Ministerial meeting agrees to launch process for handing over implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct to a new regional structure
Ministers from participating States in the Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden (the Djibouti Code of Conduct) have recognized the need to develop a mechanism for the region to run its own counter-piracy agenda, following the successful implementation by IMO of numerous projects aimed at improving regional capacity to counter piracy by developing enhanced regional cooperation and coordination.
A high-level meeting, held at IMO Headquarters in London on 30 May, agreed a resolution on future work under the Djibouti Code of Conduct. The resolution envisages the immediate launch of work to establish a new structure for regional implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct, with IMO playing a supportive role during a transitional period. There was also widespread appreciation of the work of IMO in implementing the Code, as well as the support provided by the ReCAAP-ISC.
The meeting was attended by 80 delegates, including ministers and other officials from the Djibouti Code of Conduct participating and signatory States, as well as by representatives from a number of donor States and international organizations including the European Union (EU), ReCAAP, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.
IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu congratulated the meeting on its outcome and pledged IMO’s full support for on-going capacity-building work. He said that the region’s need to develop its own capacity to deal with piracy was stronger now than ever, as the international navies deployed voluntarily must, inevitably, look to reduce their forces over the next few years if the attacks continue to diminish and pressures on naval resources are focussed elsewhere.
“The work you have done already means that the region is better placed than when we started along this road, but the need remains to develop capacity and address some of the articles of the Code of Conduct that have not been addressed thus far,” he said. “The Code of Conduct has a real role to play in this and the time is right for the region to not only review the relevance of the Code against today’s threats, but also to take greater responsibility for the coordination of its own efforts. I am pleased with the work that has been done to develop a mechanism for the region to run its own counter-piracy agenda.”
Djibouti Code of Conduct
The Djibouti Code of Conduct was signed in January 2009 by representatives of nine countries, and was thereafter signed by a further 11, bringing the total to 20 countries from the 21 eligible.
A multi-national Project Implementation Unit (PIU) was formed in April 2010 at IMO Headquarters to assist signatory States to implement the Code, with an initial budget of $13.8m, from donations from Japan to the IMO Djibouti Code Trust Fund, to which eight more states – Denmark, France, Malta, the Marshall Islands, the Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea and Saudi Arabia – have subsequently donated.
With a team of specialists in operations and training, technical and computing systems, and maritime law, the PIU has been successful in working with the signatory States to improve regional capacity to counter piracy by developing enhanced regional cooperation and coordination under the four pillars of training, capacity building, legislation, and information sharing. Since its inception, the Trust Fund has also been used by donors to focus on other regional projects, which IMO has implemented to their direct specifications.
Background – IMO achievements under the Code
Training – To date, IMO, in partnership with other international and regional organizations, has delivered numerous training courses under the Djibouti Code of Conduct programme, with the participation of more than 700 trainees from the region. IMO’s training programme has covered all aspects of the Djibouti Code of Conduct including information sharing, coast guard duties and operations and legal training and there is an increased emphasis on training Somali officials in maritime governance and legislation to address the pressing need to create a Somali maritime sector to provide jobs as an alternative to piracy. Training partners include NATO, other UN agencies, the EU, and regional States.
The Regional Training Centre in Djibouti (DRTC) building, to which IMO has contributed US$2.5 million from the Djibouti Code Trust Fund, is due to be operational in September 2014. The DRTC, with the assistance of IMO and the EU, has been functioning since 2011 in its main role as coordinator of the region’s training needs, despite not having a dedicated building.
Legal – IMO has worked with a number of international organizations to assess and assist with national legislation, focusing on empowering States’ law-enforcement forces to conduct arrests and criminal investigations under their piracy legislation and ensuring that the piracy legislation is sufficient to meet the needs of their law-enforcement and justice agencies. Workshops to address the process of enforcing national piracy law at sea and what the justice process requires to achieve prosecution have been held since 2011, with an emphasis on bringing together all the agencies involved in the legal process to ensure pirates are prosecuted. Many regional countries have created maritime coordination committees as a result of this work.
Information sharing – Three Information Sharing Centres (ISCs) have been established, in Sana’a, Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, and these drive a network of National Focal Points in all participating States. The network is currently being used to exchange piracy incident reports through a web portal, and feeds information into the international navies through their military shipping links in Abu Dhabi and Northwood, UK. In addition, the ISCs are working with the international navies to assist with developing awareness about regional dhow operations. Dhows have previously been used by pirates as mother ships to extend the range at which they can attack shipping and, whilst the number of attacks on large merchant shipping has reduced significantly, attacks on local dhows and fishing vessels continue at pre-2008 levels.
Maritime Situational Awareness – IMO has been working to develop signatory States’ maritime situational awareness in order to enhance their maritime law-enforcement capabilities. Projects to increase the effective use of automatic identification systems (AIS), long-range identification and tracking of ships (LRIT), coastal radar and other sensors and systems are intended to provide States with a “picture” of maritime activity throughout the region, thus contributing to the delivery of maritime safety and security.
IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.