July 23, 2018
A press release summarises the results of the 21st CGPCS plenary from the perspective of the chairman. As the chairman Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo declares in the statement: “we cannot fight effectively nor permanently remove piracy, if we do not tackle all the crimes and threats that feed on piracy or are fuelled by piracy. That is why I suggested that we start thinking about the possible extension of the mandate of the Contact Group and that the outcomes be submitted to the next plenary session for debate.” Read the full press release.
July 15, 2018
The secretariat of the CGPCS has released the communique of the 21st plenary held in Nairobi. The communique provides a summary of the discussion in preparation of and during the plenary. As major items, the CGPCS endorsed the new version of Best Management Practices developed by the industry, adopted a communication strategy and initiated a reform process for the group. Read the full communique.
July 13, 2018
July 12, 2018
A day prior to the 21st plenary a range of preparatory meetings were held in the UN Offices in Nairobi. The UN Trust Fund board met to discuss the current funding situation and approve new projects. The Working Group Operations at Sea held a meeting under the chairmanship of India, Seychelles and UAE supported by Sri Lanka as the Secretariat. The meeting discussed the situation at sea as well as matters within the mandate brought to the attention of the chair. This included the relation of piracy to other maritime security issues, the regulatory framework for floating armouries, current developments in maritime situational awareness and information sharing, and the fifth version of the best management practices. Also a meeting on the CGPCS communication strategy was held.
July 1, 2018
The 21st plenary of the CGPCS will be held on the 12th and 13th of July in the UN facilities in Nairobi, Kenya. The plenary is preceded by meetings of the Working Group on Operations at Sea (WGOPS) , the Trust Fund Board as well as a particular meeting on the communications of the group. Major agenda items of the plenary include a discussion of the threat at sea as well as the institutional form of the CGPCS in the coming years.
April 23, 2018
On the 30th of April a CGPCS strategy meeting will be held in Mauritius. Following an introductory panel, there will be a discussion on the programs of the working groups as well as a panel on the future work plan of the overall CGPCS.
The meeting is held in the margins of a major ministerial conference organized by the Indian Ocean Commission. The “Ministerial Conference on Maritime Security and Safety” aims to give new impetus to concrete collaborations for the long-term security of the vast maritime areas of the ESA-OI region in full compliance with the Conventions and Strategies in force. Further information on the meeting is available here.
March 1, 2018
The Regional Capacity Building Coordination Working Group, also known as RCBWG is one of the two working groups of the CGPCS. It is mandated to coordinate the capacity building work of the international community in the Western Indian Ocean region and to ensure that overlap and duplication are avoided, and resources are invested efficiently.
The group, which is chaired by the Government of Kenya and the Indian Ocean Commission and supported by Oceans Beyond Piracy as Secretariat, meets 2-3 times per year, with one meeting usually held back to back with the plenary.
Coordinating capacity building is an intricate task, not only because of the sheer number of donors, providers, and implementers involved, but also because it is often unclear what capacity building work should include, how it should be done, and with which priorities.
The RCBWG held its first meeting of 2018 on the 1st of March in Nairobi. The meeting is held back to back with the Safeseas Symposium on Maritime Security Capacity Building. The symposium focusses on the strategic dimension of how to improve capacity building on the basis of a best practice toolkit launched at the event.
The RCBWG meeting focussed in particular on an exchange of the priorities and gaps that regional countries identify, and on the question of how the three major regional programmes (the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC), the Indian Ocean Regional Information Sharing System (IORIS) and the EU funded project MASE) can be better harmonised.
January 30, 2018
As part of the new communication strategy of the new CGPCS chairmenship, the CGPCS is now on twitter. Follow the CGPCS on twitter @CGPCS_platform.
The new secretariat can also be reached via email at: email@example.com.
December 29, 2017
The final newsletter of the 2017 CGPCS chairmanship, the Government of Seychelles, is available. The newsletter provides messages from the incoming and outgoing chairmen, an overview of the activities of the chair in the past months, as well as updates from core stakeholders. It is available here as well as in the archive.
December 28, 2017
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
December 22, 2017
With the 20th plenary the CGPCS has successfully consolidated its work and reconfirmed its position as the institution where global responses to piracy in the Western Indian Ocean are coordinated. The CGPCS continues to fill a major gap in the global maritime security architecture and provides a function that no other institution can. The piracy incidents occurring in 2017 have demonstrated why the CGPCS is still required and reconfirm why it must continue its vital work.
The revival of the Working Group on Operations at Sea tasked to evaluate the threats and risks to shipping was an important reaction to the current spike in piracy. It will be a priority for the incoming chairmanship to ensure that the working group meets as soon as possible and that it receives full support from those conducting threat and risk analyses, whether naval operations, the industry, non-governmental organisations such as Oceans Beyond Piracy, or academia.
One of the main functions of the CGPCS has been to ensure that information is shared between actors engaged in counter-piracy. Efficient communication between all actors is vital for coordination. But it is also important that the international community sends a strong and unified message to potential perpetrators. These are the two challenges that the future communication strategy of the CGPCS will need to address. They imply revising the website, newsletter and other internal communication tools, and identifying a mechanism to harmonise and coordinate the communication practices of actors like EUNAVFOR, FAO, UNODC and others. A strong message can be an important tool to deter Somalis from engaging in piracy.
Over the past four years the CGPCS has also become an important site where the relations between piracy and other maritime security issues are debated. While the mandate that the CGPCS has given itself remains focussed on piracy, it is common wisdom that maritime threats reinforce one another and that in particular, capacity building activities cannot focus on piracy alone, but must keep wider maritime insecurities on their radar. The 2017 Jeddah Amendments to the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) forcefully highlight these inter-connections, as do international capacity building projects whose scope extends significantly beyond piracy, such as the EU operations EUCAP Somalia and EU Crimario, or the UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme. The incoming chairmanship must continue to strengthen and promote the discussion concerning the inter-linkages between piracy and other sources of maritime insecurity. This does not imply changing the mandate of the group, whose strength has always been its narrow focus on piracy. Rather, it is to ensure the flow of information and the alignment of work between those actors exclusively addressing piracy and those focussed on broader maritime security issues.
The success of the two-year chairmanship of the Government of Seychelles has confirmed that regional actors can successfully master the work that this role entails. The decision taken at the 20th plenary that future chairs should come from the region and that the IOC will continue the work of Seychelles was a clear confirmation of that success. Continuing the regionalisation path, by ensuring that it is countries from the Western Indian Ocean that take ultimate responsibility for their regional waters, must form part of the future agenda. The new chair should advocate that regional countries remain active, or become more active. While regional countries must be in the lead, however, they do require support from the international community. It is important to emphasise that regionalisation cannot imply a withdrawal of international actors. Protecting trade and safeguarding freedom of navigation is, after all, a global task. This also implies the need for strong dialogue with the shipping industry.
Since its creation, one of the strengths of the CGPCS has been its flexibility and its ability to revise its working methods and configurations as the situation demands. While a working routine has been established over the years, it remains important to adapt and reform the CGPCS and its sub-groups as needs change and new needs arise. This implies working with the principle of subsidiarity and continuously asking what kind of body would best address a distinct coordination challenge. Transferring responsibility for the coordination of capacity building in Somalia to the Somali MSCC was an example of such a move. In a similar fashion, the incoming chair should raise the question of whether regional capacity building is better coordinated by another body, whether this is the DCoC, the MASE programme, or even the Indian Ocean Rim Association. Regional maritime security capacity building continues to suffer from duplication and overlap. In particular, work conducted within the frameworks of DCoC and MASE is not well coordinated, and bi-lateral and multi-lateral initiatives remain poorly aligned.
Maintaining the CGPCS as an informal, flexible and agile mechanism will also require an on-going strategic debate regarding the group’s long-term scenarios. The incoming chairmanship will need to prevent this debate from consuming the future working agenda, since it is only one challenge in a series of others. Yet, it remains important to ask which aspects of the work of the CGPCS can be transferred to other regional bodies, such as the DCoC, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, the Indian Ocean Maritime Crime Forum, or any newly created group for the Western Indian Ocean. It also means considering the position of the CGPCS within the global maritime security architecture. In the long run, will a contact group on global piracy be consistent with international needs, or is an international maritime security group for the Western Indian Ocean a better direction of travel?
Christian Bueger is Professor of International Relations at Cardiff University and Honorary Professor at the University of Seychelles. He is one of the principal investigators of the Lessons Learned Project of the CGPCS and editor of the www.lessonsfrompiracy.net website. Further information is available at http://bueger.info
December 8, 2017
The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) has succeeded the Republic of Seychelles as Chair of the CGPCS. Ambassador Barry Faure, Secretary of State and Chairman of the Contact Group, symbolically passed the baton to the IOC Presidency, represented by its Secretary General, at a handover ceremony held at Port Louis, Mauritius, 1 December.
The Indian Ocean Commission will begin its mandate for a two-year term, 1 January, 2018.
Ambassador Faure presented the results of the Seychellois presidency of the CGPCS. Satisfied with the work accomplished during his tenure, he said: “We have been able to set up more appropriate mechanisms to combat piracy, and the IOC’s take-over of the CGPCS is a natural continuation as this regional organization has always has been involved in the fight against piracy and other threats and risks at sea through its Seychelles-based anti-piracy unit, the MASE program and also by co-presiding since 2014, the CGPCS working group focused on the development of regional capacity”.
Mr. Faure added that “despite the advances made in the measures put in place to fight against piracy, recent events remind us of how important it is to remain vigilant and to continue the collective efforts to ensure safety on the heavily used maritime routes. eastern and southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.”
“Somali piracy is a reality and we, the small island states of the Indian Ocean, are the most vulnerable. The Republic of Seychelles was the first country in the Indian Ocean to assume the presidency since the establishment of the Contact Group on Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia. We wanted, during these two years of mandate, to lead by example and be proactive in coordinating exchanges and developing strategies to find innovative methods to effectively address this problem that goes beyond our region. We have worked extensively with the Indian Ocean Commission as part of the CGPCS and I am confident in its ability to meet expectations and most importantly to keep up the pace. The Republic of Seychelles has finished its mandate but will remain active in the collective fight against piracy,” said Faure. Read the entire speech here.
For IOC Secretary General Hamada Madi, who represented Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo, head of Mauritian diplomacy and President of the IOC Council, this new responsibility “will enable IOC to continue and expand the work of Seychelles in Chair of the CGPCS. We count on the effective involvement of all members of the Contact Group because we are bound by common interests. Securing the maritime routes of the Indian Ocean is a challenge that goes beyond the region. It’s especially a challenge that we can meet collectively,” he said during his speech during the award ceremony.
In addition, the European Union, IOC’s first partner in promoting maritime safety in the Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean (ESA-IO) region, has confirmed its support for the Indian Ocean Commission for this new mandate.
“The Maritime Safety Program (MASE) demonstrates our support and commitment to address issues related to maritime insecurity. The establishment of the two centers will help to better coordinate the exchange of information and act effectively “, stressed the Ambassador of the European Union, Mrs. Marjaana Sall.
November 27, 2017
Sir James Burnell-Nugent of Oceans Beyond Piracy and Mr. Raymond St. Ange, representing the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPSC) co-chaired a meeting of maritime experts to discuss the maritime piracy threat in the Gulf of Aden the Western Indian Ocean on the 20th of November in London. The core purpose of the meeting was to discuss the current situation at sea in the light of the threat assessments of CMF, EUNAVFOR and the shipping industry. At the meeting also core counter-piracy instruments were discussed as well as the state of capacity building. The meeting also highlighted the importance of convening the CGPCS Operations at Sea Working Group as soon as possible.
