Documents considered by the Committee on 24 November - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

16 ESDP: Piracy off the coast of Somalia


Draft Council Decision amending Joint Action 2008/851/CFSP on a European Union operation to contribute to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast

Legal baseArticles 28 and 43(2) EU; unanimity
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationMinister's letter of 19 November 2010
Previous Committee ReportsHC 428-vii (2010-11), chapter 4 (10 November 2010); also see (31809) —: HC 428-ii (2010-11), chapter 22 (15 September 2010); also see (31174) 16450/09: HC 5-iii (2009-10), chapter 19 (9 December 2009); (30982) —: HC 19- xxvii (2008-09), chapter 29 (14 October 2009); also see (30724) — and (30728)—: HC 19 xxiii (2008-09), chapter 9 (8 July 2009) and (30341) —, (30348) — and (30349) —: HC 19-iv (2008-09), chapter 17 (21 January 2009); (30400) 13989/08: HC 16-xxxvi (2007-08), chapter 17 (26 November 2008) and HC 16-xxxii (2007-08), chapter 10 (22 October 2008); and (29953)—: HC16-xxx (2007-08), chapter 19 (8 October 2008)
Discussed in CouncilBefore 26 November 2010
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


16.1 Operation Atalanta was established on 8 December 2008, via Joint Action 2008/851/CFSP, as an EU Naval Force to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia. It is the first EU maritime operation and aims to protect World Food programme humanitarian deliveries and to deter and disrupt pirate attacks on other vulnerable shipping. The story thus far is set out in our previous Report[75] and those of our predecessors.[76] Most recently, the Committee cleared an extension of its area of operation, reflecting the operation's success in displacing at least some of the pirates from the Gulf area to further south.[77]

16.2 Given the continuing high level of pirate attacks, EU Ministers agreed at the 14 June Foreign Affairs Council to support the Operation Commander's recommendation that Operation Atalanta's mandate be extended by a further two years, until December 2012. This Council Decision implements that agreement.

The draft Council Decision

16.3 The draft Council Decision extends Operation Atalanta until 12 December 2012.

16.4 In addition, the Minister of Europe (David Lidington) said in his Explanatory Memorandum of 8 November 2010 that lessons learnt thus far highlighted the requirement for two technical amendments to Joint Action 2008/851/CFSP — the collection of personal data, such as fingerprints, of apprehended persons with a view to tracing their identity and enhancing possible prosecution; and allowing EU classified information to be shared with partners in theatre, when deemed necessary.

16.5 With regard to the first of the proposed changes, the draft Council Decision says:

"In Article 2, the following paragraphs shall be added:

  "(g) collect data concerning persons referred to in paragraph (e) above related to characteristics likely to assist in their identification, including any specific objective physical characteristics not subject to change such as dactyloscopic data;

   "(h) for the purpose of circulating the data via INTERPOL's channels and checking it against INTERPOL 's databases, transmit to the National Central Bureau (NCB) of the International Criminal Police Organisation — INTERPOL located in the Member State where the Operational Headquarters is stationed in accordance with arrangements to be concluded between the Operation Commander and the Head of the NCB, the following data:

  "— personal data concerning persons referred to in paragraph (e) above related to characteristics likely to assist in their identification, namely any specific objective physical characteristics not subject to change, such as dactyloscopic data, as well as the following particulars, with the exclusion of other personal data: surname, maiden name, given names and any alias or assumed name; date and place of birth, nationality; sex, place of residence, profession and whereabouts; driving licenses, identification documents and passport data;

  "— data related to the equipment used by such persons."

16.6 With regard to the second proposed change, the draft Council Decision says:

"(d)  In Article 15, the following paragraph 3 shall be added:

"3. The High Representative is hereby authorised to release to third States and international organisations present in the area of operation classified EU information and documents generated for the purposes of the EU operation at the level RESTREINT UE, where such release at theatre level is necessary for operational reasons, in accordance with the Council's security regulations."

