Informal Meeting on Piracy

Statement by Ambassador Dr. Palitha Kohona, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations

Madam Chair,

My delegation thanks you for giving me the opportunity to speak on this important subject. 

Piracy has a major destabilizing effect on countries, regional and global trade and security.  217 ships were attacked by pirates in 2009, 56 were hijacked.  My country, extensively dependent on seaborne trade, is particularly concerned about these developments.  Furthermore, a significant portion of world trade passes within 20 kms of  Sri Lanka.  The stability and safety of international trade is of prime importance to us and to our region.  I note with deep concern that a number of Sri Lankan seamen have been the victims of pirates off the Somali coast.  We believe that there needs to be a coordinated global approach in dealing with this threat.   Ad-hoc approaches or quick fixes will not suffice. 

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the ILO Maritime Labour Convention are good starting points in addressing this challenge.  As the Secretariat paper points out, some initiatives in addressing piracy can be implemented within the framework of the International Maritime Organization in the areas of security and navigation, political and socio economic repercussions of piracy, the necessity for land based initiatives, options to bring perpetrators to justice and cooperation among States.  The trade and political implications of piracy will require the continued attention of the United Nations.  We need to ensure that the views of the wider global community are taken into account in addressing this threat to modern seafaring and commerce.  It is amazing that one of the oldest threats to civilization is again causing a significant challenge in the globalized and digitized contemporary world.  Piracy gave rise to one of the original bases for the development of the principles of universal jurisdiction. 

We believe that the most effective mechanism to deal with piracy in its complexity is the United Nations as the only universal organization capable of consolidating international efforts.  Cooperation is critical.  If it is decided as necessary, we should look into elaborating an additional legal instrument which will take account of gaps in the existing framework of instruments and bodies.  We also take the view that there is a need to assist countries affected to strengthen their domestic legal structures and capacities to deal with piracy.  It is very clear that people who turn to piracy simply to make a basic living cannot be countered unless alternative livelihoods are provided.  Unfortunately, we do not believe that only better courts, better judges and better jails will suffice.  Sri Lanka stands ready to work with the international community in addressing these scourges. 

Thank you Madam Chair.

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