November 8, 2017
On November 7th the United Nations Security Council has renewed the mandate for counter-piracy in adopting Resolution 2383. The resolution reviews the state of piracy and concludes that further efforts are required to deter and prosecute piracy activity. The resolution also welcomes the work of the CGPCS in facilitating the prosecution of pirates, in coordinating the work of international and regional organizations and states, particularly in the field of capacity building. It also requests a further report from the UN Secretary General in 11 months, and that all states and organizations active in counter-piracy provide updates and information to the UNSG Office.
November 6, 2017
The CGPCS secretariat has published the October newsletter. The newsletter reports on the activities of the chairman as well as recent developments at sea and in capacity building. Highlights include a review of the current piracy situation, reports on several visits of the chairmen, as well as updates on the activities of capacity building missions such as CRIMARIO or EUCAP Somalia. Read the full newsletter here.
July 31, 2017
The chair of the CGPCS has released a new edition of the CGPCS newsletter. The newsletter provides a thank you note from the CGPCS chair concerning the 20th plenary, and insights into recent regional developments, such as the opening of the Regional Center for Operational Coordination in Seychelles. The newsletter is available here.
July 27, 2017
The Seychelles’ chair of the Contact Group on Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), Ambassador Barry Faure, has undertaken a goodwill mission to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia and the seat of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS).Ambassador Faure, who occupies the seat on behalf of the Republic of Seychelles, said upon his return from the July 23-24 mission that he was very satisfied with the outcome and the warm hospitality of the FGS which welcomed the visit and helped to plan it since the 20th CGPCS Plenary earlier this month in Mauritius.
“It was an opportunity for the CGPCS to reiterate its solidarity towards, and confidence in, the newly elected FGS, as well to take note of the noticeable progress that is already taking place in Mogadishu,” Ambassador Faure said.
High-level discussions took place with the Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, the deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Ahmed Guled, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Yusuf Garaad Omar, the Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources Abdirahman Mohamed Abdi Hashi, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs Abdulkadir Ahmedkheyr Abdi, and the Attorney General Ahmed Ali Dahir.
Discussions took place on regional and international efforts to promote maritime security cooperation and capacity building in Somalia and the larger region beyond Somalia, as well as the fight against piracy and IUU fishing. Following the discussions and in the interest of promoting regional and bilateral cooperation, senior Somali officials are expected to reciprocate the visit in the near future. The mission also met and interacted with various key international stakeholders assisting Somalia in its recovery, including the UN, the FAO, the EU and the AU.
During a call on the special representative to the chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, Ambassador Francisco Caetano Jose Madeira, the latter updated the mission on the current security situation in Somalia, noting that the FGS was a serious and responsible partner which needs the support of the international community in the short, medium and long term; but, more importantly, NOW, if the gains of the past decade and the efforts of the new regime are to be sustained.
The mission also comprised special advisor to the Designated Minister, Raymond St Ange (Head of the Secretariat of the CGPCS), Ahmed Hersi, the Regional Coordinator on Maritime Security for ESA-IO Region from the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), Commander Rajeev Kumar Singh and Fartum Mohamed Ibrahim, Maritime Security Advisor and Maritime Officer, respectively from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). UNSOM, IGAD and the Indian Ocean Commission played a much appreciated role in facilitating and coordinating the visit of the mission to Mogadishu.
Original Source: The Nation (Seychelles)
July 14, 2017
The outcomes of the 20th plenary of the CGPCS held in Mauritius are now available. The communique of the CGPCS summarises the main observations, decisions and next steps that were agreed at the three-day meeting. Please download the communique here. Major highlights of the plenary include:
- the ongoing high level commitment of the international community to combat and deter piracy and support Somalia and the states in the Western Indian Ocean region.
- It was decided to increase efforts to arrest and prosecute pirate leaders, financiers and facilitators.
- It was agreed to closely monitor the current situation at sea through threat and risk assessments.
- Also, the new future working configuration was agreed. Please find a summarised version of the CGPCS bodies her.
July 4, 2017
The CGPCS will hold its plenary from the 5th to the 7th of July in Mauritius. The 20th plenary will not only be important to discuss recent pirate activities, but also to determine the future shape of the counter-piracy infrastructure. The meeting will kick start with the working group meetings on Wednesday afternoon. Three meetings are scheduled: The Working Group on Mitigation at Sea will discuss its future agenda under the chairmanship of the UAE. The Somali Maritime Security Coordination Committee (MSSC) led by the Federal Government will discuss progress in the Somali maritime security governance structures. The Regional Capacity Building Working Group under the chairmanship of the Government of Kenya will continue its assessment of capacity building needs. Also, a meeting of the UN Trust Fund is scheduled.
The majority of plenary presentations and discussions are scheduled for Thursday. Opening statement are expected from the Government of Mauritius, the Government of Seychelles, the United Nations, and the Federal government of Somalia. This is followed by a discussion of the current threat situation, updates on regional developments, and a debate on the future working structures of the CGPCS. Friday events will focus on the communique and the adoption of the CGPCS reform.
July 2, 2017
The chair has released a new CGPCS newsletter which provides an overview of recent counter-piracy work. Please download the newsletter here.
May 17, 2017
In a press communique the Chairmen of the CGPCS commemorates Giles Noake, one of the key contributor of the counter-piracy architecture, in particular, the Best Management Practices. Read the full statement here.
May 3, 2017
The U.S. non-governmental organization and advocacy group Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) has launched its 2016 State of Maritime Piracy report at an event in the United Kingdom Chamber of Shipping, London. The report discusses counter-piracy trends and evolving threats in the Western Indian Ocean, global developments involving kidnap for ransom models of piracy, the human cost of maritime piracy in South Asia, the Caribbean, and South America and emerging trends in maritime crime in the Horn of Africa. It is available for download at the OBP website.
As part of the launch event Barry Faure, Chair of the CGPCS gave a keynote talk. In his comment, he highlighted the importance of securing the legacy of the counter-piracy work conducted by the international community and the need to further support the efforts of the region to provide maritime security. The full transcript of the talk is available here.
April 24, 2017
In a letter to the CGPCS participants, the Chair has announced the dates of the 2017 plenary. The 20th plenary of the CGPCS will take place in Mauritius from the 5th to the 7th of July, 2017. For further information contact the CGPCS Secretariat.
April 5, 2017
The chair has just released a new CGPCS newsletter with updates on counter-piracy developments. The chair also announced that the next plenary meeting will take place in Mauritius with dates still to be confirmed. Read the full CGPCS newsletter here.
March 27, 2017
Two recent commentaries published with The Conversation discuss consequences of the recent ARIS 13 hijacking off the coast of Somalia. Both commentaries foreground the importance of paying due attention to the needs and grievances of coastal populations and the importance of actively continuing the capacity building work in Somalia and the wider Western Indian Ocean region.
February 28, 2017
The Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia operating since 2010 under the auspices of the UN has been one of the major vehicles to fund counter-piracy projects. The trust fund was created to help defray the expenses associated with prosecution of suspected pirates, as well as other activities related to implementing the Contact Group’s objectives regarding combating piracy in all its aspects.
In 2016 the trust fund commissioned a strategic review, the results of which are now publicly available. The review provides an in-depth investigation of the causes of and responses to Somali-based piracy and a detailed discussion of the added value of the trust fund. The review authored by Peter Bauman and Sarah Hanssen of Bauman Global LLC is available here.
February 9, 2017
In a new communication to the CGPCS participants, the new CGPCS chairperson, Ambassador Barry Faure, Secretary of State of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Seychelles, announced the master message for the year: “Leaving a Lasting Legacy for the Region”.
The Ambassador also thanked all CGPCS participants for their ongoing commitment and announced that the next plenary is to be held in May/June this year.
The full communication is available here
January 19, 2017
In November 2016 the first meeting of the newly formed Regional Capacity Building Working Group was held in Dar Es Salaam. The primary focus of the group is to coordinate capacity building work in the region. It continues the regional work of the former CGPCS capacity building working group. the RCBWG is chaired by the Indian Ocean Commission and the Government of Kenya.
At the November meeting the terms of reference of the new group were discussed. A core agenda item were presentations of the national priorities of regional states, how coordination can be improved through a new RCBWG website. The minutes of the meeting and the summarizing document are available. The next meeting of the group will be held in the margins of the CGPCS plenary.
January 17, 2017
At a recent meeting of the Djibouti Code of Conduct states (DCoC) it was decided to broaden the focus of the agreement on other maritime crimes than piracy. The DCoC is a cooperation of states that have agreed to share information and support each other through joint training and capacity building projects. Initiated in 2009, the DCoC has led to the installment of three information sharing centers based in Sana’a (Yemen), Mombasa (Kenya), Dar es Salam (Tanzania), and a regional training center based in Djibouti. The DCoC is supported through the International Maritime Organization as well as the EU funded project CRIMARIO. Further information on the amendment to the DCoC is available here. An analysis of the importance of the DCoC from 2012 available here.
January 15, 2017
With the new year, the CGPCS welcomes a new chairperson. With recent changes at government level in the Republic of Seychelles, Ambassador Barry Faure, the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will assume the chair of the CGPCS. He follows up on Minister Joël Morgan who chaired the CGPCS in 2016. The CGPCS Secretariat will continue to be led by Mr. Raymond St. Ange as Head and Mr. Jaques Belle as Deputy Head. Read the full message of the outgoing and incoming chair here.
December 21, 2016
On 15th of December 2016 NATO has ended its Operation Ocean Shield. The end of the operation comes as no surprise since it was announced at the CGPCS plenary meeting in June 2016 and re-confirmed at NATO’s Warsaw Summit.
For six years NATO has been one of the big three naval missions and played a major part in containing piracy to its current levels. While everyone agrees that the risk of piracy remains, it is a logical step to consolidate current activities and ensure that the naval deterrent against piracy is consolidated. The CGPCS community already thanked NATO for its vital contribution in its 2016 communique, and this gratitude was also expressed in a range of statements published last week. For reports on the end of Ocean Shields, see the news stories by the Seychelles News Agency, the Kenyan BusinessDaily, Reuters and a comment on the lessons of the operations published by piracy-studies.org.
With the end of the operations, NATO has announced its continued commitment to support the fight against piracy, and the organization will continue to participate in the CGPCS and SHADE, contribute to capacity building and will maintain the dialogue with the shipping industry via the NATO Shipping Centre. This ensures that NATO is ready to re-engage should the need arise.
October 23, 2016
On the 23rd of October it was announced that 26 hostages captured during the heyday of piracy off the coast of Somalia were released. The crew of the FV Naham 3 was in captivity for 4.5 years and was released thanks to the support of the Hostage Support Partners program of Oceans Beyond Piracy. In a press declaration, the current CGPCS chairman, Minister Joël Morgan, commented
“It is indeed pleasing to understand that at long last, the crew of FV Naham 3 have been released from their captivity this after the tireless work of many, and in particular the efforts of Hostage Support Partners (HSP) for Oceans Beyond Piracy. It was earlier this year at the 19th Plenary of the CGPCS, held in Victoria, Seychelles, that John Steed of Oceans Beyond Piracy, made an impassioned plea that the contact group must appreciate that while acts of piracy being committed have been greatly reduced and contained, that piracy was not at an end, this as long as hostages remained. Those attending the plenary supported this call wholeheartedly. Today as the 26 remaining hostages of the Omani flagged vessel are going through the process to be reunited with their families, we are reminded and pay tribute to the three crew members who are not going home and who have since passed. As Chairman of the contact group I extend a job well done to all involved in this release. I again state that the work for 2017 remains to ensure that Somali piracy does not re-energise itself becoming once again a scourge on our seas, and that focus remain on the handful of hostages still in captivity to bring them home safely as well.”
