London Somalia Conference - action on piracy

This week saw 40 governments and multi-lateral organisations come together in London with the aim of delivering a new international approach to Somalia. They discussed how the international community can step-up its efforts to tackle both the root causes and effects of the problems in the troubled country.

Some of the key areas for the shipping industry arising from the conference were:

Foreign Secretary William Hague and Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe signed a Memorandum of Understanding allowing the Royal Navy to transfer suspected pirates to Tanzania to be prosecuted. The Foreign Secretary also signed a statement of intent with Mauritian Foreign Minsiter Arvin Boolell to conclude such an MOU by early June. The UK will continue to work with other states in the region to secure similar agreements.

• Somaliland signed a ground breaking agreement with the Seychelles to transfer convicted pirates to prisons in Somaliland – the first transfer of 19 convicted pirates is likely to take place by the end of March.

• Puntland made clear its commitment to the transfer of convicted pirates from prisons in the region to prisons in Puntland from August.

• And the UK announced the creation of an international task force on pirate ransoms. This will bring together experts from across the world to better understand the ransom business cycle and how to break it.

However, although supporting the international efforts to improve the situation in Somalia,  the Save Our Seafarers campaign group noted statements made during the conference by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and UK Prime Minister David Cameron about “creating an international task force to discourage the payment of ransoms to pirates and other groups to eliminate the profit motive”.  In a statement, the campaign group expressed "deep concern if they mean in any way to hinder the payment of ransoms for ships and seafarers, which is currently the only way ship owners can ensure the ultimate safety of hijacked seafarers."