Capacity building a key in counter-piracy, says Abdullah
Much has been done to tackle the problems caused by maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia, but more needs to done to build the capacity of Somalia and its neighbours to control their own shores and patrol their own waters, said UAE Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
In a statement issued ahead of a two-day international conference on counter piracy, organised by the UAE Foreign Ministry in partnership with local port operators, which opens in Dubai on Wednesday, Shaikh Abdullah said maritime piracy remained a threat to regional security and global commerce.
“Despite a marked decline in pirate attacks launched from the coast of Somalia over the last two years, maritime piracy remains a threat to regional security and global commerce. Representatives from around the globe are therefore gathering in Dubai tomorrow, to discuss ways of strengthening the response of the international community to meet this challenge. Building on the success of two previous conferences, the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with its conference partners, DP World and Abu Dhabi Ports Company, has again convened this high-level initiative on countering piracy,” he said.
Shaikh Abdullah added that this year, the focus is on regional capacity-building in order to allow countries in the region to control their own shores and patrol their own waters. Improving the capacity of the navies and coast guards of Somalia and its neighbours will not only substantially diminish pirate attacks, it will also help the region in facing other challenges, such as illegal fishing and human trafficking.
“Central to the UAE’s counter-piracy strategy is the recognition that the capability and capacity of countries in the region to combat piracy are varied and at different stages of development. Determining specific gaps thus allows the UAE to target assistance where it can have the greatest impact, thereby advancing regional partners’ security and stability.
“The UAE tailors assistance to the specific needs of a country. This is shown, for example, in the support provided to the coast guard and navy of the Seychelles, where the UAE has helped to build facilities and has provided patrol planes. By conducting a needs assessment and then helping chart a trajectory towards a comprehensive national strategy, the UAE assists its regional partners in helping themselves. This enables countries to develop their own counter-piracy capability, strengthen their rule of law, and protect their sovereignty and territory against the scourge of maritime piracy,” he said.
“But we do not just focus on other countries. At home, the UAE has made progress in strengthening the military’s maritime security capability, engaging and training private industry on best practices in areas such as port security, and using the legal system as a tool for prosecuting and deterring piracy-related offences”.
“The recent reduction in piracy in the Indian Ocean region is the result of exactly these kind of strategic, focused and multi-disciplinary approaches that include security operations, investments in economic and social development, humanitarian assistance, and capacity-building for local security forces and legal systems.
“In Dubai this week, ministers, government officials, industry representatives, military security personnel and academics will further discuss how to continue the fight against piracy, which has created so much human suffering and economic damage. The international community has come a long way, but we are not there yet,” the minister said.
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