Statement by Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, during a Security Council Debate on Piracy

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
August 25, 2010


Thank you, Mr. President.

Let me begin by thanking the Secretary-General for his thoughtful report examining the options for prosecuting suspected pirates and imprisoning convicted ones. We hope very much that this report will help enlighten all concerned about the very real challenges we all face in this area. We also commend the Russian Federation for leading the call for this report and drawing attention to this important issue.

Mr. President, piracy is an old problem that has taken on troubling modern form. It continues to affect us all through increased risk to our citizens, disruption of global commercial shipping, and damage to property and goods. Ultimately, only security and stability in Somalia will resolve the root causes of its current piracy problem. Even so, the states and international organizations participating in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, including the UN, have made considerable contributions to the effort to suppress piracy in this critical region.

But significant challenges remain. The United States commends the efforts of individual states, the European Union’s Operation Atalanta, NATO’s Operations Allied Protector and Ocean Shield, and the Combined Maritime Forces’ Combined Task Force 151 to combat piracy and protect vulnerable ships making their way through the waters off the Somali coast. Still, these tremendous naval efforts will be of limited effect if suspected pirates are captured and released without judicial consequences when there is sufficient evidence to support prosecution. As the UN report notes, prosecution of suspected pirates and imprisonment of convicted ones are essential to end impunity for acts of piracy.

The Secretary-General’s report provides a balanced, thorough review of the pros and cons of seven distinct options on the issue. There are no easy answers to the exercise of bringing pirates to justice, and we welcome all creative ideas for tackling this thorny problem. Any long-term solution will require political will and financial resources from the international community and the states in the region.

The options in the Secretary-General’s report reflect discussions within the Contact Group on Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia over the past two years, particularly in the Legal Working Group. The United States has been pleased to play an active role in the Contact Group, which is both an effective means of coordinating counter-piracy initiatives and a valuable and appropriate forum for building on the observations in the UN report.

We’re particularly grateful that the Secretary-General’s report discusses at length the vital issue of imprisonment. We agree with the report’s assessment that having sufficient arrangements for imprisonment in the region is just as important—if not more so—than the mechanism for prosecution. In fact, if such imprisonment arrangements could be identified, many more states may be willing to prosecute suspects in their national courts.

Mr. President, the United States welcomes the Secretary-General’s appointment of Jack Lang as the UN Special Advisor on Piracy. We look forward to working closely with him and coordinating our efforts.

Mr. President, let us be clear on the underlying dynamics involved. Ultimately, as has been said, the problem of piracy off the Horn of Africa will not be solved until Somalia is stabilized. To that end, the United States continues to strongly support the Djibouti Peace Process and the Transitional Federal Government.

Mr. President, the tragic events which took place yesterday in Mogadishu, which resulted in the death and injury of innocent civilians, including Members of the Somali Parliament, underscores the urgency with which we must address the terror and hardship all Somalis face on a daily basis. The United States joins our fellow Council members and the Secretary-General in condemning in the strongest possible terms these murderous acts, and we pledge our continuing support to AMISOM, the UN and the TFG in their efforts to bring peace and stability to this important country and hope for the future of the Somali people.

Thank you, Mr. President.


PRN: 2010/167