16.7 After outlining the general situation and the UK contribution in the same terms as in earlier Explanatory Memoranda relating to changes dealt with in our and our predecessors' previous Reports, and adding the welcome news that the EU mission has now ensured safe passage of over 400,000 tonnes of food aid to Somalia, the Minister said that:

—   regional judicial and penal capacity space was at premium placing pressure on Operation Atalanta only to pursue prosecutions where there was a high likelihood of success;

—  whilst the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) was supporting the efforts of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime to enhance regional capacity, the collection of personal data, e.g. fingerprints, of suspected persons and transmission to INTERPOL's forensic database would strengthen the operation's ability to successfully prosecute pirates;

—  this information would only be collated in accordance with national and international law;

—  the ability to share EU classified information in theatre, when deemed necessary, would enhance awareness between partners participating in counter-piracy, benefitting operations as a whole.

16.8 The Minister also said that, with regard to the Financial Implications:

—  common costs for the operation — €8.3 Million in the previous year — are met by all EU Member States, and are paid through contributions by Member States via the "ATHENA" financial mechanism based on the GDP of each nation;

—  other costs would be met by the participating nations;

—  the UK's previous contribution of £1.29 million per annum was expected to remain broadly consistent if the mandate was extended and would be funded from HMG's Peace Keeping budget.

Our assessment

16.9 We had no wish to hold up the extension of Operation Atalanta's mandate, given the importance of the threat to international stability that it is endeavouring to tackle. But there were some ambiguities that we felt needed clarifying.

16.10 First, we asked what was meant by dactyloscopic data? And what other data might be collected and transmitted to INTERPOL? Would this include an apprehended suspected pirate's DNA?

16.11 Secondly, we asked what was meant by the statement that "this information would only be collated in accordance with national and international law"? Whose national law? And which international law? Would the individuals concerned be obliged to provide the information specified in the proposed changes? Or, if there were no element of compulsion, what purpose would be served by a provision, compliance with which by the apprehended person or persons was purely voluntary?

16.12 We also noted that, once again, there was no response to the request for comments concerning the 5 December 2009 open letter from the Prime Minister of the Transitional Federal Government, which the previous Committee had drawn to the then Minister for Europe's attention several months ago, and about which the Committee had reminded the Minister in its Report of 15 September. In addition to help in the restoration of both effective government and the training of national security forces required to secure peace and enforce laws, to which there had been a response, that letter called for the restoration and enforcement of Somalia's economic exclusion zone "so that Somalia can use its vast potential wealth in fish, oil and gas to fund its own future" and a large scale civil affairs programme to train Somalia's young people and establish legitimate commercial livelihoods. Nor did his Explanatory Memorandum contain any information concerning any reviews of Operation Atalanta's effectiveness, or his views about progress thus far and on the best way forward. At the very least, we felt that it would be helpful for the House to have some sense of what activity was being undertaken by the EU or other parts of the international community to solve the underlying problems outlined in the Somali Prime Minister's letter, and what success Operation Atalanta had had beyond the generalities in the Minister's Explanatory Memorandum.

16.13 In the meantime, we retained the document under scrutiny.

The Minister's letter of 19 November 2010

16.14 In his letter, the Minister for Europe (David Lidington) says that he will take each question in turn, which he does as follows:


"We have used final negotiations in Brussels to clarify the ambiguities in the previous draft. The final version (attached) is now much clearer on these points. The previous reference to "dactyloscopic data" — i.e. fingerprint records — has been removed. EUNAVFOR will only be permitted to collect the following personal information:

  • maiden name / given name / alias
  • date of birth / place of birth
  • nationality and gender
  • driving license and ID documentation
  • where necessary other characteristics likely to assist in identification e.g. photographs and fingerprints.

The technical amendment explicitly does not allow the collection of any form of DNA data."


"The reference to 'applicable law' (replacing 'national and international law') was inserted into the document to make it clear that there must be a legal basis to undertake certain actions. However for any specific action by Operation Atalanta, different national and supernational laws may apply, depending on the activity of the suspected pirates, as well as the precise nature, action, geographical location and jurisdiction involved.

