The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has authorised the use of force against pirates under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
The body last night unanimously adopted Resolution 1846 (2008) and gave permission to states and regional organisations cooperating with the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to enter the Horn nation’s territorial waters and use “all necessary means” to fight piracy and armed robbery at sea.
The resolution permits the deployment of naval vessels and military aircraft, as well as the seizure and disposition of boats, vessels, arms and related equipment used for piracy “in accordance with relevant international law.”
States and regional organisations cooperating with Somali authorities were also requested to provide the UNSC and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with a progress report on their actions within nine months.
Ban was ordered to report within three months on ways to ensure long-term security off the coast of Somalia, notably for UN World Food Programme deliveries, and on a possible coordination and leadership role for the UN in rallying member states and regional organisations for such a goal.
The council further called on states, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the shipping and insurance industries “to appropriately advise and guide ships on how to avoid, evade and defend themselves against attack, as well as provide Somalia and nearby coastal states with technical assistance to ensure coastal and maritime security.”
The UN`s highest body added that it continues “to be gravely concerned by the threat that piracy and armed robbery at sea … pose to the prompt, safe and effective delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia, to international navigation and the safety of commercial maritime routes, and to other vulnerable ships, including fishing activities in conformity with international law.”
It also welcomed steps by Canada, Denmark, France, India, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, and regional and international organizations to counter piracy, specifically citing North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) escorts for WFP vessels and the European Union decision to launch a 12-month naval operation next week.
South African moves
Meanwhile, South African defence ministry spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi says the mater of his country`s participation is being discussed at “the Presidential level and at the Department of Foreign Affairs.”
He noted the South African National Defence Force, which is known to be keen to give a hand, cannot deploy until requested and authorised to do so by the Head of State. “From where we sit, we have not officially received a request,” Mkhwanazi says.
Once the request is received from government, the minister of defence must consider it in consultation with the Chief of the SA National Defence Force and the chiefs of the relevant Services and divisions [in this case Navy chief Vice Admiral Refiloe Mudimu and Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Themba Matanzima] in terms of capacity, logistical support and budgetary implications before making a recommendation to President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Based on that recommendation, Motlanthe would then consider authorising a deployment, a step which in turn helps to release funding for such an undertaking.
Meanwhile, SA Navy chief director maritime strategy Rear Admiral Bernard Teuteberg warns that the current effort to counter pirates in Somali and adjacent waters “is a bit uncoordinated” in terms of rules of engagement and legal regime.
He notes that both France and Denmark have arrested suspected pirates but that both had to release and repatriate the alleged brigands after their courts declined jurisdiction. In addition, India recently thought it had sunk a Somali pirate “mother ship” but indications are it was a legitimate Thai trawler that had just been hijacked.