New York - The UN Security Council on Monday unanimously
called on Somalia to pass laws banning seafaring pirates off its coasts and
urged the east African nation to more aggressively combat them and the crime
lords on land who finance and organise their raids.
The council passed a resolution 15-0 reauthorising foreign
ships, including the European Union Naval Force and African Union, Chinese and
Pakistani forces, to continue patrolling sea lanes off Somalia and protecting
shipping in the Indian Ocean.
The resolution also told Somalia to step up its efforts to
arrest pirates and bring them to trial. Somali pirate cases are tried in other
countries whose nationals have been held hostage or killed, or which own ships
and cargos and claim jurisdiction, including the United States.
The council welcomed the news that pirate attacks off
Somalia have fallen to their lowest level since 2006.
Armed guards aboard cargo ships and an international naval
armada complete with aircraft that carry out onshore raids have put a huge dent
in Somali piracy.
Somali pirates hijacked 46 ships in 2009 and 47 in 2010,
according to the EU Naval Force. In 2011, pirates launched a record number of
attacks — 176.A report by Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon says that there were
only 17 pirate attacks in the first nine months of 2013, compared with 99
attacks in the first nine months of 2012.
The last seizure of a major vessel was the MT Smyrni, taken
for ransom in May 2012.
The resolution encourages countries operating in the
high-risk sea lanes to allow "privately contracted armed security
personnel" aboard commercial ships to protect them. That issue was debated
at the council last year, after Russian and Italian military crews assigned to
merchant ships fired on and killed fishermen off Somalia, mistaking them for
The lingering threat to shipping, the council resolution
said, complicates UN and international efforts to ship food for famine relief
Somalia's fragile central government doesn't control large
sections of the country, much of which is ruled by al-Shabaab militants allied
with al-Qaeda. An African Union military force is trying to help the Somali
government extend control over more territory, and the Security Council last
week approved a "surge" in resources from troop-contributing
countries to try to break the stalemate with al-Shabaab.
The new resolution "calls upon the Somali authorities
to make all efforts to bring to justice those who are using Somali territory to
plan, facilitate, or undertake criminal acts of piracy and armed robbery at