UN authorisation to fight piracy in Somali waters lapses


The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has not extended a resolution for the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea within Somalia’s territorial waters.

On 3 December, the UNSC passed a resolution authorising the extension of UN Security Council Resolution 2608 (2021), for three months. The 3 March deadline for it to be extended again lapsed, Agence France Presse reports.

In late February, the Federal Government of Somalia sent a letter to the United Nations opposing a further extension of the resolution that allows foreign navies to enter Somali territorial waters to repress piracy, Janes reports. Somalia said the resolution has achieved its objectives and Somalia is building up its own maritime security capabilities.

Somali piracy has been on the decline, with no incidents in four years. Now that the resolution has expired, international navies can still fight pirates in the region, but not in Somalian territorial waters.

The European Union’s Operation Atalanta, which began operations in 2008, will continue to operate in the region. In a statement on 9 March, the European Union Naval Force (EU Navfor) said Atalanta will continue to fulfil its missions in its broader area of responsibility, providing maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean.

“Operation Atalanta remains committed to the respect the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and will continue countering piracy in the high seas, protecting the World Food Programme (WFP) and other vulnerable vessels, countering drugs trafficking, contributing to the implementation of the weapons’ embargo on Somalia and monitoring other illicit activities at sea, such as the illegal export of charcoal and monitoring illegal, unreported and unregistered (IUU) fishing,” the EU Navfor said.

Over the past 13 years, Atalanta has transferred 171 suspected pirates to regional authorities in view of their prosecution, and escorted or monitored more than 2.3 million tons of humanitarian aid delivered by WFP vessels.

“All these achievements have been made possible thanks to the continuous commitment of the troop contributing nations. Today, 19 nations make a decisive contribution to the operation (16 EU member states together with Colombia, Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia).”

EU Navfor said that after almost 14 years of existence, Alatanta still fosters high-levels of coordination, deconfliction and complementarity with other operations and missions in the region, such as the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), the European Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH) and with ATALANTA’s sister EU missions EUCAP Somalia and EUTM Somalia.

Over the last decade, the global piracy epicentre has shifted to the Gulf of Guinea, but experts have warned that Somali piracy could easily resurge if international navies stopped their patrols in the region.