Saudi Arabia has made a significant contribution to the IMO Djibouti Code Trust Fund, giving a welcome boost to the IMO-led project to implement the Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden signed in Djibouti in January 2009 (Djibouti Code of Conduct).
His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom, presented a cheque for US$100,000 to IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos on Wednesday (21 September).
The Djibouti Code has so far 18 signatory States (Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen) who have pledged to cooperate in measures aimed at suppressing piracy, including investigation, arrest and prosecution of persons, who are reasonably suspected of having committed acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships; the interdiction and seizure of suspect ships; the rescue of ships, persons and property subject to piracy and armed robbery and the facilitation of proper care, treatment and repatriation of seafarers, fishermen, other shipboard personnel and passengers; the conduct of shared operations – both among signatory States and with navies from countries outside the region; and the sharing of information.
IMO Secretary-General Mitropoulos thanked Saudi Arabia for its donation to the fund and urged others to do the same.
“The work to implement the Djibouti Code of Conduct is hugely important and the capacity-building projects planned for 2011 and in the coming years is one important part of the fight against piracy. A collective effort is needed if shipping is to be rid of this scourge and the integrity of strategically important shipping lanes maintained. This is why IMO chose “Piracy: orchestrating the response” as its theme for World Maritime Day 2011 in order to underpin its own work in this area this year and beyond,” Mr. Mitropoulos said.
Djibouti Code of Conduct implementation
A multi-national Project Implementation Unit was formed within IMO in April 2010 to assist signatory States to implement the Djibouti Code of Conduct. It consists of a head of unit and specialists in operations and training, technical and computing systems, and maritime law and operates with monies from the Trust Fund, which has, to date, also received contributions from France, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and the Republic of Korea.
There has been much progress to implement the Code to date including the following activities:
Three Information Sharing Centres (ISCs) have been established in Sana’a, Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, which became operational earlier in 2011, and these drive a network of National Focal Points in all signatory States and other States to which the Code is open for signature.
Training activities have been underway in the region since 2010 and a regional training-needs matrix has been agreed, which will form the basis for training throughout 2012 and into 2013. This includes greater emphasis on linking legal agencies with maritime law-enforcement agencies, and workshops to promote an inter-agency approach to maritime security. Additionally, skills-based training in coast-guarding functions will be delivered covering operational, technical and logistical training. Building work has begun for a Regional Training Centre in Djibouti (DRTC), to which IMO is donating US$2.5 million.
Djibouti Code signatories have undertaken to review their national legislation with a view to ensuring that there are laws in place to criminalize piracy and armed robbery against ships and to make adequate provision for the exercise of jurisdiction, conduct of investigations and prosecution of alleged offenders.
IMO is working 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 investigation under its piracy legislation and piracy legislation being sufficient to meet the needs of its 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 throughout 2011, and related work will continue through 2012.
Maritime Situational Awareness
IMO is working to develop signatory State’s 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, coastal radar and other sensors and systems are under way. This will provide States with a ‘picture’ of maritime activity throughout the region, thus contributing to the delivery of maritime safety and security.
Without further contributions, the IMO Djibouti Code of Conduct will only partially cover development of this plan, and despite the generosity of all the donors, including Saudi Arabia, further funds will be required if the region is to be given the ability to enforce its own maritime security in the future.