Combating Somali Piracy: the EU's Naval
Operation Atalanta |
1. During 2008, the EU and the UN Security Council
became increasingly concerned about piracy off the east coast
of Africa and in the Gulf of Aden. A large part of the world's
maritime traffic passes through this trade route and piracy was
posing an increasing threat. In particular, the World Food Programme
(WFP) suffered several attacks on its ships taking vital humanitarian
aid to Somalia, and it called upon the international community
to provide protection. Shipping companies were also concerned
about the protection and safety of their vessels, cargo and crew.
Concurrently the humanitarian situation in Somalia worsened considerably.
UN Security Council resolution 1838 noted reports that as many
as 3.5 million Somalis would be in need of food aid by the end
2. In a series of Security Council Resolutions,
the UN called on the international community to act (see Box 2)
and in December 2008 the EU established Operation Atalanta (see
Box 1), its first-ever naval Common Security and Defence Policy
(CSDP) operation. This was also the first military CSDP operation
in which the UK had taken a leading role.
3. This report examines the mandate and effectiveness
of EU Operation Atalanta as well as the key challenges facing
it and how to address them.
4. This report was prepared by Sub-Committee
C (Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development) whose members are
listed in Appendix 1. Those from whom we took evidence are listed
in Appendix 2. We are grateful to them all.
5. We make this report to the House for debate.
EU Operation Atalanta
The EU agreed to set up an Operation to combat piracy
at the 10 November 2008 Council.
This Operation, named EUNAVFOR SomaliaOperation Atalanta,
has been in operation since December 2008. It was originally set
up for one year and the common costs were specified as 8.3 million
euros for the initial year. On 8 December 2009, the Council of
the EU decided to extend its mandate for another year (until 12
The EU's Council conclusions of 26 May 2008 had earlier
expressed the Council's concern at the upsurge of pirate attacks
off the Somali coast, which affected humanitarian efforts and
international maritime traffic in the region and contributed to
continued violations of the UN arms embargo.
Operation Atalanta operates in a zone comprising
the south of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Somali basin and
part of the Indian Ocean, including the Seychelles. This is a
vast area, comparable to that of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Political and Security Committee (PSC) exercises
political control and strategic direction of the EU military operation,
under the responsibility of the Council of the European Union.
The EU Military Committee (EUMC) monitors the correct execution
of the operation. The Operation Commander, Rear Admiral Peter
Hudson RN (UK), currently commands the operation from the Operational
Headquarters (OHQ) at Northwood, United Kingdom.
More than twenty vessels and aircraft take part in
Atalanta. On 7 April 2010,
the following EU Member States were making a permanent operational
contribution to the operation: the Netherlands, Spain, Germany,
France, Greece, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Luxembourg and Portugal.
A number of other EU military personnel supplement the team at
the Northwood Operational Headquarters. Non-EU Member States Norway,
Croatia, Montenegro and Ukraine also participate in the Operation.
The UN Framework
|Operation Atalanta was launched in support of a series
of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) on Somalia:
- Resolution 1814 (2008) called
on the international community to take action to protect shipping
involved in the transport and delivery of humanitarian aid to
- In resolution 1816 (2008), the Security Council
expressed its concern at the threat that acts of piracy and armed
robbery against vessels posed to the delivery of humanitarian
aid to Somalia, the safety of commercial maritime routes and international
navigation. The Security Council authorised the states cooperating
with the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to enter
the territorial waters of Somalia and to use, in a manner consistent
with relevant international law, all necessary means to repress
acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.
- Resolution 1838 (2008), commended the ongoing
planning process towards a possible EU naval operation.
- Resolution 1897 (2009) renewed the Security Council's
call upon states and regional organisations to take part in the
fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia, in particular by
"deploying naval vessels, arms and military aircraft and
through seizures and disposition of boats, vessels, arms and other
related equipment ..."
The mandate and effectiveness
of Operation Atalanta
6. EU Operation Commander Rear Admiral Peter
Hudson RN told us that one of the strengths of Operation Atalanta
was the clarity of its mandate:
- to support the World Food Programme
(WFP) in its efforts to transport humanitarian aid into Somaliaa
- to support the African Union (AU) mission, AMISOM,
by protecting its ships supplying the Transitional Federal Government
(TFG) of Somalia in Mogadishu;
- to protect vulnerable shipping and work with
industry groups on how they should go through the high risk areas;
- to deter, disrupt and break up pirate groups
Recently the mandate has been extended to include
the monitoring of fishing activities.
