Fight against maritime piracy
On 13 April 2009, the Spokesman of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs has explained France’s engagement and role in the international fight against maritime piracy off Somalia.
Wherever the pirates are operating from, the consequences of this criminal activity are both regional and international. The pirates’
area of operation extends beyond the coast of Somalia. Let me reiterate that almost 16,000 ships pass through this region each year.
As you know, the French President has reasserted France’s determination not to give in to blackmail and to keep maritime piracy in check.
In order to combat this scourge, France has taken the initiative to propose to the Security Council that naval forces should have automatic right of seizure with the approval of the Security Council if a crime has been committed, and that the introduction of maritime patrols should be authorized in the unsafe areas in order to deter piracy.
France was thus the first nation since November 2007 to respond, within the framework of Operation Alcyon, to appeals from the World Food Programme (WFP) to guarantee the transport of humanitarian aid to Somalia.
In addition, we have mobilized major operational assets through operation Atalanta, the first ESPD naval operation, in which some 10 European Union naval forces are participating. Nine States are working with the deployed forces within the framework of this operation and this group should soon increase in size. The ships that requested protection through this operation and that observed shipping instructions all passed through the Gulf of Aden safely. Atalanta ensures the safety of two out of every three ships that pass through the area.
In addition, 19 WPF ships carrying 120,000 tons of food passed through the area safely, allowing 1.8 million Somalis daily access to food.
However, the response to acts of piracy cannot just be based on military force ; a sustained response also requires forceful action by the international community aimed at combating the underlying causes of the problem. Today’s goal is to reestablish the rule of law in Somalia by guaranteeing the Somali authorities conditions for successful political dialogue and strengthening their capacity to exercise their governing powers. To this end, Bernard Kouchner will take part in the international meeting on Somalia on April 23 in Brussels. This meeting was proposed by the United Nations Secretary General.