Shipping industry wants “UN Force of Armed Military Guards” to replace private security firms on ships

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A “Round Table” of international shipping associations including ICS, BIMCO, INTERTANKO and INTERCARGO has urged the UN to establish a “UN Force of Armed Military Guards” to replace unregulated privately-contracted armed security personnel deployed onboard individual merchant ships traveling in piracy-prone areas of the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.  The plea was made in a “hard hitting” letter sent Sunday to UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon.

The press release issued by the “Round Table” can be read below:

The global shipping industry has called for the establishment of a United Nations force of armed military guards to tackle the piracy crisis in the Indian Ocean, which it says is spiraling out of control.

In a hard hitting letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), BIMCO, INTERTANKO and INTERCARGO demand a “bold new strategy” to curb rising levels of piracy which have resulted in the Indian Ocean resembling “the wild west”.

The letter states: “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. To be candid, the current approach is not working.”

Regretting the increasing necessity for shipping companies to employ private armed guards to protect crew and ships, the letter continues: “It seems inevitable that lawlessness ashore in Somalia will continue to breed lawlessness at sea.”

The shipping industry organizations – which represent more than 90% of the world merchant fleet – say they fully support the UN’s long-term measures on shore aimed at helping the Somali people but are concerned that these “may take years, if not decades, to have a meaningful impact on piracy.”

Asking the UN to bring the concept of a UN force of armed military guards to the attention of its Security Council, the letter says: “The shipping industry believes that the situation can only be reversed with a bold approach that targets the problem in manageable pieces. We believe that an important element in this approach would be the establishment of a UN Force of Armed Military Guards that can be deployed in small numbers onboard merchant ships. This would be an innovative force in terms of UN peacekeeping activity but it would do much to stabilize the situation, to restrict the growth of unregulated, privately contracted armed security personnel and to allow those UN Member States lacking maritime forces – including those in the region most immediately affected – to make a meaningful contribution in the area of counter-piracy.”

The letter can be downloaded in its entirety HERE.