and tried in Mauritius. We have under the aegis of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), and through the EU funded MASE (MAritime SEcurity) programme established a Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre in Madagascar and a Regional Centre for Operational Coordination (RCOC) in Seychelles. I am sure that these two centres would as per the Djibouti Code of Conduct consolidate further the regional information sharing network.
As Chair of the IOC, I am also convening a Ministerial Conference on Maritime Security in the first quarter of 2018. The focus of the Ministerial Conference will address all maritime security challenges, such as drugs, firearms and human trafficking, terrorism and extremism, safety and rescue at sea, natural disasters and, obviously, piracy. I do believe that this event would be an opportunity to all CGPCS Stakeholders to chart out a costed new orientation for the CGPCS.
I commend Ambassador Barry Faure, Secretary of State of the Republic of Seychelles, for having over the last two years geared successfully the CGPCS. His legacy to render the Indian Ocean region a safer region and to achieve our objective of zero seafarers and ships detained by pirates will no doubt be continued.
For the coming two years at the chairmanship of the CGPCS, I am inspired by the motto “United we stand divided we fall” attributed to Aesop in his fable “The Four Oxen and the Lion”. This demonstrates the necessity to collectively address the issue of piracy. Individual action is bound to fail. As I said at the CGPCS meeting in Balaclava earlier this year: “Piracy, like other crimes, threats and marine risks, knows no borders, that is, why cooperation is essential to ensure maritime safety and peaceful development of the entire region”. We shall spare no effort to lobby for a permanent status for the CGPCS and to extend and deepen its mandate and powers for a sustainable growth of our economies.
In doing so, we will be in line with the 2030 UN Agenda that calls for strong partnerships to pave the way for an authentic sustainable development. As Chair of the IOC I shall also ensure that the CGPCS participate fully in the implementation of the AU Integrated Maritime Strategy of 2050.
I look forward to meeting you in New York for the 21st plenary session of the CGPCS so that we continue to strive to bring stability in the region for the benefit of all.
H.E S. Lutchmeenaraidoo
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade of the Republic of Mauritius
Chairman of the CGPCS 2018-2019