Ship industry urges U.N. to create anti-piracy force

Posted: 09/10/2011 in all marine news

Jonathan Saul –

Shipping industry groups have urged the United Nations to create an armed military force to be deployed on vessels to combat Somali piracy, describing the escalating crisis in the Indian Ocean as being like the “wild West”.

The piracy is costing the world economy billions of dollars a year and international navies have struggled to combat the menace, especially in the Indian Ocean, due to the vast distances involved.

The shipping industry, some of whose members already employ private guards, says better armed and increasingly violent seaborne gangs pose a growing threat to vital sea lanes.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent last month and published on Friday, the world’s four international shipping associations said hundreds of seafarers were being held hostage and 60 merchant mariners had died already due to piracy.

“It is now abundantly clear to shipping companies that the current situation, whereby control of the Indian Ocean has been ceded to pirates, requires a bold new strategy,” they said.

“Rather than meeting their obligations under the U.N. convention on the law of the sea, governments have allowed the Indian Ocean to resemble the ‘wild West’.”

While naval patrols, including vessels from the European Union, the United States and other nations such as South Korea, Iran and Turkey, have curbed the number of attacks in the Gulf of Aden, piracy in the Indian Ocean has continued to rise.

The four associations, the International Chamber of Shipping, BIMCO, Intercargo and INTERTANKO, which represent the majority of the world’s ship owners, said the situation could only be reversed with a different approach to supplement long term development work in Somalia.

“We believe that an important element in this approach would be the establishment of a U.N. force of armed military guards that can be deployed in small numbers onboard merchant ships.”

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