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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Shipping Entities Want UN Armed Guards on Merchant Ships in Pirate Zones

According to a report in Tanker Operator:
The Round Table of international shipping associations has called for the establishment of a United Nations force of armed military guards to tackle the current piracy crisis.

In a hard hitting letter to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), BIMCO, INTERTANKO and INTERCARGO demanded a "bold new strategy" to curb rising levels of piracy, which have resulted in the Indian Ocean resembling "the wild west".

The letter stated: "It is now abundantly clear to shipping companies that the current situation, whereby control of the Indian Ocean has been ceded to pirates, requires a bold new strategy. To be candid, the current approach is not working."

Regretting the increasing necessity for shipping companies to employ private armed guards to protect crew and ships, the letter continued: "It seems inevitable that lawlessness ashore in Somalia will continue to breed lawlessness at sea."

The shipping industry organisations - which represent more than 90% of the world’s merchant fleet – said that they fully support the UN's long-term measures on shore aimed at helping the Somali people but were concerned that these "may take years, if not decades, to have a meaningful impact on piracy."

Old School Armed Guards for Merchant Ships
Asking the UN to bring the concept of a UN force of armed military guards to the attention of its Security Council, the letter said: "The shipping industry believes that the situation can only be reversed with a bold approach that targets the problem in manageable pieces. We believe that an important element in this approach would be the establishment of a UN Force of Armed Military Guards that can be deployed in small numbers on board merchant ships.

“This would be an innovative force in terms of UN peacekeeping activity but it would do much to stabilise the situation, to restrict the growth of unregulated, privately contracted armed security personnel and to allow those UN member states lacking maritime forces - including those in the region most immediately affected - to make a meaningful contribution in the area of counter-piracy," the letter concluded.
If the UN funds armed guards then shipping companies won't have to, unless the UN charges them for the service, which it should.

Operating under a UN charter might make some of the legal aspects of armed ship guards easier.

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