U.N. Calls for Another Year of Counter-Piracy Naval Operations Off Somalia

EU NAVFOR counter-piracy patrol conducts a friendly approach on a number of Somali fishermen not far from the coast. Photo: EU NAVFOR
EU NAVFOR counter-piracy patrol conducts a friendly approach on a number of Somali fishermen not far from the coast. Photo: EU NAVFOR

The United Nations is calling for another year of international naval operations to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia more than three years since the last commercial vessel was hijacked in the region.

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday unanimously adopted a resolution renewing for another year its authorization for international naval forces to join in fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia, stressing that while the threat of such crime had declined, it still remained a matter of grave concern.

According to EU NAVFOR, by January 2011 there were 736 seafarers and 32 vessels were being held for ransom by Somali pirates, but the number has now dropped to zero hostages and zero vessels held due to naval patrols and the use of armed security teams on board ships. 

With the adoption of resolution 2316 (2016), the Security Council renewed the call to nations and regional organizations to cooperate in deploying naval vessels and military aircraft, by providing logistical support, and by seizing and disposing of boats, arms and related equipment reasonably suspected to be used in piracy and armed robbery in the area. 

Acknowledging a steady decline in attacks since 2011, the Council commended the contributions of the European Union’s Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) Operation ATALANTA, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Operation Ocean Shield, the Combined Maritime Forces’ Combined Task Force 151, the African Union and the Southern Africa Development Community, as well as individual States for naval counter-piracy missions and protecting ships transiting through the region.

The Council also recognized the continued need for national legislative action, noting the continuing gap in domestic capacity and legal framework for the detention and prosecution of suspected pirates and those who profited from the crimes. It also expressed serious concern over reports of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Somalia’s exclusive economic zone and, noting a complex relationship between such activity and piracy, recognized that it accounted for millions in lost revenue for the country and could contribute to destabilization of coastal communities.

The call from the UN comes after Somali pirates carried out their first attack on a commercial vessel in two and half years. The attack occurred Oct. 22 when a group of six armed pirates chased UK-flagged chemical tanker approximately 330 nautical miles off the east coast of Somali. The attack was ultimately deterred by the ship’s embarked security team.

The full text of resolution 2316 (2016) can be found HERE.