Prof. U. Joy Ogwu
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations
New York, NY
21 June, 2011
I also want to thank Under-Secretary-General O’Brien for her insightful and comprehensive briefing on the Secretary-General’s report (S/2011/360).
The Secretary-General’s report does not just paint a vivid picture of the challenges in the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia. It also profiles a range of options to address the threat with a renewed sense of urgency. Nigeria shares this sense of urgency, including with regard to the need for swift action, considering the devastating impact of piracy on Somalia, the Horn of Africa and especially international trade. We share the Special Adviser’s basic premise that convergent comprehensive measures are required to co-opt the menace, in particular the establishment of a legal regime to prosecute piracy cases. We believe that such a regime should be anchored in internationally supported, Somali-led objectives and national ownership.
Nigeria supports the measures the Secretary General has outlined in the report to engender global cooperation in the fight against piracy. We believe that overcoming the jurisdictional, legislative and constitutional challenges to multinational prosecution of piracy cases requires international cooperation. Mindful of the significant investment required, we welcome the Special Adviser’s estimated timeline of two to three years for developing the requisite national and regional legal regime and infrastructure to combat piracy. The depth of talent and ability within the Somali diaspora should be explored to augment local capacity and build a robust extraterritorial legal system. Nigeria views broad-based regional criminalization of piracy and the establishment of specialized piracy courts within Somalia and the region as imperative in the fight against piracy. To foster regional cooperation, we support enhanced coordination and information sharing among the private sector, law enforcement agencies and relevant international and regional organizations. Indeed, we support the strengthening of anti-money-laundering capabilities in the region.
As significant as these counter-piracy measures are, they will require a determined, cohesive government to steer their implementation. With the Al-Shabaab-driven insurgency and the incessant wrangling plaguing the leadership of the Transitional Federal Institutions, piracy has not yet received the desired robust response from the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Stabilizing Somalia’s political environment is therefore a prerequisite to a comprehensive and enduring counter-piracy action.
As expressed in resolution 1976 (2011), Somali authorities should assume the responsibility of creating clear political and economic alternatives to piracy. Reviving Somalia’s domestic industry is in consonance with the Special Adviser’s suggested cluster of measures for preventing piracy. The TFG institutions should now begin the process of building consensus on national goals around the Kampala accord, following the resignation of Prime Minister Mohamed. We encourage parliament to revise Somalia’s law to provide a sound criminal and procedural basis for prosecutions. States in the region should also take similar actions under their domestic laws, in accordance with resolution 1918 (2010).
Considering the negative effects of illegal fishing and maritime pollution, Nigeria remains unwavering in its support of the Special Adviser’s recommendation on the establishment of an independent committee to investigate allegations of illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste in Somali waters. We also renew our call for generous contributions to the trust fund for this purpose.
With regard to the appropriate reach of an extraterritorial court, our view is that it is primarily a jurisdictional issue. Nigeria has always viewed piracy as a crime of international jurisdiction. Therefore, pirates may be prosecuted by any regional court of sufficient competence within Somalia and the region. However, given the necessary challenges to managing a regional court, we believe that such a forum should be reserved for high-profile cases of regional significance.