India in UN panel to combat piracy off Somalian coast
Washington, Jan 15 (IANS) An international group, including India, has established four working bodies to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea off Somalia's coast. The region witnessed over 100 attacks, including 40 seizures, in 2008.
Set up under a UN Security Council resolution, the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) to facilitate discussion and coordination of actions among states and organisations to suppress piracy off the coast of Somalia held its first meeting at the United Nations Wednesday.
The CGPCS offers participation to any nation or international organisation making a tangible contribution to the counter-piracy effort, or any country significantly affected by piracy off the coast of Somalia, the US State Department said while announcing the formation of the group.
The Contact Group extended invitations to Belgium, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and the Arab League, it said.
The CGPCS identified six related focus areas: improving operational and information support to counter-piracy operations, establishing a counter-piracy coordination mechanism, strengthening judicial frameworks for arrest, prosecution and detention of pirates, strengthening commercial shipping self-awareness and other capabilities, pursuing improved diplomatic and public information efforts, and tracking financial flows related to piracy.
The participants agreed to establish four working groups in which all CGPCS parties may participate, to address the focus areas.
Working Group 1 will address activities related to military and operational coordination and information sharing and the establishment of the regional coordination centre, and will be convened by Britain with the support of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Denmark will convene Working Group 2 to address judicial aspects of piracy with the support of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The US will convene Working Group 3 to strengthen shipping self-awareness and other capabilities, with the support of IMO.
Egypt will convene Working Group 4 to improve diplomatic and public information efforts on all aspects of piracy.
Additionally, participating states affirmed the importance of attention to financial flows to pirates and their activities and decided to remain seized of the issue.
The CGPCS also called on international bodies that track illicit financial flows to examine the question of such flows to pirates and their operations and to report as appropriate to the CGPCS and other groups concerned with the issue.
The CGPCS plans to meet again in March 2009 to review the progress and direction of the four working groups and other developments. It will consider, at that time, the addition of new members. It will report its progress periodically to the UN Security Council.
Participating in the meeting were representatives from Australia, China, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, The Netherlands, Oman, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia TFG, Spain, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Yemen, as well as the African Union, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the UN Secretariat, and the International Maritime Organisation.
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