by H.E. Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti,
Representative of Brazil
the United Nations
situation in Somalia (Piracy)
New York, 25 August 2010
We appreciate your initiative of promoting this timely and important debate.
We thank the Secretary-General for his report and welcome his appointment of a Special Adviser on Legal Issues related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. I also thank the Legal Counsel, Ms. Patricia O'Brien, for her presentation and Ambassador Elmi Duale for his comments. Let me join in extending a warm welcome to Ambassador Nishida, new Permanent Representative of Japan.
We welcome the Secretary-General's report, which offers a good analysis of the complex challenges in ensuring that those responsible for piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia are brought to justice. The greatest challenge, of course, is addressing the root causes of the problem. Restoring peace and stability, promoting effective governance, strengthening the rule of law and providing alternative livelihoods in Somalia are essential to a sustainable response, as the report indicates.
The brutal al-Shabaab attack against a hotel in Mogadishu yesterday, which killed more than 30 people, mostly civilians, is another shocking reminder of the pressing need for a timely and comprehensive solution to the situation in Somalia. We once again condemn the violence in the strongest terms and express our condolences to the families of the victims and to the
Somali government and people.
While strengthening efforts to bring stability and peace to Somalia, it is important to combat piracy and ensure that pirate militias do not enjoy impunity. The Secretary General's report analyzes several options for that purpose.
The report recognizes that the current approach of providing assistance to regional States to prosecute and imprison pirates has achieved some results.
We welcome and commend, in particular, the efforts by Kenya and the Seychelles to prosecute suspected Somali pirates. The recent opening of the high security courtroom in Shimo La Tewa, Mombasa, with support from
UNODC, is expected to enhance Kenya's capacity in this regard. More States in the region are considering undertaking piracy prosecutions. The Security Council
has played an important role in fostering such cooperation and should build upon it, especially by increased engagement with States in the region, with support of the international community. We should give top priority to the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct and full support to UNODC and UNDP programs to develop the security and justice sectors in Somalia and its neighbors.
The problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia, however, is a global one. The burden of prosecuting suspected pirates should not lie solely on States in the region, which are already disproportionally affected by the crisis. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea determines the duty of all States to cooperate - "to the fullest possible extent" - in the
repression of piracy. Its provisions allow for universal jurisdiction against this international crime. Brazil is encouraged, in this context, by the efforts of the Netherlands, the United States, France, Germany, Spain and other States outside the region to prosecute in their own courts suspected pirates apprehended off the coast of Somalia. States affected by
the scourge of piracy - flag States of attacked vessels, States of nationality of victims, or naval States exercising the right of visit - should not shy away from exercising their jurisdiction.
I would also like to address two concerns that seem crucial whichever option is pursued to further the aim of prosecuting suspects and imprisoning convicted pirates operating off the coast of Somalia.
Firstly, there is the issue of evidence gathering. Brazil is concerned that hundreds of suspects have been released this year alone because of lack of evidence to support prosecution. States apprehending suspected pirates should do their utmost to ensure that such arrests are made on credible grounds and that the necessary evidence is timely and adequately collected
and transferred to the institutions involved in the prosecution. Otherwise, the effectiveness of naval operations may be undermined, through impunity, on the one hand, and human rights violations of innocent seafarers, on the other.
Secondly, it is also essential to address the impunity of those most responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea. It is unlikely that those who provide the funds, the sophisticated equipment and heavy weapons - and who in turn receive the lion's share of the ransoms currently paid to Somali pirates - will be found and apprehended at sea. They are in land in Somalia and elsewhere. Focusing on foot soldiers apprehended by naval patrolling States alone will not be sufficient to ensure sustainable justice and to dismantle pirate criminal organizations operating off the coast of Somalia. In this regard, it is important to make full use of the targeted sanctions regime against pirate leaders, to increase intelligence
cooperation - especially to track financial flows of piracy - and to consider the authorization contained in paragraph 6 of Resolution 1851 (2008), subsequently renewed by Resolution 1897 (2009).
Almost 20 years of conflict in Somalia have had a significant impact at sea. Our actions to combat piracy, however important and necessary, will only have a limited effect in the absence of progress in restoring peace and ensuring an effective Government in Somalia.