October 18, 2016
The CGPCS Secretariat has published a new newsletter that provides updates on current developments. The newsletter contains a summary of the last plenary of the CGPCS and its revised structure, summaries of key developments in Somalia and the region and description of the current activities of core contributors to capacity building, including Oceans Beyond Piracy, UNODC, MASE, Crimario and the IOC. Read the full newsletter here.
October 11, 2016
Today it was announced that a meeting of the Working Group 1 will be held in Dar Es Salaam on November 16th.
At the 19th Plenary of the UN’s Contact Group for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) held in Victoria, Republic of Seychelles early this year, it was agreed to form a Working Group focussing upon the Indian Ocean region (outside of Somalia). This Group was charged with identifying the priorities and issues for regional maritime security capacity building. The Group will be co-chaired by Kenya and the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) in line with agreed reconfiguration of Working Group 1 (WG1) to enable greater responsibility and ownership for capacity building by the region. The UK will be providing support to Kenya and the IOC in the initial stages of this Group, as part of the transition programme to relinquish its role as co-chair of WG1 by 31/12/16. The first meeting of the Group will take place on Wednesday 16th November in Dar Es Salaam. Invitations to attend this Group will be sent to regional countries and active donors in the region.
If you wish to attend this meeting please contact the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
October 10, 2016
A new report by the UN secretary general, submitted to the UN Security Council pursuant to paragraph 33 of Security Council resolution 2246 (2015), provides an excellent overview of the developments over the last year and the diverse measures implemented by the international community and local actors. The report is clear in stating that “progress remains fragile and reversible. Credible reports indicate that Somali pirates possess the intent and capability to resume attacks against large commercial ships, should the opportunity present itself, and to endanger smaller vessels, which remain particularly vulnerable.” In particular, it alerts to the fact that “the complex linkage between piracy and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing continues to be of concern. The rise in the number of seafarers held by pirates in 2015 is largely attributable to hijackings of small fishing vessels.”
The report also contains summaries of the developments and progress of implementation of the diverse projects geared at the curbing of piracy off the coast of Somalia, including the work of UNODC, OBP, FAO, IMO and others. The full report is available here.
June 12, 2016
The final communique of the 19th plneary of the CGPCS, held in Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles from the 31st of May to 3rd of June 2016 is now available as pdf. The communique re-iterates the strong commitment of the international community for the fight against piracy, emphasizes the importance of the ownership of the Indian Ocean littorals, and sets out the new working structures of the CGPCS.
June 3, 2016
On the last day of the CGPCS Counter-Piracy week in the Seychelles the results were reported to the plenary and the communique reflecting the next steps was finalized. The CGPCS decided on streamlining its work by reforming the working group structure and introducing a reporting structure allowing CGPCS participants to follow development more easily without participating in the meetings themselves. The status of the plenary meetings will be reviewed in the 20th plenary of the CGPCS to be held in 2017. The final communique will be published on this website in due course.
June 3, 2016
On the third day of the 2016 CGPCS counter-piracy week the focus was on working groups and sub groups. In the morning one working group, the Trust Fund board and the Somali Maritime Security Coordination Committee (MSSC) met in parallel sessions. The discussions in the working group Maritime Counter Piracy and Mitigation Operations led by Seychelles, UAE, and Japan concentrated on the Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA) architecture in the Western Indian Ocean region. The American NGO Oceans Beyond Piracy presented the study on regional MSA concluded last year and pointed to the importance of avoiding duplication. The EU’s Crimario project, IOC, UNODC, MSCHoA and the IOC Anti piracy Unit provided updates on ongoing capacity building projects with and MSA focus. The shipping industry made a strong case for the importance of MSA in the long term, emphasizing that UKMTO has to remain active for the foreseeable future. The second part of the discussion concerned the future of the working group. It was agreed to transfer the discussion on MSA to the newly established regional capacity building coordination group. Participants disagreed over whether a working group focusing on operations at sea would still be required. A range of countries suggested to keep the format alive, not the least to give legitimacy to SHADE, or to be able to address any arising matters. Others pointed out that there are no substantial issues or objectives on the agenda which would justify keeping the group active. Both Japan and Seychelles announced that they will step down as co-chairs of the group.
In the morning session also the MSSC met for the first time as part of a CGPCS meeting. As agreed in yesterdays, Capacity Building working group meeting, the MSSC is expected to take over the coordination of capacity building within Somalia. In the Trust Fund Board meeting new board members were elected and decisions on a range of funding applications for counter-piracy project were made. In the afternoon a site visit to the Reflecs3 Building was organized with presentations given by the Regional Fisheries Crime Investigation Cell, and a demonstration of the Seychelles Marine Police Unit. In parallel a meeting on the first draft of the communique was held.
June 1, 2016
On the second day of the Seychelles counter-piracy week working group and ad hoc meetings were held. In the morning two working groups and the legal forum met. The working group Capacity Building discussed the state of capacity building efforts as well as the plans for how to continue its work. The Combined Maritime Forces gave an update on behalf of SHADE, the progress of the Somali Maritime Security Coordination Committee (MSCC) and the linked Somali Marine Resource and Security Strategy (SMRSS) was presented by IGAD, Oceans Beyond Piracy as well as a range of Somali representatives. The discussion then switched to the future of the working group. The UK presented three options, 1) to maintain the status quo, 2) to reconfigure and split the group in a national (Somali) and a regional (Western Indian Ocean) component, or 3) to disband the group transferring discussions to IMO and UNODC. In the following discussion participants demonstrated a strong preference for the second option. Under this option the coordination of Somali capacity building would be transfered to the MSCC chair, the regional group would be chaired by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and potentially a regional state with support by the US NGO Oceans Beyond Piracy.
The working group Disrupting Pirate Networks Ashore led by Italy discussed the current state of prosecuting piracy king pins and the successful work of the Law Enforcement Task Force. It was agreed that the work of the group is continued under the lead of Kenya and UNODC. The Legal Forum met to discuss the state of the forum and the website, as well as to reflect on the latest piracy judgement. The forum also launched a discussion on how to regulate floating armories operating in the Western Indian Ocean.
In the afternoon two ad hoc meetings were held. The first convened by BIMCO focused on how the industry can support capacity building. The second meeting chaired by UNODC, discussed how the coordination of the implementation of UNSC Resolution 2244 calling for the interruption of th charcoal trade from Somalia can be improved. This was followed by a site visit to the Seychelles Coast Guard Base and the UNODC judicial Court at Ile du Port.
June 1, 2016
April 15, 2016
The current Chairmen of the CGPCS has announced the preliminary agenda of the 19th plenary of the CGPCS. The meeting will be held in Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles, from the 31st of May to the 3rd of June. Following the plenary’s motto “From the Region to the Region: creating a lasting legacy” a major part of the agenda is devoted to strategic questions, in particular the legacy and the future of the group. Day 1 will be comprised of the first part of the plenary, largely comprised by welcomes and updates. This is followed by site visits, and working group meetings (day 1 afternoon to day 3). The plenary will continue on day 4. The full preliminary program has been send out to all stakeholders and will be made available online once confirmed.
February 8, 2016
On the 1st of February the CGPCS held a strategy meeting to take stock and plan its future activities. The one day event hosted by the Government of India and organized by the current chairmen, the Government of the Seychelles, took place at the Taj Lands End Hotel in Mumbai. The meeting was structured in four sessions (see the final meeting agenda here). Over 60 representatives of the CGPCS stakeholder community participated. The first session was comprised of welcome remarks, session two reviewed the contemporary situation, session three took stock of the activities of the Working Groups, while the final session was concerned with the strategic questions for 2016.
The meeting was opened by a welcome speech of the host, the government of India. Mr.Deepak Shetty, Director General of the Indian Directorate General of Shipping welcomed the participants. He highlighted the great achievements of the CGPCS and the important contributions of all stakeholders. Yet, as he stressed in the speech, the risk of piracy remains and a number of regulatory challenges, such as floating armouries, still require responses. Mr. Joël Morgan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Transport, Government of the Seychelles, the acting Chairman of CGPCS, welcomed the participants, laid out the agenda for the day as well as the core objectives of the Seychelles chairmanship. Mr. Morgan emphasized the challenges that the international community still faces
We recognize that even while we are making headway on the high seas as acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia further degrades, that the work of the international community will never truly be completed while the threats of instability brought about by terrorist elements on land still exists, and while the territorial waters of Somalia and the resources which it brings are not respected. Our work continues as well to ensure that all mariners currently being held by pirate gangs are returned safe and sound back to their countries of origin and to their loved ones.
Outlining the agenda of the chairmanship, he stressed the importance of planning for the mid to long term and ensuring that a lasting legacy is created in the region:
The Seychelles Presidency during its tenure, aims to consolidate the achievements of the CGPCS into a lasting legacy of structures, capacities and mechanisms that work and that have delivered to date. The international reaction to Somali piracy started as a response to a crisis. Now we need to consolidate the achievements of the crisis response and turn them into lasting mechanisms for regional and international cooperation. While we convene and deliberate let us resolve to keep our focus on the end game and the ‘what happens after’, as piracy further erodes and risks decline. We must be careful in not losing what has been achieved by not having assets that can be used to effectively check and counter check any attempt by pirate gangs to reassert themselves.
The full text of the speech is available here.
Remaining Challenges: The current situation
In session two four presentations were given on the current situation and activities of stakeholders. Mr. Raj Mohabeer from the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) provided an overview over the implementation of the regional Maritime Security Project, known as MASE, which is funded by the European Union. As Mr. Mohabeer argued the project had a very successful start and promises to provide a lasting structure for maritime security in the region. (The power point presentation is available here).
Mr. John Steed representing the non-governmental organization Oceans Beyond Piracy gave an update on the situation of the hostages in the hands of pirates. Mr Steed reminded the participants of the fate of hostages and stressed that the number of hostages is de facto higher than accounted in some of the official statistics.
EUNAVFOR, represented by Colonel Rory Copinger-Symes, gave an update on the current piracy threat. In largely re-iterating the threat assessment provided by SHADE at the last CGPCS plenary, Copinger-Symes argued that a significant threat remained. Both the intent to commit acts of piracy as well as the capacities to do so are still in place. Moreover, the observable decline of BMP compliance and use of private armed guards implies that opportunities for launching successful piracy attacks are potentially on the rise.
The session was concluded by a presentation of the shipping industry. Mr. Giles Noake from BIMCO detailed the process that lead to the autumn revision of the High Risk Area. He emphasized that the shipping industry does all that is needed to safeguard commercial shipping and that the BMP will continue to be a flexible tool that will be updated as needed.
Updates from the Working Groups
The CGPCS continues its work in the frame of three Working Groups, a virtual legal forum, and two technical subgroups. The third session of the meeting focused on the work of these groups and their agenda for 2016. The Working Group on Capacity Building chaired by the UK and the IOC continues to primarily focus its efforts on supporting Somalia in its maritime security sector reform process. An update on the regional needs assessment is also planned for 2016. The main work of the Working Group on coordination at sea, chaired by the Seychelles, the UAE and Japan for 2016 will focus on the maritime situational awareness architecture for the region. It was announced that the Seychelles would resign from co-chairing the group, and the government of India volunteered to take over that role. The Working Group on disrupting pirate networks ashore, chaired by Italy will continue its work, primarily in supporting the Law Enforcement Task Force. It was re-emphasized that the invitation to regional states to co-chair the group is still standing.
