21 June 2011 - Security Council - Somalia - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Nearly five months ago, the Security Council met to listen to the report of the Special Adviser of the Secretary- General on Piracy, Mr. Jack Lang (see S/PV.6473). The overall feeling then was one of urgency. More recently still, in a message of 18 April, the Secretary-General underscored that piracy was rapidly growing and that the scale of the phenomenon seemed to be overtaking the efforts being implemented by the international community to overcome it.
I will make two comments today. First of all, the diagnosis has not changed. By adopting resolution 1918 (2010), the Council noted that the absence of legal solutions encouraged the pirates’ impunity and only increased the scourge of piracy. Since then, that situation has only deteriorated.
The report before us (S/2011/360) notes that attacks off the Somali coast, their geographical range and the level of violence used have continued to increase. Since 1 January, there have been 177 attacks, of which 18 were successful. In May, pirates detained 26 boats and 601 hostages. Crews that are taken hostage are used as human shields. Recently, a Filipino sailor was executed. Four American citizens have been killed. According to estimates, there are about 50 pirate leaders, 300 group leaders and 2,500 carrying out the attacks. That being the case, 9 of 10 pirates are released owing to the lack of capacity of judicial and prison systems.
France once again thanks the States of the region for their efforts — Kenya, where the prosecution of 69 people is still ongoing; the Seychelles, which has 23 on trial; and Tanzania, which is prosecuting six. Their contributions must be acknowledged. However, it would be unfair to think that those countries could cope with the scale of the phenomenon. A new solution is necessary. We must show pragmatism.
My second comment is that we know the solution, and it is a Somali solution. In entrusting the drafting of the report to Jack Lang, the Secretary-General was proposing to the Security Council a formula that could provide a rapid and effective solution. Two months ago, the Council decided to urgently study the possibility of creating specialized Somali jurisdictions, including an extra-territorial Somali specialized court. The Council also requested a strengthening of the incarceration capacity in Somalia and a report by the Secretary-General on modalities for these initiatives, with a view to taking new decisions. What does the report tell us? First of all, that the legislative, penal and procedural framework in Somalia for fighting piracy is incoherent and out of date. Duly noted, but we must be proactive and try to adapt that framework.
With respect to the issue of jurisdiction in Somalia, the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will enable Puntland and Somaliland to try only "around 20 additional cases each per year" (S/2011/360, paragraph 10), but not for three more years. That is why we must set up specialized jurisdictions and not simply use what we have. Here also, the work has just begun.
Finally, with respect to incarceration, UNODC has the funds to build two new prisons, one in Somaliland and one in Puntland, with the capacity to hold 1,000 inmates, which, it is proposed, would be reserved for pirates convicted outside of Somalia. How can we deprive Somalia of the right to prosecute its own nationals? In addition, the two-year delay is too long. We therefore need to look, together with UNODC, at ways of shortening that time period. It is not a time to be discouraged, but a time to take action. In reading the report of the Secretary-General, I sometimes feel that the Secretariat is overwhelmed by the magnitude of the undertaking. This we understand, and we sympathize, but opportunities do exist. The report notes that there is a pool of international experts in the Somali diaspora who would be ready to participate in specialized jurisdictions, whether inside or outside Somalia. Creating an off-site Somali court, an idea that was supported by most of the speakers preceding me, would, of course, be feasible. We know, for example, where the court could be set up temporarily. Tanzania, whose commitment to this matter I welcome, expressed its readiness to host such a chamber in Arusha, on the site of the current International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The use of infrastructure from the Residual Mechanism of the ICTR to deal with piracy at the judicial level would be negligible in terms of cost. Also, more generally, establishing an off-site Somali court would be an easy solution. The court’s functioning would require an estimated $7.5 million over three years, or hardly more than $2.5 million per year. Above all, this cost is negligible in comparison with the overall global cost of piracy. If we add up the economic costs of this scourge and the cost of related military operations, piracy every year costs us between $7 billion and $12 billion.
The report notes the division among the Somali authorities. It is up to the members of the international community to make clear their expectations to the Somali authorities. We expect the Transitional Federal Government to shoulder its responsibilities in dealing with this threat, which the Council has called a threat to international peace and security. The proposed solution offers an opportunity to develop Somali judicial capacities with the assistance of the international community.
Among the important questions raised by the report concerning extraterritorial Somali jurisdiction, I would highlight that of the scope of jurisdiction. Should such a court investigate and prosecute those who finance and plan acts of piracy, or prosecute only those who carry them out? That is a good question. It is clear that preparing comprehensive files on those primarily responsible for such crimes would require international expertise — more so than in other cases. Could we consider a precursor group in Tanzania to deal with such questions? Such prospects must be investigated quickly and in a lasting manner in order to effectively strengthen Somali capacities. We must be creative and imaginative. It is clear that obstacles remain, and my delegation is the first to recognize them. But if we talk only about obstacles, we will not accomplish anything.
Over a year after the adoption of resolution 1918 (2010), it is time to act. We owe it to the sailors and users of the sea, who are on the front lines of the battle. The Secretary-General stated recently — and France shares his view — that their security and well-being should be our primary concern. We are ready to work with the members of the Council and with the Secretariat to move forward in a concrete and speedy manner.