Maritime piracy creating a security challenge for global trade

Over the last decade, incidents of maritime piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea have reached high levels.

This has created a strategic challenge for the security of global trade and a threat to maritime activity in this important part of the world, Dr. Jamal Sanad Al-Suwaidi, Director General of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), said in the welcome remarks to the international symposium entitled: ‘The Challenges of Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea’ held on Tuesday.

He also observed: “The risks of such crimes taking place are exacerbated by links to organizations involved in international terrorism. Undoubtedly, the volume of global trade that passes through the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea makes this region an indispensable economic artery and maritime corridor for world security and stability.”

The event was organised by the ECSSR in cooperation with the Yemen International Affairs Center (YIAC) and attended by a group of diplomats and strategists specialising in international law and maritime, and counter-terrorism experts.

Stressing the role of the United Arab Emirates in combating piracy, Dr. Al-Suwaidi stated: “The UAE has shown a clear interest in tackling maritime piracy and has introduced over the past years several initiatives that have received regional and international response and have achieved positive results. In addition, the UAE has hosted several international conferences that have discussed the effects and spread of the phenomenon of piracy in this region and has examined ways to address it. These actions embody the UAE’s determination to be at the forefront of any effort or international action to confront maritime piracy and its refusal to succumb to any criminal blackmail.

He added: “In response to maritime piracy activities in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea, the UAE is following a two-track approach. On the one hand it provides support for international efforts to confront maritime piracy gangs and on the other hand it supports political ties aimed at enabling the Somali state to control its territory. The UAE is convinced that piracy is a result of instability and the absence of the rule of law, which creates an environment conducive to the spread of such criminal activity.”

Dr. Al-Suwaidi emphasized that, “despite declining rates of maritime piracy in recent times in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea, it is still necessary to maintain international efforts to combat and stamp out piracy in the region. Therefore, development plans for Somalia to address poverty, unemployment and the provision of a decent livelihood for its people, would be the longer-term guarantee against the phenomenon of piracy that threatens security and stability.”

Dr. Ahmed Salem Al-Wahishi, Director of Yemen International Affairs Center (YIAC), Republic of Yemen, also addressed the meeting.

Distinguished officials and experts from around the world enlightened the participants at the symposium, which was divided into three panels.

Panel I of the Symposium was entitled ‘Political, Economic and Social Background of Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.’ At the beginning of this Panel, a speech was delivered on behalf of James A. Larocco, Director of Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies (NESA), United States of America. The speech shed light on ‘The Background and Scale of Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.’ Thereafter, Dr. Martin N. Murphy, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council of the United States enlightened the participants on ‘Global Initiative Options for International Navigation Security in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.’

Panel II of the Symposium covered the important subject of ‘International Law and Piracy.’ Dr. Ahmed Salem Al-Wahishi delved into a crucial aspect of the subject: ‘A Legal Approach to Piracy in the Gulf of Aden.’ The second presentation for the panel was made by Dr. Robin Warner, Associate Professor at the Australian National Center for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), University of Wollongong, Australia entitled: ‘The Prosecution of Pirates in National Courts.’

The symposium concluded with the presentations of Panel III, which shed light on the topic: ‘Piracy Security Risks at the Middle Eastern and Global Levels.’

Colonel Mahmoud Al-Zarooni of the Naval Forces, United Arab Emirates, and Dr. Mohammed Gamil Mohammed, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Aden, underscored ‘The necessity of formulating an Arab approach toward challenges over maritime navigation.’ Subsequently, Dr. Vijay Sakhuja, Director (Research) Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), Republic of India shed light on the topic: ‘The Indian Ocean Forum: An Important Framework for the Security of Maritime Navigation.


Original Article