Strategic issues and the run-up to the 19th plenary.
The final session was devoted to strategic issues. Participants discussed the main goals and objectives of the Seychelles chairmenship which were summarized in a so-called master messages document (which is available here). The core objective will be to further regionalize the work of the group and to work towards a sustainable transition strategy. In the debate on the master messages, participants highlighted that the future of the CGPCS still required substantial discussion. The stakeholders outlined different options for the group. Some participants emphasized that the CGPCS work could be carried on by extending its mandate. The mandate could be widened either functional to cover different maritime security issues (such as illegal fishing or the link between maritime security and the blue economy) in the Western Indian Ocean region. It could also be extended regionally to cover cover piracy situations in other regions, such as Western Africa, or South East Asia. in a reform process. A range of participants raised concerns over any extensions of the mandate in pointing to the underlying UN Security Council resolution, or in stressing that the success of the group was always linked to its ‘laser sharp’ focus on piracy off the coast of Somalia. There was however agreement that the work of the CGPCS could be further streamlined. Following earlier proposals this could be in reducing the number of working groups (e.g. one working group on Somalia and one on the region), condensing the work of the plenary, or making better use of ICT. The reform and future debate will become a major item on the 19th plenary agenda. It was announced that the plenary will take place in the first week of June in Victoria, Seychelles.
The official summary of the meeting by the CGPCS chairmen is available here.
January 7, 2016
In a letter to all stakeholders the Chairmen of the CGPCS Joel Morgan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and
Transport, Republic of Seychelles, announced the agenda of the forthcoming strategy meeting of the group. In the letter he expressed his
“sincere appreciation to the outgoing EU Chair, Mr Maciej Popowski and his team for the remarkable and tremendous effort they made in combating piracy off the Coast of Somalia in all its forms, and by that promoting maritime security in the region.”
The meeting is now confirmed for the 1st of February and will be held in Mumbai. The draft agenda is available here. As expressed in the letter,
“The aim of this meeting is to do a stock-taking of all activities done by the working groups, to discuss the way forward for 2016 and beyond and to formulate a number of recommendations which can then be formalized at the next CGPCS Plenary session.”
January 3, 2016
In its December newsletter the EU’s CRIMARIO project provides an overview of its launch phase and activities in 2015. The EU’s Critical Maritime Routes Project (CRIMARIO) primarily intends to facilitate a culture of maritime situational awareness among Indian Ocean Rim states. It works in close collaboration with the EU’s MASE programme. Read the full newsletter here.
December 25, 2015
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime continues to be one of the lead agencies in the fight against piracy and other maritime crimes. In its recently published annual report UNODC gives an overview of the activities carried out in 2015. The report provides details about the Indian Ocean Forum on Maritime Crime (IOFMC), and UNODC’s broader work in the region to ensure rule of law and enable maritime security sector reform. The full report can be read here.
December 16, 2015
Representatives from around the world came together in Bahrain to discuss the ongoing fight to counter the piracy threat to shipping posed by criminal gangs from Somalia. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) chaired the 37th Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) meeting, which is hosted on a rotational basis by the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), NATO and the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). It included 80 representatives from 30 nations around the world. Captain Tufan Uslu, Assistant Chief of Staff Operations at Allied Maritime Command in Northwood, chaired the SHADE conference.
SHADE provides an international forum for frank and open discussions about ongoing counter-piracy operations in the Southern Red Sea, Bab El-Mandeb strait, the Gulf of Aden, the Somali Basin and the sea lanes around the Horn of Africa. The two day conference comprised a series of meetings between representatives from many organizations, both civilian and military, and offered an opportunity for the delegates to listen to keynote speakers who provided a broader understanding of the wider issues surrounding piracy in the region.
The conference included a comprehensive analysis of the piracy threat that shows that piracy-related incidents have reduced substantially since CMF, EUNAVFOR, NATO and other nations including China and Russia began counter-piracy operations in the region in 2008. Captain Uslu took the opportunity to recognise the contribution made by nations deploying units to the region independently, emphasizing the overarching theme of the 37th SHADE.
“The theme for this conference is one team one mission. This theme captures how we must all come together to ensure piracy does not rise again to delay global commerce. This requires support from all stakeholders.” said Captain Uslu.
SHADE underlines the importance of cooperation between military forces in the region and industry. Representatives of the maritime industry thanked the organizations involved in the counter-piracy effort and emphasized that it is important for industry to understand the evolving threat, to continue to support global Best Management Practices (BMP) and maintain trusted international reporting centres for shipping to ensure that piracy does not return. “The 37th convening of the SHADE showed once again the commitment from all of the counter-piracy actors that they remain engaged in countering the evolving piracy and maritime security threats that continue to exist in the region. Superb attendance, engaging guest speakers and in-depth discussions at this latest SHADE made it clear that there remains keen interest in the future of SHADE and a desire to move the mandate forward.” said Captain William Nault US Navy, Chief of Staff at CMF headquarters in Bahrain. The SHADE conference allows nations and organisations who would not normally coordinate their naval operations to meet on a regular basis and plan how best to combat piracy.
“SHADE demonstrates the importance of the international community coming together on a regular basis to discuss the on-going piracy threat and to reinforce the need for vigilance to deter pirates from deploying to sea to attack merchant shipping and other vulnerable vessels.” said Colonel Steve Hussey MBE, from the United Kingdom’s Royal Marines and Chief of Staff for EUNAVFOR.
(Source: CMF Website)
December 7, 2015
To prepare for the 19th plenary of the CGPCS , which will be held in July 2016, the incoming chairmen, Joel Morgan from the Government of the Seychelles announced a strategy meeting for the 28-29th of January 2016.
November 25, 2015
The Government of the Seychelles presiding over the CGPCS in 2016 announced the opening of its Secretariat. The functions of the CGPCS Secretariat are to provide support to the Chair in all of its duties and responsibilities; to plan the CGPCS meetings that are conducted under Seychelles Chairmanship; to manage the budget; to be the CGPCS front-office for the CGPCS stakeholder community and to administer and document all CGPCS processes. The Secretariat can be contacted by telephone +248 – 430 38 77 and via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of the announcement, the Government of the Seychelles also outlined the key priorities it aims at emphasizing in 2016. The Seychelles aims to give a voice to the aspirations and needs of the region, and will hence develop a regional agenda. The slogan campaign chosen by Seychelles for the 2016 CGPCS Presidency is “From the Region to the Region: creating a lasting legacy”. For that matter, the Seychelles Chair will consult widely and intensely in the Indian Ocean region to seek actively the opinions, views, expectations from the regional stakeholders in the CGPCS. A major axis of Seychelles Presidency will be the development of the Blue Economy and looking at suitable platforms for the CGPCS as members reflect on achievements, objectives and how best to continue the work of the group in the years to come, and as an example through the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). In sum the Seychelles presidency aims at
- Bringing the family together – an inclusive approach and process;
- Doing it together – Strength lies in unity
- The Seychelles aims to give a voice to the aspirations, needs and expectations of the entire Indian Ocean region
- From the Region to the Region – the Seychelles Presidency aims to create a lasting legacy
November 15, 2015
An international agreement that has been instrumental in repressing piracy and armed robbery against ships in the western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden is set to significantly broaden its scope. Signatories to the Djibouti Code of Conduct have agreed to work towards extending its remit to address other illicit maritime activity that threatens safety and security in the region, such as marine terrorism, environmental crimes, human trafficking and Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
National focal points for the code, which was adopted under the auspices of the IMO in 2009, have adopted a resolution expressing concern at the increasing risks from transnational organized crimes at sea and other threats to maritime safety and security in the region. They agreed to encourage information sharing on all illicit activities at sea. Training and other capacity-building activities implemented under the auspices of the Djibouti Code of Conduct have been credited with contributing to the reduction of piracy in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, alongside the efforts of merchant ships to implement IMO guidance and best management practices, naval forces continuing to deter and disrupt pirate activities and States continuing to prosecute suspected pirates and increasing their maritime law-enforcement capabilities.
But the focal points recognized that piracy in the region has merely been suppressed and its root causes have yet to be addressed. They agreed that, nonetheless, there is now a window of opportunity for IMO Member States in the region to implement capacity-building programmes to prevent a resurgence of piracy and to address wider maritime security issues, as a basis for sustainable development of the maritime sector. The focal points were meeting this week (11-12 November) in the newly-completed Djibouti Regional Training Centre, which was formally opened by Mr. Moussa Ahmed Hassan, Djibouti’s Minister of Equipment and Transport, on Thursday 12 November. The Djibouti Regional Training Centre will play a key role in regional capacity-building initiatives under the Code of Conduct.
IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu, speaking by video message during the ceremony, encouraged the Government of Djibouti to be imaginative in its use of the new building and to be proactive in maximizing its potential, for the benefit of the whole region. The centre could be used as a venue for wider port, maritime, law-enforcement or indeed any other training, conferences and meetings, as well as being a centre of excellence for regional maritime security training, he said.
“This impressive new centre will be a vital component in the provision of maritime security and other training in the Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean area and fully supports IMO’s 2015 World Maritime Day theme: “Maritime education and training”. It should be an asset to Djibouti and to the region for many years to come,” Mr. Sekimizu said. The national focal points meeting also approved the 2016 plan for regional training for Djibouti Code of Conduct countries.
Construction of the Djibouti Regional Training Centre was funded by Japan, through the Djibouti Code Trust Fund, with equipment provided by Denmark and the Republic of Korea. IMO continues to support Member States to implement the Djibouti Code of Conduct through its Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) and through the Djibouti Code Trust Fund. It also maintains a presence in the region, focussed on the code, with two staff members based in Nairobi, Kenya, whose primary role is training.
The opening ceremony was also attended by Mr. Chris Trelawny, Special Adviser to the IMO Secretary-General; His Excellency Tatsuo Arai, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Djibouti; His Excellency Joseph Silva, European Union Ambassador to Djibouti, Mr. Hassan Darar Houffaneh, Minister of Defence of Djibouti; Mr. Ali Mirah Chehem Daoud, Director of Maritime Affairs of Djibouti; Ms. Mina Houssein Doualeh, Director of the Djibouti Regional Training Centre; as well as senior government officials from Djibouti. Also present was Ambassador Nur Farah Hersi , Minister, Somali Federal Government, Ministry of Ports and Marine Transport as well as other representatives from Djibouti Code of Conduct signatories, donor countries and international training partners.
Djibouti Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden (the Djibouti Code of Conduct) provides a framework for capacity building in the Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean to counter the threat of piracy. The Code was signed on 29 January 2009 by the representatives of: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Seychelles, Somalia, the United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen. Comoros, Egypt, Eritrea, Jordan, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates have since signed, bringing the total to 20 countries. Since its adoption, the Code has become the major focus for facilitating transnational communication, coordination and cooperation in its four thematic broad pillars: delivering national and regional training, enhancing national legislation, information sharing and building counter-piracy capacity.More information on the Djibouti Code of Conduct is available here, the website of the Djibouti Regional Training Centre website is accessible here.
(Source: IMO Website)
October 9, 2015
Dear Friends of the CGPCS,
The announcement at the 18th Plenary Session of the CGPCS this past July that the CGPCS Presidency would be handed over from the European Union to the Republic of Seychelles, shows that efforts made in recent years by the Seychelles, have been duly recognized by the international community. We need not be reminded that Seychelles has been fully enaged and a very active country in the region, this in the fight against piracy.
