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18 November 2009 - Security Council: Somalia - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(translation of statement made in French)

I should like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Mr. Ould Abdallah, for his briefing and for the work he is doing in Somalia.

The pirates are still a threat, first of all to the people of Somalia, since half of all Somalis are now dependent on international aid, and virtually all of this aid reaches Somalia by sea. The pirates are also a threat to the troops of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), as their supplies, again, essentially come by sea. Lastly, they imperil international shipping off the coast of Somalia, one of the most dense shipping areas in the world. Many of the previous speakers have indicated that the deep-rooted causes of piracy are to be sought on land, and that the insecurity prevailing after more than 20 years of conflict, the lack of a State, the absence of legal economic possibilities and the actions of criminal groups have created the conditions that have led to the appearance of piracy. We are all in agreement that security and development will in the long term prevail. In the short term, however, resolute action by the international community is essential in order to limit the effects of piracy. Any slackening in our endeavours would have immediate consequences. France notes that during the two months in two years when the World Food Programme (WFP) received no protection for its ships, it had to cut its shipments by 50 per cent, to the detriment of the civilian population.

In his report (S/2009/590) the Secretary-General described the various efforts being deployed by the international community. Through Operation Atalanta, the European Union is playing an essential role here, and regional organizations and national partners, such as the Russian Federation, China and Japan, are also involved in these activities. France is playing an active role through Operation Atalanta as well as in its national capacity.

In parallel, we have been able to improve coordination. The Contact Group on Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia, with 45 States members, is playing an essential role in making political, legal and military progress. The Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) mechanism in the framework of the Contact Group’s Working Group 1 is enhancing the exchange of operational information with a view to working together more effectively.

We have come along way since the first operations to protect World Food Programme (WFP) vessels, in November 2007. Our efforts are beginning to bear fruit. The report of the Secretary-General (S/2009/590) indicates that while the number of attacks remains high, a large proportion of them are foiled thanks to the international presence.

The European Union has committed itself to continuing Operation Atalanta, deployed in December 2008, at least through December 2010. In that way, it will continue to provide protection to WFP vessels and provide resolute support to other vulnerable vessels, including those chartered by the United Nations in order to supply the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). This poses a particularly significant challenge, as 80 per cent of those convoys have come under attack in the past.

Operation Atalanta and the countries of the European Union will be considering the expanded sphere of operation of the pirates in the Indian Ocean. France has provided assistance to Seychelles, and the European Union has signed an anti-piracy agreement with Seychelles, which will make it possible for pirates apprehended by Operation Atalanta to be transferred to Seychelles. Clearly, I support the statement to be made by the representative of Sweden on behalf of the European Union presidency.

As we pursuing our efforts we must retain the legal framework of our activities and extend resolutions 1846 (2008) and 1851 (2008) for a further year, which authorize participating countries, under strict conditions, to enter Somali territorial waters and take action against pirates. I am grateful to the delegation of the United States for its draft resolution and trust that the Council will adopt it in the coming days.

Effective action also requires diversification, and we have begun to do that. Beyond the military aspects, it is essential that we improve legal redress for acts of piracy, as mentioned by the representative of the Russian Federation. In the near future, the international community must provide material assistance to Somalia and other countries of the region to enable them to apprehend, prosecute and punish pirates. Here, France commends Kenya’s endeavours in that regard and supports the trust fund that the Contact Group decided on 10 September to establish, to which we shall be making a contribution. We also encourage all States to amend their legislation to make it possible to try acts of piracy within their jurisdictions.

Finally, we must continue to address more directly the root causes of piracy. The European Union has begun to consider this and has indicated its willingness to provide enhanced support to the Transitional Federal Government, for instance, in combating illegal fishing. We must continue such efforts, while ensuring that naval forces combating piracy off the coast of Somalia are not faced with tasks that are too numerous, too diverse or too far from their mission.

The true significance of Security Council action off the coast of Somalia is seen when we consider the Council’s comprehensive strategy for that country. Provisions adopted by the Council include support for the Transitional Federal Government, resolute support for AMISOM, including the use of United Nations resources, and a sanctions regime that has been renewed and enhanced by resolution 1844 (2008). We still must make progress on all those fronts. France wishes in particular to see the pirates and their supporters punished as individuals.

I wish in conclusion to note that the Security Council was innovative in adopting resolution 1816 (2008) on 2 June 2008, with the aim of combating piracy off the coast of Somalia. The international community has been able to make use of the new tools that the Council has provided through its resolutions. International mobilization is strikingly broad and is complemented by the development, through the Contact Group, of a new framework for cooperation, in close association with the United Nations Secretariat. This encourages us that the Council will continue its work in Somalia, beyond the issue of piracy, in the framework of a specific and pragmatic strategy.

Once again, I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for helping ensure that the international community takes consistent action on Somalia. I assure him of our full support.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU