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Research Report

Fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia: Lessons learned from the Contact Group

EDITED BY Thierry Tardy
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2014
Pages: 92
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 3-6)
    Antonio Missiroli and Maciej Popowski

    One of the priorities of the 2014 EU Chairmanship of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) has been to adequately document the lessons learned from the Contact Group. This includes both the unfiltered accounts of people affected by piracy or involved in the fight against piracy and the more academic, analytical work whose aim is to generate conclusions, observations and recommendations. To achieve the objective of documenting the CGPCS lessons learned, a CGPCS Lessons Learned Consortium was established in 2013 consisting of the EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), Cardiff University and Oceans Beyond Piracy....

  2. (pp. 7-10)
    Thierry Tardy

    The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) represents an innovative approach to crisis management. The CGPCS was set up in January 2009 to ‘foster closer international cooperation to address the scourge of piracy off the coast of Somalia’. It was created following the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1851 (2008); however it was intentionally established outside the formal UN framework to maintain a high degree of flexibility both in terms of membership and activities. The Contact Group is in principle open to any country or organisation that contributes to anti-piracy efforts or is directly affected...

  3. (pp. 11-17)
    Henk Swarttouw and Donna L. Hopkins

    The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) grew from a limited diplomatic initiative launched in January 2009 to deal with the piracy crisis into an expansive, elastic, multi-faceted mechanism that, by 2014, had stimulated effective and coordinated action by stakeholders from virtually every sector of global society affected by the problem of piracy.

    The open architecture of the Contact Group, which over time welcomed a wide range of inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as representatives of private industry and civil society, made it a highly unusual – perhaps unique – format via which to...

  4. (pp. 18-27)
    Jon Huggins and Jens Vestergaard Madsen

    The year 2005 marked a significant turning point for Somali piracy. A phenomenon that had started as a spate of isolated incidents was now maturing into an organised business model, posing a significant threat to the busy shipping lanes near Somalia. In 2008, the UN Secretary-General and Security Council requested international assistance to escort vulnerable World Food Programme (WFP) vessels. However, in spite of the resulting naval presence and high-tech surveillance, the Somali pirates seemed to have found a niche in which they could thrive. Despite early hopes for a quick resolution to the problem, it soon became clear that...

  5. (pp. 28-34)
    Marcus Houben

    The initial response of the international community to the rise of piracy off the coast of Somalia was to try to contain it by establishing a robust and credible military presence at sea, protecting vulnerable shipping, preventing piracy attacks and generally deterring pirates from attacking. This response was combined with international efforts to end the impunity of pirates by strengthening the judicial chain in Somalia and in the region and to build and strengthen the capacity of Somalia and regional states to fight piracy themselves.

    Institutional capacity-building efforts related to counter-piracy have been complemented by a broader involvement of governments,...

  6. (pp. 35-40)
    Jonas Bering Liisberg

    Realising that there was an urgent need for legal guidance in the efforts of the international community to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) established a special Working Group (WG2) on legal issues in 2009.

    Similar relevant fora for states and organisations to discuss legal issues related to piracy do not appear to exist. It is therefore appropriate to start this Lessons Learned study by looking at the achievements and working methods of the legal working group under the CGPCS.

    Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1851 (2008),...

  7. (pp. 41-49)
    Huh Chul

    The Working Group 3 (WG3) of the CGPCS was established at the first CGPCS Plenary in January 2009. It is mandated to work with the shipping industry in order to strengthen commercial shipping self-awareness and other capabilities. WG3 has made joint efforts with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the maritime industry and NGOs to enhance the security of shipping and to promote the post-hostage care of crew members who have been involved in piracy incidents. WG3 was initially co-chaired by the US Coast Guard (USCG) and Maritime Administration (MARAD). Since 2012, the Republic of Korea has served as Chair of...

  8. (pp. 50-54)
    David M. Meron

    From its inception, the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia’s founding nations and organisations correctly recognised the important role strategic communications should play in efforts to combat piracy emanating from Somalia. It created Working Group 4 (WG4) with the intention of establishing something akin to a public diplomacy unit. WG4 was designed to serve the CGPCS in two ways. First, it would keep the international community informed as to its activities and events related to pirate attacks. Second, by initiating targeted anti-piracy messaging campaigns, it would seek to influence Somalis living both in their home country and...

  9. (pp. 55-62)
    Giuseppe Maresca

    Over the last decade, piracy has blighted Somalia, damaging its development prospects, disrupting shipping lanes along its coastal area and causing great stress and suffering to the crew members of the vessels hijacked. When Somalia becomes a unified nation with a strong central government that exerts full control over its territory, the problem posed by piracy is likely to be considerably rolled back, albeit over time. As the gradual process of rebuilding the Somali state has been resumed, the international community has also moved quickly towards setting up effective protection measures that have reduced successful pirate attacks to zero. These...

  10. (pp. 63-70)
    Amit Singhal

    The number of reported incidents of piracy off the coast of Somalia has declined sharply and is now at its lowest level since 2006.¹ Despite the challenges to governance and rule of law with which Somalia is still confronted, the international community has achieved considerable success in its fight against Somali piracy due to close cooperation between and among states, regions, organisations, the maritime industry, the private sector and civil society. This has led to the development and implementation of practical solutions on naval and operational coordination, legal and judicial issues, self-protection measures for the shipping industry, public diplomacy and...

  11. (pp. 71-77)
    Mohamed Husein Gaas

    Since its inception in 2006, the International Contact Group (ICG) on Somalia has witnessed the magnitude of crises taking place in Somalia, be they security, political, humanitarian, or development-related. In response, building the capacity of the Somali authorities has been identified as a key stepping stone to address the challenges faced by the country. Piracy is a case in point. Incidents of piracy have steadily declined over the past few years and the Somali authorities have praised the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) for being instrumental in facilitating and coordinating counter-piracy activities. However, much remains...

  12. (pp. 78-85)
    Christian Bueger

    To understand what the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) is and what can be learned from it, the project needs to be contextualised. Contact groups and informal governance mechanisms have increasingly become a tool of the international community to address international problems. Observers speak of the ‘informalisation’ of world politics and stress that international politics is increasingly conducted elsewhere than in formal international organisations.¹ Informal organisations are characterised by their lack of explicit rules or standardised procedures and work without standing secretariats. If informalisation was originally a trend in economic governance, contact groups are growing...