As the incoming chair of the CGPCS for 2016, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the European Union for the confidence and trust they have put in Seychelles, and to every member of the contact group, for the support shown.
Today, acts of piracy may have fallen dramatically but as we all can appreciate not eniterely gone from the radar screen. Instability in Somalia still persists and now the added threats brought about by other criminal organisations who traffic in arms, drugs, and human trafficking, means that the vigilant and focused approach that brought like minded states and entities together to combat piracy in the first place, must now more than ever must not be lost for there is a mission that needs to be accomplished. That mission as well calls for all mariners currently held hostage by various pirate groups to be released and to be returned home.
Any instability in the region brought about by criminal international organisations and with the added threat of piracy which is still there, can disrupt not only the region’s economic development and well being, but farther afield, that of our global trading partners as well. The Indian Ocean as a ‘Zone of Peace and Opportunity’ a key, message for our presidency in 2016, suggests that our focused efforts together will see us as a group achieving to bring about what we all desire.
The importance for Seychelles, as a nation within the region, entrusted with the chairmanship of the contact group, is therefore even more meaningful, considering that it was from within the region that acts of piracy occured, threatening not only the Western Indian Ocean but well beyond the horizons as well. As a result, regional participation and leadership will be one of the areas that the Seychelles as chair will drive. Piracy having started within the region and off the coast of Somalia, makes it even more important that as a region that we add to what will be the end of piracy in totality in the Indian Ocean and off the coast of Somalia.
The Seychelles agenda as chair, will therefore be an agenda for the region based on wide consultations with regional partners to seek actively their opinions, views, expectations on issues of importance, a shared experience, which has the backing of the contact group as a community.
I am fully confident that together we can influence post 2016 decisions to ensure that the work within the contact group goes on and by so doing, creating a long lasting legacy that will serve the group and all others, from the region, to the region and beyond, well after the original work of the CGPCS comes to its end.
October 8, 2015
The High Risk Area (HRA) that marks the territory in which the Best Management Practices 4 should be adopted has been a vital tool in the state-industry collaboration to successfully contain piracy. The exact size of the HRA has become contested since quite a while. Today the current chairman of the CGPCS, the External Action Services announced together with a set of Industry Associations representing the consortium authoring the BMP the revision of the HRA. As the EEAS suggested in today’s press declaration:
“The dispute over the boundaries of the HRA has been the longest and most divisive issue that the stakeholders of the Contact Group have faced since its inception in 2009. The way the piracy High Risk Area dispute has been handled and now concluded is testimony to the Contact Group model of multi-stakeholder governance. Maciej Popowski: “This reinforces the conviction that the Contact Group model can serve as an example and reference for international coordination and cooperation when the international community is confronted with complex international problems. All CGPCS stakeholders deserve to be congratulated on this resounding success.”
The industry announced today to revise the coordinates of the High Risk Area, while pointing to the importance of the Voluntary Reporting Area not changing. The changed coordinates will be in place from the first of December 2015. As the industry associations pointed out:
“The revised area acknowledges the variable nature of the piracy risk in the region as highlighted by the SHADE threat assessment and recognises the vital contribution of military counter-piracy forces, whilst at the same time trying to ensure that awareness and self-protection by merchant ships endure. […] The HRA is now reconfigured to new coordinates recognizing the proposals made to the Contact Group and designating an area in which merchant ships should apply the appropriate self-protection measures.”
September 15, 2015
During this week the current CGPCS chairmenship team from the EEAS is briefing the incoming team from the Republic of Seychelles. The Seychelles will take over the chairmenship from January 2016. On the agenda are items, such as the working practices of the CGPCS, but centrally also the future of the group. The Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation has produced a short news story on the handover which is available here.
July 21, 2015
HEM Robert Dussey, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Togo gave the keynote remarks at the CGPCS side event held on 9 July on the topic of “Supporting Pan African Goals for 2050.” The event was sponsored by Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) and the International Peace Institute and also featured HEM Téte António, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the UN, who discussed the importance of the “Decade of African Seas and Ocean.” Minister Dussey was also invited to the Plenary session of the CGPCS to announce that the Republic of Togo would host the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union of Maritime Security and Development in Africa from 2-7 November in Lomé, Togo.
Maritime Focus Groups Convened in New York
In preparation for the Summit, Minister Dussey had reached out to OBP to provide technical support to help frame issues that could support the goals of the African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS), which will form the basis for planning. Taking advantage of the Minister’s presence in New York, OBP invited several maritime experts from governments, international organizations and non-governmental agencies to attend Focus Group meetings which were held on a variety of maritime issues of critical importance to the entire African continent. Based on expertise provided by some of the CGPCS participants, the discussions also addressed possible lessons learned from East Africa that could be applied to Pan African challenges. The Focus Group meetings addressed ocean environment conservation, illicit trafficking and smuggling, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in addition to piracy and armed robbery at sea. Each group generated practical recommendations and actionable goals that could frame maritime issues and help guide the agenda of the upcoming summit.
Issue Recommendations Presented at the Side Event
The Focus group ideas were then presented to Minister Dussey during the second panel of the side event, which was moderated by Jérôme Michelet of OBP and included Lisa Speer of Natural Resources Defense Council, Robert Mazurek of Secure Fisheries, John Steed of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and the French Special Representative for the Fight Against Piracy, Ambassador Véronique Roger-Lacan.
Both the focus group and panel discussions proved to be important steps in the preparation of the African Maritime Summit, and provided a vision of some of the most critical issues to African governments. The Summit will bring together the Heads of State and government of the fifty-four countries in the African Union in Lomé, Togo to create consensus on a cohesive African maritime future based on implementation of the 2050 AIM Strategy.
“The Togolese government is committed to the success of this Summit,” said Minister Dussey. “We believe that this event will mark the beginning of a new era, which sees the maritime domain as an important tool in African development.” Minister Dussey concluded the event by saying, “Africa is a continent of the future. Believe in us and we can work together.”
Oceans Beyond Piracy and its partners are looking forward to continuing their work with Togo in a consultative capacity to help ensure actionable progress is achieved in November.
July 15, 2015
The final Communique of the 18th Plenary Meeting of the CGPCS has been published and is available in the CGPCS archives. The meeting chaired by the European External Action Service took place on the 8th of July 2015 at the United Nations in New York. A short summary of the meeting can be found here. Full coverage of the meeting is also available as video through UN Web TV.
July 9, 2015
On July the 8th the 18th plenary of the CGPCS met at the UN in New York. Following up on the working group meetings the day prior, the plenary had a rich agenda. Three core issues emerged. Firstly, the importance of illegal fishing in maritime security, secondly, how the piracy king pins can be efficiently prosecuted. Thirdly, how the High Risk Area as defined in the industry’s Best Managment Practices 4 should be reviewed and revised. This issue continued to be very controversial and hence occupied much of the meeting’s agenda. It was also announced that the Government of the Seychelles will become the new Chair of the CGPCS.
The day, which was webcasted via UN Web TV for the first time, started out with a range of welcome statements, after which attention focused on the problem of illegal fishing and its link to piracy. It is well known since years how crucial the problem of illegal coastal fishing is and that it does not only threaten the food security of coastal communities, but also contributes to radicalization. Indeed the prevalence of fishery crimes was one of the issues that pirates could use to mobilize support from local communities. As the presentations by the Federal Government of Somalia and the Food and Agricultural Organization highlighted, with the decline of piracy, fishery crime has increased. In many ways the Somali coast is in a similar situation as it was in 2005 before piracy became big business. Recent incidents involving fishing vessels being captured, as underlined by the SHADE briefing, bare similarities to that time. The fact that the issue featured high on the plenary agenda, proves that fishery crime and the concerns of Somali communities finally start to be taken serious.
The second core issue concerned how to handle the still existing piracy networks. Several assessments highlighted that many of the piracy networks are still intact. The masterminds of these networks still have not been prosecuted and the risk that they find ways of how to get back to business remains high. A crucial element in addressing this is the Law Enforcement Task Force, a subgroup of the former Working Group 5. Following a report of the chair of the subgroup, the group is working well, but much still needs to be done. A controversial issue concerned whether the working group (titled disrupting piracy networks) overseeing the work of the subgroup should be maintained. The working group might be important in particular to keep the pressure on Somalia high to actually prosecute known king pins.
Several statements and negotiations concerned the process of how the HRA revision should be handled. While industry agreed to take the next step and conduct a review, the main object of congregation concerned whether this would imply that the CGPCS could actually devise the industry working group that they should revise the coordinates of the HRA. A wording for the communique, after lengthy negotiations, was finally found and the industry working group will conclude their discussions on how to revise the BMP by October this year.
The statements of delegations, finally, revealed that there are mixed feelings about the future of the CGPCS. If everyone agrees that the risk of a return of piracy remains and hence activities, such as the patrols by CMF, will continue, some delegations argued for fading out the CGPCS work soon. The argument for closure is based on the view that piracy is primarily a Somali problem. Since several coordination mechanisms dealing with the security sector in Somalia, such as those created under the New Deal, exist, the work of the CGPCS could be merged with these. The case against closing the CGPCS is based on the recognition that piracy is a transnational problem and that the coordination of international activities in the Western Indian Ocean region will remain vital. Organizing the debate will be in the hand of the new incoming Chair which will take over from January 2016, the Government of the Seychelles.The full text of the communique reflecting the meeting will be available soon in the CGPCS archives. A video of the accompanying press conference is available here.
The full Commumique is available here.
The summary reflects the observations of the author and not necessarily those of the entire CGPCS community.
July 8, 2015
On the 7th of July, a day ahead of the CGPCS plenary, the working groups on capacity building and on operations met at the representation of the European Union in New York. The working group on capacity building took stock of current efforts with a focus on Somalia. The main capacity builders, including, Eucap Nestor, UNODC, UNSOM, OBP, and MASE provided updates, as did the Federal Government of Somalia, and the Somali regions, Puntland, Galmadug, as well as Somaliland. The core problem that was identified was the multiplicity of coordination mechanisms that aim at improving the Somali maritime security sector. As one participant put it, “it is time that coordination mechanisms start coordinating among themselves.” It was decided to rationalize the coordination process, so everyone would work with one policy document. This would not only allow to better monitor progress, but also the first steps of an exist strategy of the working group. A crucial issue that continues to complicate the issue is how to include Somaliland in the structures. In addition also the new coast guard of Somalia was discussed.
The meeting clearly focussed on Somalia, and the need of moving forward. The capacity building neds of the broader Western Indian Ocean region received less attention.
This was reversed in the meeting of the working group on operations which concerned mainly developments in the region. Two items made the heart of the discussion. Firstly, the debate on the High Risk Area. Continuing the process launched by the chairmen in 2014, SHADE as well as the government of India presented their threat assessments. These assessments were not further discussed, since this item is part of the plenary agenda. The second topic of discussion were the results of the Technical Subgroup on Maritime Situational Awareness. Jon Huggins from Oceans Beyond Piracy presented the results and the document was adopted. The Document will be available through this website soon after the plenary closes.
July 8, 2015
In collaboration with Web UN TV, the chairman of the CGPCS for the first time presents a livestream of the plenary of the CGPCS. Please watch it by following this link.
July 7, 2015
For the first time it will be possible to follow the entire CGPCS plenary via webcast. UN Web TV will show the presentations and discussions live, on Wednesday, 8.7.2015, from 9.00 (CET). The video will also be made available on demand. You can access the livestream via the following link: http://webtv.un.org/live-now/watch/contact-group-on-piracy-off-the-coast-of-somalia/2730069557001.
