We aim to defeat piracy and crime by recognising how they operate at ground level, Yury Fedotov, executive director, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, tells IHS Maritime
Conventional counter-piracy activities are often focused on national navies pursuing pirate ships on the high seas, but other action is being taken to stop the pirates.
One key lesson from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime‚Äôs (UNODC‚Äôs) Counter-Piracy Programme (CPP) is that pirate attacks can be halted by promoting maritime law enforcement powers while also building capacity in basic maritime law enforcement processes.
Work on dry land is equally important to securing overall success: catching pirates means having the right laws, the right policies, and the right procedures in place. Such an approach is also governed by international law and operates in line with human rights.
Our recently launched East Africa and Indian Ocean Maritime Crime Programme (MCP) does exactly this by expanding on our earlier and continuing CPP.
In following this path we are building closer connections with a wide range of UNODC expertise in other areas, including our Container Control Programme, which is co-managed with the World Customs Organization, and the new transnational organized crime at sea project.
This building of connectivity between our programmes acknowledges the interconnected and interdependent nature of crime, including piracy. In short, we are working to defeat piracy and crime by recognising how they operate at ground level.
This evolution has been carefully planned and benefits from a detailed evaluation of the successes achieved under the CPP. Counter-piracy will continue to be at the core of the new MCP but we are now using our teams, networks, and expertise to assist states in the broader fight against maritime crime.
The MCP is also transferring knowledge gained from the CPP into other areas where nations have¬†requested support against maritime crimes. Our first priority is to take the experience of the MCP to enhance our work in the Gulf of Guinea. This work has already begun, and UNODC will hold a major training, planning, and fact-finding workshop in the region at the end of this year.
Admittedly, piracy on the high seas is a specialised and serious crime. According to UNODC and the¬†World Bank, pirates received up to $413M in ransoms between 2005 and 2012. That is an alarming figure, and, while attacks on shipping have decreased recently, piracy remains an issue of concern for the international community.
UNODC‚Äôs experience, built over many years, is twofold: first, to help nations build capacity in their law enforcement activities; and second, to provide technical advice on aligning international and local legislation to successfully roll up the criminal networks and prosecute the criminals.
The move from the CPP to the MCP is part of our relationship with nations on piracy and crime issues and offers UNODC a welcome opportunity to learn from the past to help secure and protect the future.
UN broadens counter-piracy offensive: this comment piece¬†was published in Fairplay magazine and online on 26 September 2013, visit¬†http://www.sea-web.com