"The term 'applicable law' therefore clarifies that, whatever action is undertaken by the EU Operation, it must always be consistent with existing laws at all times.

"The Commander of an EUNAVFOR vessel operating in international waters, like police officers in the UK, cannot compel suspects to share their personal information. I therefore agree if a suspected pirated refused to share their information the amendment would have little added value. However changing the mandate would allow EUNAVFOR the ability to act as a conduit, if an individual was willing to share their information with international organisations such as Interpol, Europol and the UN Eritrea/Somalia Monitoring Group.


"I attach for your information the response given by Lord Howell on the floor of the House of Lords on 10 November 2010 providing the Government's response during the House of Lord's debate on Operation Atalanta.[78] This sets out our assessment of the success of the Operation in delivering its mandate to protect World Food Programme vessels delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia; protecting shipping assisting the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and protecting other vulnerable vessels sailing in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast.

"Other reviews of Operation Atalanta's effectiveness are underway within the EU. The Operation Commander's input to the Seven Month Review of Operation Atalanta was presented to the EU Military Committee on 20 September, and the Political and Security Committee (PSC) in Brussels on 21 September providing an initial assessment of the success of the Operation. Whilst the actual report is classified, its main recommendations were those highlighted in the amending Joint Action. We expect to receive the High Representative's report on the review later this month ahead of another PSC discussion, and will ensure officials circulate a copy of the report and the Government's opinions on it to the Committees.

Other activity on Somalia

"The international counter-piracy effort is co-ordinated primarily by the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), which includes more than 50 organisations and countries, including EU, NATO, UN, the International Maritime Organisation, the African Union, Arab League, Interpol, representatives of the shipping industry, the commanders of the military operations, the Transitional Federal Government and other regional countries and the key Flag States (eg Panama, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Bahamas). Although the chairmanship of the CGPCS rotates between member countries, the UK chairs the key working group on operational/military co-ordination and regional capability development, the US the working group on industry self protection, with Denmark leading important work on legal aspects and Egypt chairing a working group on strategic communications and messaging.

"The CGPCS endorsed the key recommendations of a UK-led needs assessment report included supporting legal, judicial and penal structures in the region, including within Somalia. The report also highlighted the need for the establishment of an exclusive economic zone for Somalia to provide a basis for law enforcement in Somali waters. The CGPCS is taking forward this sensitive work in consultation with representatives of the various entities in Somalia. This should enable fisheries licensing to begin, supporting alternative livelihoods, and training and equipping of regional maritime police/coastguards.

"In relation to establishing civil affairs programmes and legitimate commercial livelihoods the international community supports Somalia through the United Nations, the European Union and through bilateral contributions. The United Nations takes the lead internationally on Somalia, working with international and regional actors, including the EU. The United Nations Political Office for Somalia aims to create the necessary political and security conditions in Somalia for increased international engagement. A new UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Somalia, Dr. Augustine Mahiga, was recently appointed and is leading work to develop a UN political strategy which will drive the coordination and coherence of the international effort.

 "The European Union is contributing significantly in Somalia, leading the anti-piracy task force and providing €35.5M Euros of funding for AMISOM. The EU has provided development aid for security worth €13.3 million for rule of law since 2003. The European Commission has provided development aid worth €278 million since 2003. This is primarily focused on the following sectors: governance and security; social sectors; and agriculture, livestock, food security and early warning.

"The EU Training Mission (EUTM) for Somalia, supported by the UK and the US, is a one year programme that contributes to strengthening the Somali Security Forces through the provision of military training, including the deployment of 2 UK military personnel. The mission is however time-limited (one year). Currently 2,000 troops are being trained in Uganda focusing on initial training, for units up to and including platoon level to complement the existing training programmes.