July 3, 2015
Also the WG working on capacity will meet during the counter-piracy week in New York. Under the chairpersonship of the United Kingdom and the Indian Ocean Commission the WG aims at improving the coordination in the field of capacity building. The main items on the agenda (which is available here), will be the results of the technical sub group which aims at spotting gaps and matching projects and needs in the region and the current developments in the Maritime Security Sector Reform in Somalia.
June 30, 2015
The Co-Chairs of the Working Group on Maritime Counter-piracy and Mitigation Operations have announced the agenda for the next meeting. The meeting will be held in conjunction with the CGPCS’s 18th Plenary Session and take place in New York on 7th July 2015.
The goal of the meeting will be to discuss the recent activities of the Working Group, as well as key developments in the area of Maritime Counter-piracy and Mitigation Operations. One of the main agenda items will be to consider the recently completed report of the Technical Subgroup on Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA). In addition, the SHADE Co-Chairs will provide a briefing on the latest Threat Assessment on the High-Risk Area, which was requested by the CGPCS Chair in March and presented at the recent SHADE Conference in Bahrain. The briefing will provide helpful background to members in advance of the larger discussion on the HRA during the Plenary Session. The meeting agenda and relevant background documents are available through the CGPCS Workspace.
June 29, 2015
From the 7th to the 9th of July the CGPCS will hold its next meeting in New York. The Trust Fund, the Working Group on Capacity Building and on Operations will meet on July 7th, on July, the 8th the plenary will be held, and for July 9th a side event is scheduled that focuses on the future of the maritime security architecture in the region. Over 160 stakeholders will attend the event and it is expected that a new chairperson will be announced. Access the full meeting agenda here.
June 20, 2015
Acting chairperson of the CGPCS Maciej Popowski from the EEAS presented the work of the CGPCS in the light of the future of the maritime security architecture in the Indian Ocean at two international conferences. At the conference titled “The Indian Ocean: A Maritime Region on the Rise” organized by the German ministry of foreign affairs, Popowski outlined that the CGPCS is a useful model for networked governance which will be helpful for establishing a future security architecture in the region (read the speech here). At the 9th national maritime conference, held equally in Berlin, Popowski foregrounded the importance of a functional approach to maritime security centered on cooperation and coordination (read the entire speech here).
June 9, 2015
How is maritime piracy developing? What are the current numbers? The NGO Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) continues to be a main source of information on piracy and its human and economic cost. For the first time OBP has published an aggregated report on piracy which brings all available data together. Please read the entire report here. Core findings include
- Southeast Asian piracy is especially dangerous for seafarers based on the quantity of
attacks and 90% boarding success rate. Nearly 3,600 seafarers were on board
vessels boarded by pirates in SE Asia.
- Gulf of Guinea piracy continues at unacceptable levels. There have been no piracy
prosecutions and there is a lack of effective cooperation between regional
governments and industry.
- Total economic cost estimated at $983 million for 2014.
Collective efforts to address Somali piracy continue to dwindle, while there are
indications that pirate activity and intent remain. Total economic cost for 2014
estimated at $2.3 Billion.
- At least 5,000 seafarers were attacked in Southeast Asia, the Gulf of Guinea, and Western
Indian Ocean in 2014.
May 13, 2015
The acting chair of the CGPCS, the European External Action Service has announced the initial agenda of the next working group and plenary meetings. The plenary will take place on the 8th of July in New York, while Working Group meetings are scheduled for the day prior. For the plenary, presentations of the UNODC’s Maritime Crime Forum, on FAO’s response to fishery crimes, on the HIgh Risk Area meeting and on the Lessons Learned Project are scheduled.
The new CGPCS newsletter, which can be accessed here, focusses specifically on the work of UNODC and EUCAP Nestor. As Maciej Popowski, current Chairmen of the CGPCS, phrases it in his introduction to the newsletter, the “broad range of activities undertaken through both the MCP and the EU mission” are impressive. “Through efforts like these we ensure that the positive trend downwards (zero successful pirate attacks since 2012), is sustained and not reversed.”
April 29, 2015
A new comment piece by LLC investigator Christian Bueger from Cardiff University discusses the question whether informal governance complements or challenges the legitimacy of the UN system Drawing on the CGPCS as an example it is argued that formal and informal governance complement each other. In an increasingly complex world formal institutions are not able to deliver what is needed on there own. The CGPCS is a groundbreaking role model on how to organize informal governance. The comment was published in the MUN PLanet series “The UN at 70”. Read the full comment here.
March 28, 2015
The acting chair of the CGPCS has published the summary of the meeting on the High Risk Area (HRA) held in Brussels on the 13th of March. As previously reported, during the meeting the participants agreed on a basic process for reconsidering the contours of the HRA. The formal chair summary is available here.
March 20, 2015
At a session of the Subcommittee on Security and Defense of the European Parliament on the 17th of March the state of current counter-piracy was discussed. Marcus Houben from the EEAS, head of the support team of the EU chairmanship of the Contact Group ,and Alan Cole, Director of the UNODC’s Maritime Crime Programme gave a presentations. Mr. Houben highlighted why the CGPCS works so well as a mechanism, and that it was instrumental in coping with the piracy situation. He stressed that the CGPCS it is a role model for how to organize effective multi-lateral crisis responses. Mr. Cole emphasized why further efforts will be required not only to contain piracy, but deal with the broader maritime security situation in the Western Indian Ocean region. The video of the presentation is available here and the full transcript of Mr. Houben’s presentation here.
March 15, 2015
On the 13th of March an extra-ordinary meeting of the CGPCS was held to address the issue of the revision of the High Risk Area (HRA). With the decline of the number of successful and attempted piracy incidents since 2012, the extent and scope of the HRA has increasingly become controversial. This notably concerns whether the territorial waters and EEZ’ of the Western Indian Ocean littorals should be considered part of the HRA. The HRA is a vital component in the counter-piracy architecture and important to coordinate naval activities as well as organize the relation between navies and shipping companies. The widely successful Best Management Practices 4 (BMP4) entail that vessels navigating through the area report to UKMTO.
Littoral states such as India find the scope of the HRA problematic given the economic pressure the zone puts on trade in the region, as well as the proliferation of small arms as a consequence of private security companies operating in the region. For the shipping associations (including ICS, INTERTANKO, BIMCO), revising the area comes too early. It would imply to revise the BMP4 (and print new manuals and charts), and might lead to a loss of awareness of shipping companies as well as a potential disengagement of naval actors. Both of these positions were re-iterated at the meeting held in Brussels.
During the meeting, the shipping associations made an innovative proposal. that is, to disentangle the broader HRA from the reporting area in the BMP4, and re-name this area as “Reporting Area”. Transcending the problem in such a way is not only about semantics, but to recognize that the HRA is actually not one space, but several, and used for different purposes (reporting, naval coordination, insurance). For the littorals this compromise proposal, however, did not go far enough. They called for a thorough revision of the HRA and the process by which decisions on the current or future HRAs are made. Littoral States question the authority of the industry to make such decisions through self-regulation without appropriate consultation with governments.
The meeting however had a tangible outcome. Facilitated by the acting chairman, the European External Action Service, the agreement reached at the meeting was to initiate a process by which the HRA could be revised. The basis for this process is a “threat assessment” that the “big three” naval missions (EUNAVFOR, NATO, CMF) will conduct until the next CGPCS plenary meeting in New York in July 2015. On this basis the industry will then conduct a risk assessment. If this process is not a “solution” or end of the controversy, it ensures that the debate moves on. It ensures that the controversy does not become frozen and that the CGPCS remains the forum in which agreements between the various stakeholders are reached.
The full statement that reflects the outcomes of the meeting will be published on lessonsfrompirac.net in due course.
March 10, 2015
The migration crisis in the Mediterranean sea in many was has similarities to Somali piracy in that it calls for concerted action and improved information sharing across national, civil-military and public-private divides. How important the lessons from piracy are in this regards became clear at a recent multi-agency meeting convened by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The High-Level Meeting to Address Unsafe Mixed Migration by Sea was held in London on March, the 4th, 2015. Outcome of the meeting attended by various UN agencies, governments and the shipping industry was to agree on a mechanism for coordination and information-sharing. Several speakers, including Bernd Hemingway, European director of the International Organization for Migration, and Peter Hinchliffe, secretary-general of the International Chamber of Shipping, stressed that the CGPCS and the coordination mechanisms such as SHADE and Mercury could provide useful ideas of how to handle the challenge. According to IHS360, Hemingway, said,
“When the economic interests in combating piracy became apparent, the tools were found to combat it. That’s the entry point with governments.”
The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia that was formed in the beginning of 2009 generated the interest of Governments and maintained the willingness and determination of international community to take action against Somali piracy. In order to take effective concerted action to the problem at hand in the Mediterranean, we also need a forum of Governments, UN agencies and industry. I hope that IMO can provide such an opportunity and perform such a function as the forum to facilitate forming concerted efforts of the international community, in particular for the maritime phase of the problem we are facing in the Mediterranean. I do not think we need another Contact Group because IMO can do the exact function of that group for the Mediterranean issues, together with Member Governments.
Whether and how the IMO could perform such a role remains to be seen. The lesson from the CGPCS is that coordination and information-sharing is best facilitated through an informal and flexible forum which can recurrently adapt to the changing situation and experiment with new ideas. A coordination mechanism within the IMO system, which is a after all heavily rule-based and bureaucratic system, hence, appears hence less promising. Yet, in order to work the CGPCS required strong leadership. If Sekimizu’s remark is meant to indicate that the IMO secretariat will take leadership on the issue and chair a newly created forum, than the international community is certainly on the right track. The IMO could act as an honest broker. Yet, whether it has as an UN agency the resources and capacities that governments or the EU Commission could provide in order to perform this role, is an open question.
March 4, 2015
The definition of the High Risk Area (HRA) and how it is linked to the coordination of SHADE, the reporting area of the Best Management Practices 4, and the War Risk Area of the Joint War Committee of the LLoyds Market Association continues to be a contentious issue. The question of whether the HRA requires to be revised is on the CGPCS agenda since the 11th plenary (New York, 29th March 2012). Notable progress on the question has been made since the CGPCS chairmen organized a special ad hoc meeting as part of the 17th plenary session in Dubai. The purpose of that meeting was to allow all stakeholders to explain their position and put forward ideas on the scope of the HRA. Stakeholders agreed to a high degree of responsibility by all stakeholders in approaching this subject. Stakeholders expressed the wish to identify a shared, common, way forward. To push the debate forward the acting chairmen of the CGPCS is organizing a meeting to facilitate a recommendation on the review of the scope of the HRA. The meeting takes place on the 13th of March in Brussels.
March 3, 2015
The acting chairman of the CGPCS has released a new newsletter on the CGPCS and also announced that the next CGPCS meeting will be held in New York, 7-9.7.2015. The Newsletter, which is available here, contains stories and update on the naval missions, the recent release of the hostages of the FV Prantalay, as well as insights on capacity building projects, such as SmartFish, the UNODC Maritime Crime Forum and the EU’s MASE.
February 27, 2015
Dear Colleagues and Friends of the CGPCS,
It is with great relief and satisfaction that I welcome the release of the four remaining crewmen of the FV Prantalay 12 vessel, taken hostage at sea by Somali pirates on 18 April 2010. I salute the resilience of these four men who have endured the horrible ordeal of the longest period of captivity by any hostages of Somali pirates. I congratulate and thank our colleagues from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), funded by the Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, for their efforts in securing the release.
