Tallinn, 27 May 2012 - THE SOLUTION TO PIRACY IS CREATING BETTER CONDITIONS ON LAND, SAYS NATO PA REPORT
Despite the successes of international naval operations off the coast of Somalia, military means alone cannot tackle the problem of modern piracy, said a draft report debated by NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly on Sunday. In addition to maritime counterpiracy operations, more effort should be directed at resolving the weaknesses of states where the pirates are based, the report contends.
A comprehensive solution to piracy involves creating better conditions on land, particularly in the failed state of Somalia, says the draft report “The Challenge of Piracy: International Response and NATO’s Role”, presented by Dutch parliamentarian Raymond Knops to the Assembly’s Defence and Security Committee.
A longterm approach to the piracy problem would involve nation building, regional engagement and socio-economic support, said Rear Admiral Hank Ort, Chief of Staff at NATO Maritime Command in Northwood, England, which runs NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield against Somali pirates.
Somalia is a strategically important country and the international community must continue to invest there, according to the draft report.
The failure to consistently prosecute captured pirates is one of the major weaknesses in the international response and a stronger legal framework to address the problem must be developed, the report says.
“If they cannot be tried regionally, they should be tried in the countries whose navies capture them. Counter-piracy coalition members should adapt anti-piracy laws which allow them to take universal jurisdiction to prosecute piracy”, says the report.
Dutch Senator Franklin van Kappen made a strong plea for the mission to be made “more aggressive” by carrying out strike operations against on shore pirate bases. Knops also recommended that NATO consider an expanded mandate in its mission to allow the targeting of pirate capacities along the coast, similar to the decision taken recently by the European Union.
Knops also noted that one of the most positive aspects of NATO’s counter-piracy response is that it has fostered closer military cooperation with the EU.
He recommended that a NATO Centre of Excellence for counter-piracy be established at Northwood where the NATO and EU anti-piracy missions are headquartered.
The recent rise in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa has raised concerns that it could reach similar danger levels as that off East Africa. However, Knops suggested that NATO should “think very seriously about whether we should launch another counter-piracy mission there.”
On the controversial aspect of using private security guards aboard ships, the Dutch lawmaker disagreed with those who see this as a panacea, pointing to the legal uncertainties, especially if force is used.