"The International Contact Group on Somalia, which last met in Madrid in September, brings the international community together to discuss political, security, humanitarian, development and piracy issues. There was increased recognition at the last meeting that political reconciliation and embedding local and regional areas of stability to complement the transitional process in Mogadishu is a central part of building Somalia from the community-level up. The role of the private sector as a potential force for stability and progress was also recognised.

"The importance of all of these activities was highlighted in the UN Secretary General's recent report (S/2010/556) on piracy off the Coast of Somalia (attached).[79] I hope this provides the Committee with a sense of the range of activity underway to complement direct counter-piracy operations off the Coast of Somalia, and addressing its underlying issues."


16.15 We are grateful to the Minister for the further information concerning the draft Council Decision, which we now clear.

16.16 In doing so, we are also drawing the information concerning the wider context to the attention of the House.

Annex: Statement by the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford)

"My Lords, I think that the Government have already indicated in their response that they welcome the committee's report on the counter-piracy operations by the EU off the coast of Somalia and its support for our efforts to tackle piracy. I would go further than that. Listening to this debate, I feel proud to be a Member of your Lordships' House. The report has promoted an enormous range of very valuable thoughts. I possibly disagree with my noble friend Lord Hamilton, who seemed to be having a bit of a bad day with this report. I recognise that no report is perfect and no report can produce a whole string of solutions-nor is my speech going to produce such a string of solutions to the colossal problems that we face, which go far deeper than the phenomenon of piracy itself.

"The report contains extremely valuable insights and promotes a debate such as the one we that have had this afternoon, which in turn will hold the Government to account, as it is intended to, and sharpen and focus our policies as we grapple with this problem. I want to leave no doubt at all that we take the menace of Somali piracy extremely seriously and believe that it is vital to play a leading role in the international efforts to counter this threat. The situation is full of dangers and I hope that there is no suggestion of any complacency, despite the fact that there have been successes and solid advances, which I shall enumerate in my speech.

"The efforts so far have been achieved not only militarily, through our command of the EU counterpiracy operations and our contribution to other naval operations in the area, but also by the strong political leadership that this country has provided within the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, whose co-ordinating efforts from Northwood and Bahrain have been referred to. The UK has substantial economic interests in protecting freedom of navigation on the seas in this area, as throughout the world. My noble friend Lord Selkirk and the noble Lord, Lord Brett, are quite right that this problem could directly affect the maritime flows of oil and other crucial commodities, which provide a network that in a sense is just as important as the cybernetwork that people are coming to realise is the other vital latticework and web holding together our entire global prosperity.

"We must be realistic, as many noble Lords were this afternoon, including my noble and gallant friend Lord Inge and the noble Lord, Lord Sewel: there are no quick fixes and it will be a very long haul. I am very grateful for the broad support for Operation Atalanta that the noble Lord, Lord Brett, on behalf of the Opposition offered this evening. To use a phrase that I am afraid has slight political connotations, we are all in this one together. We must work resolutely together to maximise the contribution and do more.

"It must be remembered that Operation Atalanta was set up with two tasks in mind. One was to protect World Food Programme vessels delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia, as well as protecting shipping assisting the African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM. These escorts have helped the delivery of more than 500,000 metric tonnes of food to Somalia, feeding on average more than 1.35 million Somalis each day. Atalanta has also ensured a continuous flow of supplies to the African Union Mission for Somalia. I should say to my noble friend Lord Avebury, who raised this matter, that the plan is to enlarge AMISOM to 8,000 and then 12,000 personnel. We will then be able to contemplate a much more ambitious programme on land. So far none of the ships in that continuous flow of supplies has been hijacked while being supported by Operation Atalanta. We must not talk about winning, success and victory, but we can talk about a most satisfactory degree of containment of the situation and a genuine advance from an otherwise deteriorating pattern.

