What is the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS)? 

The CGPCS is a governance mechanism that was created to better coordinate the response to piracy off the coast of Somalia. States, international organizations, NGO’s and the industry use this format to develop shared and coordinated responses to piracy. The CGPCS was created in 2009.

How does the CGPCS work?

The CGPCS works in two basic formats. In the bi-annual plenary all participants in the Contact Group come together to exchange views, deliberate policy options and agree on a common plan forward. The common vision and strategy is captured in a communique. The other basic formats are so-called Working Groups (WGs). These groups are more specialized and technical. They focus on a distinct issue area, such as legal questions or capacity building. WGs meet more frequently often in ad hoc meetings or in specialized sub-configurations. From 2009 the CGPCS had four WGs, focused on naval coordination (WG1), legal affairs (WG2), coordination with the industry (WG3), public diplomacy (WG4). In 2012 a fifth WG was added to deal with the broader networks of piracy and coordinate criminal investigators and prosecutors. Responding to the changing situation and the relative decline in piracy incidents, in 2014 the CGPCS launched an institutional reform. Since then the CGPCS has three WGs. The first focuses on capacity building, the second on coordination at sea, and the third is the former WG5. The CGPCS does not have a standing secretariat. Meetings are organized by the respective chairs of the plenary and the WGs. The CGPCS thrives on the commitment of the participants.

Who are the members of the CGPCS?

The CGPCS does not have formal membership. All actors who are committed to the fight against piracy and are invited by the chairs can participate. Over 60 states send representatives to the CGPCS. Representatives from navies, capacity-building organizations, and international organizations, such as the UN Office of Drugs and Crime participate.

Is the CGPCS sucessful? 

Since 2012 no piracy attack has been successful in the Western Indian Ocean. While there are still low scale attempts (1 or 2 per year), piracy is currently contained. Many factors play a role in explaining the decline of piracy, but without the coordinating role of the CGPCS this sucess would not have been possible.

Is the CGPCS unique?

The CGPCS is an attempt to coordinate a collective response of the international community to a pressing problem in a very unique way. The group combines ideas that academics have called “informal” or “experimental governance”. The approach of the group in the way it is centered on informality, inclusivity and multi-stakeholder representation is similar to other contact groups and an attempt to find innovative solutions outside formal international organizations. The experimental nature of the CGPCS is, however, unique. The CGPCS is a flexible, open ended mechanism that recurrently has tried out new means of coordination, developed new ideas and projects, and responds in its working procedures to the demands of the situation in Somalia and at sea.

Where can I learn more about the CGPCS and piracy off the coast of Somalia? 

This website provides a broad range of analytical reflections on the CGPCS and piracy. Participants share their experiences on the website and links to further resources on piracy are provided in the archive.

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