Ambassador Bukun Onemola
Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations
August 25, 2010
Let me begin by thanking you, Mr. President, for convening this debate. I should also like to commend the Secretary-General for producing a very comprehensive report (S/2010/394) within a short space of time, pursuant to resolution 1918 (2010). The report has provided the Council with a detailed analytical account of the social, economic and legal implications of the options for dealing with piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia.
Let me also thank Under-Secretary-General O’Brien for her opening remarks, which provided further insights on the seven options proposed in the Secretary-General’s report. I also thank the Permanent Representative of Somalia for his comments. We join earlier speakers in welcoming the new Ambassador of Japan.
We condemn the attack on the Mona hotel, which led to deaths and injuries. Our condolences and sympathies go to the victims of the attack and to the Transitional Federal Government.
The phenomenon of piracy is a symptom of a wider set of problems and challenges affectingSomalia — a country besieged with insecurity, a fragile government structure and a dire shortage of resources. Somalia presents fertile ground for criminality to thrive. Despite the best efforts of the Transitional Federal Government and all of its partners, the country continues to reel under the weight of multiple debilitating challenges.
We commend the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, the African Union Mission in Somalia, the European Union’s Operation Atalanta to combat piracy, NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield, the United States Combined Task Force 151, the Monitoring Group on Somalia and the counter-piracy missions of China, India, Japan and the Russian Federation, among other countries, for their efforts to combat the piracy scourge off the coast of Somalia. Together, they have significantly helped to reduce both the frequency and rate of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa.
While such concerted efforts are praiseworthy, the scourge of piracy has not been eliminated, nor have its consequences on the Somali people and the international community been contained. Indeed, this month, pirates seized the MV Syria Star, with its sugar cargo, and the MV Suez cargo ship in the recommended shipping lane, both in the Gulf of Aden.
The extended geographical reach and increased sophistication of the attacks demonstrate that more must be done to effectively combat piracy. In this situation, integrated preventive interventions are necessary to address the root causes of poverty and the conditions that fuel piracy. We recognize that unemployment and economic disenfranchisement transform piracy into an alluring economic alternative in the minds of many young Somali men. The international community must therefore join hands to reverse this ruinous trend and provide viable entry points to self-sufficiency and dignity. In our view, this battle must be fought on multiple fronts. In addition to rebuilding and rehabilitating Somalia’s administrative, economic and social structures, efforts must also continue to re-establish the rule of law, end impunity and establish effective policy and judicial mechanisms to apprehend these criminals and bring them to justice.
On the judicial and penal question, the Secretary- General’s report has suggested seven options for consideration. While the current structure to combat piracy via national prosecutions by Somalia, Kenya and the Seychelles has borne fruit, there are, however, resource limitations. We note with concern that in a number of instances suspects have been released by patrolling naval States, due to the failure to find a State willing to accept the transfer of suspects for trial. In the light of that, we call for additional adjudication options to alleviate the pressure on existing judicial centres, which have shown tremendous leadership in prosecuting and incarcerating pirates.
Considering the various options proposed by the Secretary-General, we are of the opinion that, while it could be an ideal outcome in terms of ownership and participation, the establishment of a court of Somali jurisdiction in a foreign territory must remain a longterm rather than an immediate goal, given the fragmented nature of Somalia’s legislative and criminal procedural framework. Instead, the United Nations should play an active role, as a matter of priority, to deal with a truly international problem. We believe that United Nations participation is key to ensuring that any judicial or penal process will be conducted in accordance with international standards. In addition, such participation will ensure burden-sharing by the international community, given the global reach of the problem. As we explore options, we should consolidate international cooperation as a first step to increase efficiency in addressing recurring juridical problems associated with the investigation, transfer and trial of suspects, as highlighted on page 19 of the report.
In the immediate term, we suggest that efforts should continue to build a broader coalition of the willing to share responsibility for prosecuting piracy suspects in the manner of Kenya and the Seychelles. In that regard, we are encouraged by the news that the United Republic of Tanzania, Mauritius and the Maldives are also considering undertaking such prosecutions. We hope that other regional Powers and States further afield will be persuaded to take similar steps.
A long-term solution still eludes us. We need a deeper understanding of the elements of the problems that remain to ensure a response that is commensurate with the task at hand. While an international tribunal is a sound idea in principle, there are serious questions of funding, forum and jurisdiction to be addressed. Furthermore, we must seek to achieve a solution that is sufficient and effective. Specifically, we propose that these measures should incorporate United Nations participation, collective burden-sharing in trial and detention and timely implementation.
In the final analysis, we believe that each of the Secretary-General’s last four options offers the promise of a more comprehensive judicial framework dedicated to prosecuting these crimes. Although all depend on agreement by the host States, we are convinced that the assured participation of the United Nations will send a strong message of unity and collective reserve to deal with those who violate the law of the sea through piracy.
Detailed consideration of costs and funding sources remains to be undertaken. We trust that, with sufficient political will and commitment, agreement can be reached on a centralized structure to effectively address these acts of criminality and put an end to the culture of impunity that has arisen in the waters off the coast of Somalia and, by so doing, contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security.
Nigeria supports the presidential statement read out by the President earlier this morning.