"The second task of Atalanta is, of course, to deter and disrupt attacks on vulnerable shipping in the region. Working closely with the other international operations, the EU naval force has had significant success in deterring and disrupting pirate activity in the critical Gulf of Aden trade artery. I have been asked at several stages whether things are getting better or worse. Activities and disruption in the Gulf of Aden are down this year, but activities and disruption in the much larger area off Somalia in the Indian Ocean are somewhat up. Overall, the balance is slightly down in terms of numbers of incidents, although more people have, I am afraid, been involved.

"The reference to EU-NAVFOR looking out for shipping that is vulnerable is deliberate. Most of the 20,000 merchant ships that go through the Gulf of Aden each year need little or no protection. Ships with high freeboard, travelling at reasonable speed, with lookouts deployed properly and with physical barriers erected against pirate boarding, should be safe from attack. The military operations have made it clear from the start that the first line of defence against pirates is adherence to common-sense self-defence measures. That should be obvious. It is a pity that it is not more obvious to some ship operators.

"The big industry associations have been critical allies in getting this message across-and we have to get it across. It is thanks to their close work with EU-NAVFOR and with the other military operations that we have industry-agreed best management practice for all ships active in the region between Suez and India. I pay tribute to all the seafarers and companies that stick closely to these guidelines and therefore reduce the risk both to themselves and to the military. I also share the frustration of the military at the numbers-it may be as high as one in five, or 20 per cent-that still consider compliance with these measures as optional. It is staggering, frankly, that some ships go through this area without even bothering to post lookouts and that the first notice that the military get of a hijack is to hear the words, "There is a pirate on the bridge", by when, of course, it is very nearly too late. We are there to support the shipping industry, but we need its support, too.

"My noble friend Lord Hamilton said that brisk retaliation by armed private security on ships, opening fire at approaching pirates, would be the answer. There are problems with that. The British Chamber of Shipping is cautious about that on the grounds of jurisdiction and the escalation of violence and so on. Of course, there is the question of vessel protection detachments, which I shall come to in a moment and to which I think my noble and gallant friend Lord Inge was referring, but there are difficulties that realistically and carefully one must face. If there are to be armed personnel on ships, put there by the military through these various methods, they have to be properly trained and advised, as my noble and gallant friend Lord Inge rightly said.

"Operation Atalanta has delivered substantial success — I do use that word — in its efforts. Through its direct military efforts, but also through its innovative approach in co-ordinating closely with industry and Governments, it has substantially reduced the risk of successful hijack in the Gulf of Aden. It has pioneered the use of the internationally recognised transit corridor and its partnership with industry associations, about which several noble Lords asked, has pushed hard the need for compliance with that best management practice. EU-NAVFOR has also worked with Egypt and the Suez Canal Authority to pass on information on best management practice to all ships going through the canal. It is noteworthy that every recent successful hijack in the Gulf of Aden has been the result, not surprisingly, of non-compliance shipping.

"Successfully combating this piracy infection in the wider Indian Ocean is a much more demanding task. There are 1.5 million square miles to cover-an area larger than the Mediterranean-and ensuring the same protection as in the Gulf of Aden would require hundreds of warships, which no country has today. However, the volume of trade is, of course, much lower and the practical and effective approach being taken by EU-NAVFOR in monitoring pirate action groups and disrupting their efforts has delivered positive results. To date, more than 60 pirate attacks have been successfully disrupted as a result of EU operations. The Government commend these proactive efforts most highly.

"I have suggested that, to do much more, the operation needs more assets; indeed, several of your Lordships have reinforced that obvious point. The commanders have said that they have sufficient assets to achieve their mandate, narrowly drawn, but quite rightly they want to do more. The Government have supported actively, including through our leadership in the contact group, the need for specific additional assets. Top of this list has been aerial surveillance assets, about which several of your Lordships made comments, but the Government are also trying to help to provide more oil tankers, more helicopter-capable warships and a greater use of military vessel protection detachments, as I mentioned.

