The UN Security Council on Dec. 3 adopted a resolution to combat the continuing threat of piracy off the coast of Somalia, as measures to keep vessels safe have returned to levels not seen since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Security Council adopted Resolution 2608, which, among other things, condemns piracy and armed robbery at sea off the Somali coast, underscoring that it exacerbates instability by introducing “illicit cash that fuels crime, corruption and terrorism.”
However, the resolution only provides for a three-month extension for an existing program that allows international naval forces to fight piracy off Somalia’s coast.
Although the resolution, which was drafted by the United States, was approved unanimously by the 15-member body, France stated that the extension was too short to allow a European-led counter-piracy operation near the Horn of Africa to function properly and risked creating a “security vacuum.”
The approval comes following the U.N. Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in Somalia, which states that joint counter-piracy efforts have resulted in a steady decline in attacks and hijackings since 2011.
But, although piracy off the coast of Somalia has been “repressed,” the ongoing threat of resurgence remains, according to the U.N., which lead to the resolution being brought forth under Chapter VII of the organization’s charter, which provides for enforcement action.
In the resolution, the U.N. said that investigations and prosecutions must continue for all who “plan, organize, illicitly finance or profit from pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia.”
Additionally, it calls for Somali authorities to put in place mechanisms to safely return items seized by pirates, and to patrol the coastal waters to prevent and suppress future acts of armed robbery at sea. They were also asked to bring to justice those using Somali territory to “plan, facilitate, or undertake criminal acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.”
At the request of the Somali authorities, U.N. member states were asked to strengthen maritime capacity in the country and to appropriately cooperate on prosecuting suspected pirates for taking hostages.
Through the resolution, the Security Council called upon member countries to “take appropriate actions…to prevent the illicit financing of acts of piracy and the laundering of its proceeds … [and] to criminalize piracy under their domestic law.”