ASEM-8 leaders favour more sharing of intelligence inputs to curb sea piracy

Brussels, Oct.5 (ANI): Taking a serious view of the growing menace of piracy at sea, the world leaders who converged here for the 8th Asia-Europe meet summit, on Tuesday gave a call to increase sharing of intelligence inputs among ASEM partners to track down and interdict the financial means which fund piracy operations.

The leaders also underscored the significance of effectively prosecuting suspected pirates, and to this effect, of ensuring that evidence on pirates' attacks and on their identity be collected.

The final day of the two-day 8th Asia-Europe Meet (ASEM) witnessed world leaders focusing their attention of issues of global concerns, as they discussed issues of security, terrorism, piracy and disaster management at length.

In the face of persistent piracy attacks, in particular off the coast of Somalia, the Leaders asserted their determination to ensure the continued freedom and security of the seas, vital to the trade between Asia and Europe.

Leaders stressed that the "United Nations should continue to play an important role in international efforts against piracy" and guarantee that the sovereignty of states and international law are respected.

The leaders also called for universal ratification of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and of other relevant conventions.

They stressed on the importance of implementing the UN Security Council resolutions while calling on States to criminalize piracy and armed robbery at sea in their national legislation.

In this context, they welcomed the Report of the UN Secretary General on possible options to further the aim of prosecuting and imprisoning persons responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia.

Urging members to cooperate with the Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on Legal Issues in order to achieve agreement on the options to be pursued further, the world leaders at the summit, in this regard, called "for increasing the sharing of intelligence among ASEM partners with a view to tracking down and interdict the financial means which fund piracy operations."

The specifically discussed the security of seafarers and the future of their profession.

The leaders held that "the preservation of lives, bringing persons on board of vessels to safety or ensuring their rapid release, should at all times be the overriding concern."

"Unilateral measures from third countries which hamper such efforts are not acceptable," they also stated.

Leaders stressed the added value of exchanges of best practices on anti-piracy training of crews and on ways to support the victims of piracy acts and their families. They also supported efforts to facilitate the presence of seafarers at the trial of pirates.

They, however, commended the work done by the shipping industry in conjunction with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in developing Best Management Practices for ship owners and ship operators.

The importance for vessels travelling through danger zones to report through agreed mechanisms was also stressed and the leaders noted that "where these recommendations were followed, cases of successful attacks were reduced."

Leaders were of the opinion that the regional initiatives such as the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), the Djibouti Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden with the IMO Djibouti Code Trust Fund, and the Malacca and Singapore Straits patrols were effective and deserved further support.

Welcoming the strong cooperation within the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) and through the CGPCS Trust Fund, the leaders also commended the ongoing naval and air counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia as "important short-term responses to deter and repress acts of piracy and as outstanding examples of Europe and Asia working together on an issue of common interest."

They stressed the need to continue to provide adequate military resources.

Leaders were, however, of the view that a long-term approach was also required and should consist of multifaceted actions, including local and regional capacity building.

Major resolve must further be shown in addressing the root causes of piracy off the coast of Somalia, in particular by restoring political stability in Somalia. By Mrityunjay Singh(ANI)

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