"Let me deal with some of these issues more specifically, as noble Lords did in their speeches. On aerial surveillance, France, Germany, Spain, Luxembourg and Sweden are already providing maritime patrol aircraft coverage, but much more would certainly be welcome. The UK, it is true, is no longer able to provide support in this area, but we have been engaged in discussion with partners to provide more and to help in support with basing over this enormous area. I would like to single out the generous support of the Government of Japan, who in addition to sending warships have also deployed three maritime patrol aircraft, which make a vital contribution, supplying data to all the multinational operations. I was asked by my noble friends Lord Selkirk and Lord Avebury about UAVs. The UK has none of these. There are some in the coalition, but I cannot comment on details for security reasons.

"The UK is providing oil tanker support, a point that the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, raised, and we are discussing with partners whether they can do more, maximising the time that warships can stay on station. The Government are grateful in particular for the provision by the Government of Saudi Arabia of a tanker. Helicopter-capable ships are also essential, as helicopters are usually the first means of response and deterrence. I cite as an example the deployment by the Netherlands of a landing ship rather than a frigate, which has made a substantial contribution.

"I want to enlarge on what I said about vessel protection detachments. This means putting marine or other military personnel aboard a vulnerable vessel. They can help to ensure its security without the need for a frigate in close proximity, which, of course, can then free up the frigate for wider counter-piracy duties. There is a growing list of partners keen and willing to make their contribution in this way, in the most part partners who are unable to send warships. The use of VPDs both broadens the coalition and makes best use of the warships deployed-I think that that was the point that my noble and gallant friend Lord Inge rightly and perceptively made.

"Several of your Lordships mentioned the insurance industry, which is obviously important as well. There has been constant dialogue, through the contact group, with the insurance industry and the Government welcome the announcement at the working group meeting on 21 October-only the other day-by representatives of the insurance industry that they will require higher premiums for vehicles that are not seen to be complying with best management practice. We look forward to hearing a lot more about the impact of this development in practice, but it clearly makes sense, as it begins to introduce into the whole insurance pattern incentives to get real and to organise properly and in compliance with best management practice, rather than floating through serenely in a cavalier manner. That must be an advance.

"In its report, the committee highlighted the fact that the World Food Programme's use of small slow ships contravened the advice given to the shipping industry-a point that the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, and others raised. The programme has a dilemma: it wishes to maximise the food that it delivers, but the bigger, better and more modern the ships it has to charter, the more money goes on the ships rather than on the food. It is wrong, though, for military support to be unduly skewed to the protection of these deliveries if they can be done by other, better means. Negotiations are going on between the military operations, the United Nations and the World Food Programme to do better. I welcome the fact that these discussions include, once again, the greater use of vessel protection detachments. I am also pleased by discussions with other multinational and national operations to enable them to share the burden of these duties and therefore enable EU-NAVFOR to pursue its much wider mandate. Indeed, I welcome the fact that convoys have now been carried out by Russian ships, with NATO interests helping in this area, too, again reinforcing the impressive nature, almost unmatched in recent times, maybe even in wartime, of the co-ordination going on between the different navies and naval detachments of the world.

"I turn to the legal issues that were raised by several noble Lords. I make it clear that the UK will always prosecute pirates wherever there is a chance of success and I know that that is also the intent of the EU-NAVFOR naval commanders. We are grateful for the support of industry in helping to provide the witnesses who are essential to prosecute these cases.

"On a point that the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, raised, the UK and the EU are also providing technical and financial support to Kenya, the Seychelles, Somalia and soon, I hope, others, in order to support work in developing courts and prisons to accept more pirates. I suppose that in the longer term one would look to places that are relatively calm, such as Somaliland-in contrast to Somalia-for developments of that kind.

"Mr Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, has talked about some international facilities such as courts and prisons for dealing with pirates. Negotiations on an EU handover agreement with Mauritius, which the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, asked about, are now at an advanced stage and I expect renewed discussions to begin with Tanzania shortly. Of course there is a question over whether these countries have the capacity for these things-some concerns were expressed in Kenya-but nevertheless prosecutions have been carried out. I think that some are going on while I stand here. There are currently over 130 pirates in prison, of whom to date 54 have been successfully prosecuted and convicted, following the handover from counterpiracy operations. The eight pirates detained by HMS Cumberland in November 2008-that is a couple of years ago-are now serving 20 years in Kenyan prisons for piracy. That is a deterrent.