While the release of the hostages is welcome news, Somali pirates are still holding 26 more hostages, abducted from the FV Naham 3. I call, on behalf of all CGPCS stakeholders, for the immediate release of the remaining seafarers and urge all stakeholders to engage in initiatives to secure their expeditious and safe return, as well as tracing urgently the whereabouts of seafarers who went missing from Somalia while being held in captivity by pirates.
Maciej Popowski, Deputy Secretary General, European External Action Service
February 12, 2015
The question of which lessons can be learned from counter-piracy and how these can inform the future maritime security architecture of Africa, was subject of a joint meeting of the European Union and the African Union held from the 8th to the 9th February in the Seychelles. Further information is available here.
February 7, 2015
In a new article published in the journal Global Affairs, LLP team member Dr. Bueger reviews the five root causes of piracy and reflects on whether the current counter-piracy response is tackling these successfully. Coming to the conclusion that the current response raises questions of sustainability the discussion turns to the general lessons that can be learned from the rise and fall of Somali piracy for maritime security governance more broadly. The article is available as open access.
February 1, 2015
The CGPCS Technical Sub Group on Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA) was established following the 15th plenary meeting of the CGPCS held in Djibouti in November 2013, which agreed that “a technical sub group of WG1 will consider future information sharing requirements in the maritime domain and present a paper on the anticipated challenges and potential solutions for discussion by WG1 in early 2014.”
Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) agreed to convene this sub group and facilitate mapping of the issues. Three meetings were held in February, May, and September of 2014, resulting in two documents titled ‘Initial Findings’ and ‘Final Findings’, and a 2 page summary showing the current and planned information sharing framework in the Western Indian Ocean. At the 17th plenary meeting of the CGPCS held in Dubai in October 2014 the WG Counter Maritime Piracy and Mitigation Operations agreed that MSA should be included in the work plan of the WG. As part of its ongoing support to the CGPCS and with support from Chairmen of the WG Counter Maritime Piracy and Mitigation Operations, OBP organized the subject workshop in Brussels, Belgium on 29-30 January 2015. Approximately 30 representatives from governments, international and regional organizations, military agencies, the maritime industry, and civil society participated in the workshop. The workshop was funded by OBP, and was hosted by the CGPCS WG Counter Maritime Piracy and Mitigation Operations and OBP. Previous meetings of the sub group had identified three types of information, or building blocks, needed for a comprehensive MSA framework. These information types formed the foundation for discussions during the workshop: (1) Maritime Traffic Awareness; (2) Maritime Threat Awareness; and (3) Maritime Response Awareness.
The participants to the workshop concluded that the continuous efforts over the past six years from industry, national and regional authorities and the proactive synchronization of the three coalitions and independent deployers through the SHADE process have created “the world’s most comprehensive Maritime Response Awareness system” and that the common goal now is to create and ensure a comprehensive, sustainable MSA framework in the Indian Ocean. To achieve this goal, participants concluded, it will require the sustained commitment by Industry, International Community and Countries in the region; developing a better appreciation and understanding of regional aspirations and retaining the legacy (lessons learned) and expertise for an adequate MSA framework. The importance of adequate Maritime Situational Awareness cannot be underestimated. It is a central requirement to ensure free and safe shipping and a fundamental precondition for national and regional authorities, not only to counter-piracy, but for maritime security in general. But to establish and sustain a comprehensive MSA is positively challenging as it requires vision, long-term commitment and a combined and shared effort of a multitude of stakeholders. The work of the Technical Sub Group on MSA is in this regard of the utmost importance. The full report of the Workshop will be available shortly through the CGPCS website.
February 1, 2015
On January, 29th, 2015, the lessons from the CGPCS were discussed at NATO’s Operations Policy Committee. The briefing by the LLP stressed the future role that experimental security governance systems can play, the potential of multi-layered approaches and the importance of day-to-day coordination to enable a culture of trust and confidence.. The discussion centered on the question whether and how the CGPCS system could be used to respond to crisis situations in general, but also how the functionality can be preserved to tackle piracy in the long run. Please find the full text of the briefing here.
December 9, 2014
The CGPCS chairman has published its December 2014 newsletter (available via the following link: CGPCS Newsletter December 2014). Without giving too much away, the issue includes reflections on the recent 2014 UAE Counter-piracy Week that included 17th Plenary Session of the CGPCS and the 4th UAE Counter-piracy Conference. It also draws attention to the work of the Lessons Learned Consortium, including a reference to the repository of CGPCS lessons learned papers available here at www.lessonsfrompiracy.net and also the recent EUISS published lessons learned report (Fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia).
Furthermore, the newsletter also discusses the launch of the CGCS Piracy Survivor Family Fund that will be administered by the non-profit Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (www.mphrp.org) as a means of providing support to the survivors and families of piracy attacks (more details on this initiative can be found on page 2 of the newsletter). In addition, the newsletter reports that $900,000 has been approved, by the Board of the Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, to support three projects submitted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the UNODC. The Newsletter can be accessed here: CGPCS Newsletter December 2014
November 23, 2014
The Lessons Learned Project is delighted to announce the publication of the communiqué from the 17th plenary session of the CGPCS, held in Dubai on 28th October 2014. Together with the Working Group sessions and the 4th UAE Counter-piracy Conference, the plenary session formed the 2014 UAE Counter-piracy Week hosted by the Government of the United Arab Emirates. The communiqué notes the Contact Group’s welcome of the United Nations Secretary General’s report (S/2014/740) that highlighted the importance of continued deterrence and international naval presence in combating piracy. The CGPCS also welcomed the release of eleven seafarers belonging to the hijacked vessel M/V Albedo.
While the CGPCS congratulated the Somali authorities for the resumption of the Somali Coast Guard’s international duty station at the entrance of Mogadishu Sea Port and for the success of 61 Somali cadets from Coast Guard and Port Police that recently graduated from their seven week training course, the CGPCS expressed concern and regret at the release, by the Federal Government of Somalia, of Mohammed Garfanje, a known pirate leader and kingpin. Acknowledging that, despite the irrefutable success of international efforts, piracy networks are still in intact, the CGPCS called upon the Federal and Regional Governments in Somalia to arrest, prosecute or extradite pirate leaders operating in and from their territory. Further, the CGPCS also called upon all States, both in the region and globally, to arrest and bring to justice pirate leaders, negotiators, middlemen and financiers.
Prior to the plenary, the Working Group on Capacity Building agreed, in principle, to a draft paper on priorities for counter piracy capacity building to end of 2016 and to the proposal of EUCAP Nestor to rebrand the Capacity Building Coordination Group (CBCG) as the ‘technical group on Capacity Building’ with a revised high level strategic role to monitor work priorities for 2016. Finally the communiqué records the request from the CGPCS chair for stakeholders to consider forwarding the candidacy to chair the CGPCS in 2015 and the CGPCS’s agreement that in 2015 one Plenary Session will be held in the region. The full communique is available here: Communique of CGPCS’s 17th Plenary
November 15, 2014
On 12th November, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed resolution 2184 renewing authorisations, first passed in 2008, for international action to combat piracy off the Coast of Somalia. The resolution highlighted the importance of coordination among States and international organizations in order to deter acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, commends the work of the CGPCS to facilitate such coordination in cooperation with the IMO, flag States, and Somali authorities, and urges continued support of these efforts
The resolution also continued to exempt, from the arms embargo imposed on Somalia by resolution 733 (1992), supplies of weapons and military equipment destined for the sole use of States, international, regional and sub-regional organizations taking measures in line with the authorizations. In addition, the Security Council underlined the primary responsibility of Somali actors in the fight against piracy and armed robbery off their coast and urged Somali authorities to adopt the necessary legal framework. Furthermore, all States were urged to adopt legislation to facilitate the prosecution of suspected pirates and to take measures to prevent the illicit financing of piracy.
November 6, 2014
The Lessons Learned Project is delighted to reveal the latest figure to participate in our In Conversation with series, Alan Cole from the UNODC.
In this conversation Alan Cole, head of the UNODC Counter Piracy Programme (2009-2013) and UNODC Maritime and Transnational Crime Programme (since 2013) discusses how the CGPCS achieved to get a broad range of actors together and focus attention on the problem of piracy. He also takes a critical stance in arguing that more should have been done to ensure commitment from the government of Somalia and that not always all of the stakeholders have been adequately represented. He identifies the dangers that the CGPCS increasingly suffers from inefficiencies and over time has become more ritualistic and hence risks losing its experimentalist spirit. He foregrounds the importance of focussing the work on the challenges and the areas were the collective brainpower of the CGPCS members can make a difference. The conversation also includes reflections on how the future counter-piracy architecture could look like.The conversation was held on the 3rd of November 2014 at the UNODC offices, United Nations Office in Nairobi. The full transcript of the conversation is available here.
November 4, 2014
On 28th October, at the 17th Plenary of the CGPCS, Dr. Christian Bueger (Cardiff University) was invited to update Contact Group members on the progress of the Lessons Learned Project. His presentation outlined a number of initial conclusions from the project’s work and delineated a number of functions that have been performed by the CGPCS. These functions included:
- Networking: the group allows members to find the right people to share labour with to get the job done.
- Learning: Learning what others are doing and what challenges they are facing. But also to introduce newcomers to the game who just have taken over the portfolio.
- Trust: The Group builds trust by creating transparency and developing a shared knowledge base.
- Aligning perspectives and interests: The core contribution of the group is that in each meeting a shared narrative is developed, of where the CGPCS has come from and where it has to go. This involves agreeing on a common definition of the problem and manufacturing consent (and implies hard labour especially by the team of the chairmen).
- Attention: The groups ensures that attention remains high and raises awareness in governments and also helps to convince the region that piracy is (also) an African problem.
Dr. Bueger argued that the CGPCS had been able to successfully execute these functions as a result of its multi-layered approach (involving a mix between specialist working groups, diplomats and ‘implementers’). He concluded by noting that while it is doubtful whether the same mechanism as the CGPCS could be used in combating maritime crime in general, the multi-layered approach and experimental type of governance embodied in the CGPCS could provide a major role model.
November 4, 2014
The Lessons Learned Project is delighted to announce the publication, by the EU ISS (a partner member of the CGPCS Lessons Learned Consortium), of the following report, Fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia. The report represents one of the core outputs of the Lessons Learned Project and makes a major contribution to one of the main priorities of the 2014 EU Chairmanship of the CGPCS: to adequately document the lessons learned from the Contact Group.
In this report, the EUISS has brought together a number of authors who have been involved in the CGPCS from the outset to document the genesis and evolution of the Contact Group since its inception in 2009. These contributions offer an overview of the work of the Contact Group and illustrate the road the CGPCS stakeholders have travelled together as well as the manner in which the international counter-piracy strategy has evolved.
The full report is available here: Fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia
October 25, 2014
The new report on piracy of the UN Secretary General released on 22.10.2014 provides a current evaluation of the piracy situation and calls for sustained efforts (document S/2014/740). According to a news release the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council, that progress was “fragile and reversible”, stressing that the underlying political instability and lack of alternative livelihoods in the East African country must be addressed if gains were to be sustained.
“Without the continued deterrence support provided by the international naval presence and self-protection measures adopted by the shipping industry, large-scale piracy could return,” Pirates were still capturing vessels for ransom. “We should not only ask what more needs to be done to ensure that the scourge does not return”, he said, “but also what kind of support could be provided to Somalia so the country is able to respond to the threat without depending on the continuous support of international navies.” Indeed, piracy was a sign of a political problem, requiring a political solution. State collapse was at its root. Security efforts could mitigate the impacts but did not address the underlying causes.
