14 Jun 2012
House of Lords EU committee holds piracy enquiry
By Lulu Trask
Earlier today, the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on External Affairs held a follow-up inquiry on Somali piracy. Witnesses present at the meeting included The Hon. Jean-Paul Adam, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Republic of Seychelles, Dr. Lee Willett, head of maritime studies at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), and Nick Harvey MP, minister of state for the armed forces.
The meeting, entitled ‘Combating Somali Piracy: the EU’s naval Operation Atalanta – Follow-up report’, was a follow-up to the committee’s 2010 meeting, and saw its members discuss piracy issues pertinent to our industry, alongside the progress of the EU’s Operation Atalanta and its mandate change, described by a member of the meeting as “part of an acceptance politically that more needed to be done.” At a time when superyachts are looking to traverse new and unfamiliar waters, it is imperative that we as an industry understand fully the implications of piracy around the world.
Adam opened the first session of the morning, declaring: “The United Kingdom is giving very strong leadership on the matter, but there is still a lot to be done.
“The international community is treating piracy as an acceptable symptom that we can live with, in that we’re set up to deal with it. If we were to transpose those activities and look at them on land, we would never have accepted them as acceptable. We must be much more robust and much more direct in dealing with the problem.”
A matter all witnesses agreed on was the necessity to deal with the land-based pirates. Since the 2010 meeting, the UK and the Seychelles have set up the Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecution Intelligence Centre, which targets the land-based financiers of piracy.
Impunity was also highlighted as a problem by Adam, though he declared his republic’s government was prosecuting pirates, with 100 collectively awaiting trial or in prison. However, he stressed the importance of the trial and prosecution of pirates in their own country. “It is very important that we have incarceration in the state of origin,” said Adam, something he added was part of the necessary building up of the Somalian state.
Also discussed, and perhaps most pertinent to the superyacht industry, was the question of whether we as an industry are doing enough for our own protection, something noted at the Superyacht Security Summit 2012, when key members of the superyacht industry acknowledged a lack of any superyacht-specific guidelines on counter-piracy measures. The meeting discussed and praised the use of citadels and armed guards. Interestingly, it was noted that at the 2010 meeting certain members were tentative towards supporting the use of armed guards as an effective security measure. Two years later, however, the meeting praised them, though not as a measure in its own right. “We have had a number of measures that have come together, of which the use of armed guards is one,” said Willett. “There’s’ been more of a comprehensive approach to looking at this, which gives the armed guards option more utility as part of a wider approach.”
The meeting concluded that in the years since 2005 we have seen a fluctuation in the number of attacks, but the aim, according to the committee, is to get back to the levels of 2005. Harvey commented: “We are succeeding in reducing piracy to a minimal level, but always accepting that military activity isn’t going to eliminate piracy, certainly not on its own. Therefore we are helping in succeeding bringing about a reduction.”
With the fact that “piracy may prove to evolve in a way that hasn’t been predicted so far,” according to Adoja Anyimadu, head analyst on Somalia at Chatham House, it is imperative that counter-piracy measures continue to evolve alongside those of piracy. Just as imperative, however, is that the evolving superyacht arena remains alert to the evolution of a threat ever on the edge of our industry.
An audio recording of the committee meeting can be found on the UK Parliament website.
UK Parliament Website
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