"I turn to the other major theme of the debate, spoken about perceptively by many of your Lordships, which is embraced in the words "root causes". There is wide acceptance that piracy off Somalia will not be stopped until the problems of lawlessness and instability within Somalia are addressed, a point correctly made by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, my noble friend Lord Avebury, the noble Lord, Lord Williams, and the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich. Foreign Office and DfID ministerial colleagues are working with African leaders and Foreign Ministers to ensure that a long-term solution for Somalia is found. That is, naturally, what one would say, but of course it embraces a huge challenge. It is important not just to stop piracy-that is not all that we are talking about-but to curb the much wider threats that emanate from Somalia towards British interests. Most notably, that includes terrorism-al-Qaeda-related, no doubt-but also includes the trafficking of people, weapons and drugs, and threatening the destabilisation of the wider region.

"As the noble Lord, Lord Williams, said in a very interesting contribution, al-Shabaab may well be benefiting from that. Certainly, al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda appear to have links. Then again, such is the complexity of the Somali situation that al-Shabaab may actually be working against the pirates. There was one report that they have cleared out the port of Eyl-for the benefit of Hansard, that is spelt E Y L-which was a pirate nest and from which the pirates have now fled. It is a complicated situation, but what can definitely be said is that many of these evil developments, including terrorism, are flourishing in that unsettled area.

"Finding solutions inside Somalia and in the region is therefore essential. The UK has played an important role in mapping a way forward through its leadership of the contact group working group on capability development. The contact group has agreed a needs assessment report, assembled by a UK-led team, making clear the key priorities for action. This is the outline of the plan for which many noble Lords today have rightly called. The Government also welcome the results of the Mauritius regional ministerial meeting on maritime security on 7 October, which agreed a strategy and action plan broadly consistent with the contact group assessment. Inside Somalia, it will be important to continue the work to support the development of good governance through the transitional federal Government.

"I know that the time limit is being pointed to, but there have been so many fascinating points that it would be impertinent not to refer to some of them. I move into the final phase by saying that it is obviously important to support economic development in coastal regions and to support community and religious leaders in continuing to speak out against the pirates, saying that what they are doing not only is morally wrong, obviously, but is distorting and destroying the economies of many coastal areas and delaying the establishment of law and order. The regional action plan agreed recently includes a request to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development to take forward work inside Somalia to address piracy at its roots. This is correct and welcome.

"I shall talk briefly about tackling financial flows, where the money goes and so on. I am afraid that the money disappears into lavish living — a Mercedes, new weapons, drugs and all sorts of other things — but we are working closely with international partners, as well as supporting the work of Interpol, Europol, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Financial Action Task Force towards the tracing and recovery of the illicit gains of piracy. We are also working with regional partners to develop effective anti-money-laundering legislation and action to enhance our ability to prosecute the financiers of piracy.

"The UK pays no ransom — that is absolutely against UK government policy — and we strongly counsel third parties against doing so. Obviously, though, if they are foreigners or non-British nationals, we do not have any direct influence.

"The Government agree with the committee's report of the continuing high value of Operation Atalanta. The Foreign Secretary has agreed with his European counterparts that, subject to scrutiny requirements of both Houses, the operation should be extended for a further two years, with Northwood continuing to act as the operation HQ and the UK continuing to provide the commander. The Government hope that this can shortly be agreed. The task ahead is tough. This is a serious danger globally and to our national interest and we intend to pursue it with all possible vigour."

75   See headnote: HC428-vii (2010-11), chapter 22 (10 November 2010). Back

76   See headnote. Back

77   See headnote: (31809) -: HC 428-ii (2010-11), chapter (15 September 2010). Back

78   Reproduced at the Annex to this chapter of our Report. Back

79   Available at Back

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