October 6, 2014
In a new analytic paper Dr. Anja P. Jakobi reflects on the CGPCS by contrasting the group with other mechanisms of global crime governance. She argues that the Contact Group represents a recently emerging type of organization. In particular the local focus of the group has helped bringing together a variety of actors and multiple levels to deliver solutions to a global policy problem. In consequences, she suggests that the model of the Contact Group would be less successful, in cases where the criminal activity is more wide-spread and more conflicting interests and veto-players would needed to be moderated. Taken together, the Contact Group has its main strengths in implementation and delegation, less so in finding compromise across hugely disparate political camps.
October 6, 2014
In the newest edition of the “In conversation..” series, Dr. Marcus Houben, Head of the Support Team of the EU 2014 chairmanship of the CGPCS, discusses how he got first involved in the work of WG1 and contrasts the work of WG1 and WG 2. He tells the history of the Capacity Building Coordination Group and why the CGPCS was instrumental to coordinate the European Union internally. He develops an understanding of the CGPCS as a mean to put different puzzle pieces together. In the second part of the conversation he outlines what type of work is involved in the chairmanship of the group and what challenges lie ahead in order to transfer the work of the group to the region. The interview took place at EEAS offices in Brussels, 18th September 2014 and the full interview will be available soon.
September 25, 2014
In the latest addition to the “In conversation…” series of the Lessons Learned Project, we have spoken with Phil Holihead, head of the Project Implementation Unit of the Djibouti Code of Conduct of the International Maritime Organization. In the conversation he lays out some of the lessons from piracy from the perspective of an implementation agency. He underlines the importance of the CGPCS for networking and identifying collaborative projects. Holihead stresses that the emphasis of the CGPCs work has to be put on implementation, delivering, or “doing” as he puts it. There is a continuous risk that meetings of the Contact Group become talk shops, not the least because too many different actors and agendas are combined in some of the formats. Holihead moreover outlines how important the relationship between containment and capacity building is, and that capacity building should focus on the broader long-term perspective. He also lays out how the international community should react to future outbreaks of piracy and stresses the importance of taking a long term and preventive perspective. The interview took place at IMO Headquarters, 9th September 2014. The full interview is available here.
September 20, 2014
Members of the Lessons Learned Consortium met with the current chairman of the Contact Group on the 18.9. at the EEAS Headquarters in Brussels to discuss the initial outcomes of the project and ponder about the consequences for the future of the group and how the lessons might inform other policy areas stretching from maritime security more broadly to other security challenges. The forthcoming counter-piracy week and the UAE counter-piracy conference were also discussed.
August 27, 2014
The Lessons Learned Project is delighted to announce the publication of its latest lessons learned paper, Maritime Capacity Building and the CBCG. Lessons from Security Sector Reform, by Professor Tim Edmunds, Professor in International Security and the Director of the Global Insecurities at the University of Bristol. In this paper, Professor Edmunds notes that Security sector reform (SSR) has become an important component of international peacebuilding, stabilisation and democratisation efforts since 2000. However, and until recently, its impact on the maritime sector has been limited. This paper explores the lessons learned from past or ‘mainstream’ SSR initiatives, and considers their relevance for maritime capacity building and the Capacity Building Coordination Group (CBCG) of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS). It argues that the maritime sector presents some novel challenges to the SSR project, including the transnational nature of the maritime security environment, its jurisdictional and organisational complexity, and the often fragmented nature of the political communities in which it is conducted. Even so, it argues that important lessons can be learned from SSR experiences elsewhere.These include the importance and meaning of local ownership, the inherently political nature of the reform process itself, the dangers of externally-driven and overly technocratic responses, and the consequent need to work with rather than against local governance structures and practices.
Edmunds concludes that if MSSR (Maritime Security Sector Reform) is to be sustainable in the longer term and if it is to successfully address root causes of maritime security challenges, then the following recommendations should be considered:
- Given the close links between maritime and on land insecurity, MSSR should focus on land-based, as well as strictly maritime, issues in order to reach its objectives.
- While notions of ‘best practice’ are important, (M)SSR should avoid a rigid top-down approach to action in complex local environments. Rather, best practice should should be considered in terms of general principles.
- Rather than seeing (M)SSR as a guide to policy in and of itself, it should instead be conceptualised as a framework through which security reforms can be planned and coordinated.
- Local context is key. Where possible external donors should engage meaningfully with local knowledge and actors in determining the scope of the MSSR challenge at hand.
- Generally speaking, positive incentives play a powerful role in securing reform. Such incentives should be considered in line with local contexts.
- Beware the fallacy of ‘political will’, this masks real problems of politics which should be understood and addressed in their own right.
- Consider who the winners and losers of SSR will be. How can losers be incentivised and the range or winners be broadened?
- The value of civilian capacities to (M)SSR should not be underestimated.
Ultimately, Prof. Edmunds’ paper argues for an adaptive, politically sensitive and problem-driven approach to Maritime SSR, and warns against the adoption of formulaic models of ‘best practice’, imposed from outside.
The full paper can be accessed via this link: Maritime Security Sector Reform
August 10, 2014
The CGPCS is an important case for International Relations scholars to understand the changes in current global governance and the trend towards informal security governance. Discussing the CGPCS in this light was the objective of an academic roundtable at the conference of the World International Studies Committee held in Frankfurt, 6-9.8.2014. The roundtable featured Dr. Marcus Houben, head of the support team of the EU chairmanship of the CGPCS, Dr. Conor Seyle from Oceans Beyond PIracy, Kerstin Petretto, IFSH Hamburg, and Dr. Christian Bueger, Cardiff University. Being part of the panel series on maritime security studies, the roundtable attracted a large audience of scholars and significant interest in further studying the CGPCS, its mode of working and its achievements in curbing piracy.
August 1, 2014
The lessons learned project is delighted to today publish a new working paper, Dimensions of Legitimacy: Evaluating the Contact Group, by Professor William Smith an Associate Professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
This paper explores the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia from the perspective of its claims to legitimacy. Legitimacy is associated with those properties of an organization that render it an authoritative source of rules, decisions, or recommendations. The paper explores the following three questions: (1) Is the concept of legitimacy relevant to the Contact Group? (2) Which properties should we look at to measure its legitimacy? (3) Are any reforms necessary to enhance its claims to legitimacy?
The paper concludes that the Contact Group has significant achievements as a governance body, but identifies several shortcomings that should be addressed to enhance its legitimacy claims. In particular, the paper delineates three core areas where the Contact Group could enhance its legitimacy:
1) Stakeholder Participation: Despite achieving broad-based stakeholder inclusion, the paper asks if more could be done to level the playing-field, in terms of influence and resources, between actors. One suggestion is that the Trust Fund could be used to enhance participation and inclusivity for ‘resource-challenged countries’
2) Comparative Benefit: While the paper acknowledges that the Contact Group has won the wide-spread acceptance of many stakeholders and related agencies, it nevertheless asks whether more could be done to allay the fears of some critics that its focus on containment has redirected attention and resources away from the task of prevention?
3) Deliberative reflection: The Contact Group has an impressive range of achievements, but can it do more to engage with external critics with a view to refining its methods and improving its performance? In particular, it could work more closely with certain civil society groups, policy-makers, or academics, through inviting greater scrutiny and reflection on Contact Group activities.
The full paper is available via the following link: Dimensions of Legitimacy: Evaluating the Contact Group
July 8, 2014
In this interview Donna Hopkins, former chairman and one of the original initiators of the CGPCS discusses her experience with the group. She outlines how meetings are prepared and staged, provides advice for junior diplomats of how to prepare and act in such an informal setting and reflects on controversies and tensions in the group, as well as its institutional set up. The interview documents what significant work and resources are required to make the CGPCS work. The interview was conducted during a visit of Mrs. Donna Hopkins to Cardiff University, 15th of April 2014.
Please find the full interview here.
June 30, 2014
What are the lessons from the work of the CGPCS for maritime security more broadly? This was one of the questions discussed in an Ideaslab at Cardiff University, organized by the Counter-Piracy Governance Project and piracy-studies.org. The Ideaslab included inputs and presentations from scholars from different disciplines, including international law, geography, sociology and strategic studies, as well as from the UK’s Royal Navy. It became clear during the discussion that to some degree Somali piracy is paradigmatic of the maritime security challenges more broadly. Many similar problems exist: How to share information efficiently, how to ensure cooperation and build transnational communities, and how to build capacity. It is here where the CGPCS experience provides major lessons for maritime security, not only in Africa, but also in Europe and the UK.
June 20, 2014
The Friedrich Ebert Foundation organized a seminar on “African Approaches to Maritime Security: The AU and Continental Perspective” from June 16th to 17th. The workshop brought together a range of African maritime security scholars and policy analysts to evaluate the state of maritime security on the continent and to identify priorities for implementing the new African maritime security strategies and projects such as the Djibouti or the Yaounde Code of Conduct. The LLC participated in the event and outlined the lessons from counter-piracy and how they can inform the implementation of the maritime security strategies. What became clear during the event is that Africa requires a network of maritime security experts, similar to the expert networks that the CGPCS working groups created and maintained.
June 5, 2014
What is the role of technology in the fight against piracy. At a workshop organized in collaboration between the LLC and the Centre for the Resolution of International Conflict, and the Copenhagen Business School, the lessons that can be learned from the role of technology in the fight against piracy were discussed. A detailed workshop summary is available here.
June 4, 2014
The Hostage Support Programme, managed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, has issued a paper drawing upon the Programme’s work in supporting the victims of piracy off the coast of Somalia. The report identifies three key areas for the lessons learned project:
- The Authority for actors to negotiate with pirates
- Flexibility of funding for hostage support programmes
- The need to provide follow up services to the victims of piracy.
A copy of the Hostage Support Programme’s report is available here: Hostage Support Programme – Lessons Learned Report 14 Apr 14
May 9, 2014
As part of the 16th CGPCS plenary in New York an offside event will be held on the 15th of May that focuses on lessons learned, specifically in regard to the role of the business community. Also the first insights from the LLP will be discussed.
May 8, 2014
- Attacks carried out by Somalia-based pirates have continued their multi-year decline with only 23 vessels attacked in 2013. However, regional seafarers in East Africa continue to be at high risk of attack.
- The international community spent an estimated $139.1 million to deter each attack that took place in 2013.
- Despite this, concerns are raised about the long-term sustainability of counter-piracy initiatives. While investments in capacity-building initiatives have, for example, increased, they still only account for 1.5% of the total cost (up from 0.5% in 2012).
- Moving only a small fraction of the costs and resources spent on counter-piracy from suppression to capacity building “is more likely to have a lasting impact” and “is the only way that the international community will meet their goal of zero attacks and zero hostages.”
April 25, 2014
Donna Hopkins, former Chairman of the CGPCS visited Cardiff University on April 25th to discuss the first outcomes of the LLP. Mrs. Hopkins met with the Cardiff based project team as well as a range of students researching counter-piracy and provided strategic advice on the project. Specific core lessons that were discussed, included the role of the chairmen in the CGPCS structure and the inclusivity of the plenary and working group meetings.
January 15, 2014
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the principal global trade association for shipowners, has issued a paper drawing upon the international shipping industry’s experience of Somali-based piracy during the period 2007 to 2013.
“The intention is to identify lessons learned in order to shape future policy responses, wherever in the world they might be needed,” explained ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe.
Further information on the ICS contribution is available here.