7. We heard universal praise for the way in which
Operation Atalanta was run. Dr Lee Willett (Royal United
Services Institute for Defence and Security StudiesRUSI)
noted that the Operation had been launched in the space of only
10 weeks, which for "something of this size and significance
is quite an achievement". The UK had been welcomed as the
framework nation for the Operation due to the experience and credibility
of the Royal Navy. Siting the headquarters at Northwood made sense;
it already housed Navy and NATO operations, as well as being close
to London, home of the International Maritime Organization (IMO)
and a hub for the global shipping community (Q 164) (see
also Kopernicki QQ 214, 216, Simmonds Q 216).
8. Witnesses expressed concern about the dangers
of the possible spread of piracy, with copy-cat operations, if
nothing was done. Jan Kopernicki (Shell Shipping and Oil Companies
International Forum) said this had already happened on the West
African coast (Q 217).
9. Our witnesses agreed that Operation Atalanta
had been effective in the two main aspects of its mandate: protecting
WFP and AU ships and deterring and disrupting piracy. Rear Admiral
Hudson said that the EU Operation had a 100% successful record
in protecting WFP vessels. In 2009 Atalanta had escorted 49 WFP
ships carrying over 300,000 tonnes of food, as well as 14
African Union ships with supplies for AMISOM troops in Mogadishu.
According to EU figures, the number of successful pirate attacks
on larger merchant vessels had remained steady, with 46 in 2008
and 43 in 2009. He stressed that it was "quite a challenge"
to identify reports of genuine but unsuccessful pirate assaults:
a ship's master might see a fishing vessel or an illegal activity,
such as human smuggling, and report it as an attack (QQ 95,
10. Jason Alderwick (International Institute
for Strategic StudiesIISS) said that much progress had
been made in international efforts to combat piracy in the region,
which had previously been unchecked. Although the number of ships
taken by pirates was broadly the same over the previous 12 months,
the number of attempted attacks that had been thwarted had increased
by at least 70%. This was a result both of the presence of military
forces in the region and of ship owners, operators and other commercial
parties taking the issue seriously. Dr Willett agreed that
Atalanta was addressing the piracy problem, as well as providing
a presence in the region and giving greater confidence to the
shipping industry (QQ 160-1, 171).
11. Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian
Ocean is a serious and continuing threat to UK and EU interests.
The EU acted rapidly and decisively in response to this threat
by launching Operation Atalanta. This is a good example of the
EU successfully conducting foreign and security policy. We welcome
the lead role which the UK is playing in the Operation.
12. Operation Atalanta has proved itself a
credible force in combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the
Indian Ocean. It has been highly effective in protecting World
Food Programme and AMISOM logistics vessels, none of which has
so far been taken by pirates. It has also successfully deterred
and disrupted pirate threats to commercial shipping.
13. Piracy is deeply rooted in Somalia and
could spread to other countries in the region unless determined
steps are taken to address the problem of fragile states. There
is piracy elsewhere in the world and it could spread further if
the EU and its international partners do not show a determination
to eliminate it.
14. We believe that Atalanta's mandate should
be renewed in December 2010 and that the Government should continue
to make the Operational Headquarters in Northwood available for
A complex environment
15. Mr Alderwick commented that Atalanta
was operating in a "very complex environment". It was
the second or third busiest channel for maritime transport in
the world, in addition to the "myriad" local fishing
boats in the Gulf of Aden (Q 162).
16. Rear Admiral Hudson told us that about 25,000
ships transited the area every year, principally through the Gulf
of Aden, representing around 25 per cent of global trade. It was
a "vital strategic artery". An important energy supply
route led from the Gulf of Aden into Europe and across to America.
Container ships bound for the far east also regularly used that
route. On average between 75 and 100 ships transited every day,
depending on the season and economic cycles. In the Somali Basin,
the southern part of the area of operations, the traffic density
was much lower, around 600 to 1,000 ships annually (Q 96).
Pirate organisation and tactics
17. Pirates identify vulnerable ships which can
more easily be attacked. Rear Admiral Hudson told us that a set
of criteria had been established which were used to identify what
constituted a vulnerable ship: its speed, manoeuvrability, freeboard
and cargo and the number of people on board. The maritime security
centre then calculated whether the ship was high, medium or low
risk (Q 94).
18. Rear Admiral Hudson commented that the pirates
ran "adaptive organisations. They look at the conditions,
they look at where the military forces are and that is how they
are able to exploit the weaknesses in our armour". Following
the success of the international forces and those of Puntland
authorities in the Gulf of Aden, the pirates had sought alternative
criminal activity, including human smuggling. They were also moving
out into the Somali Basin using long-range skiffs or "mother
ships" towing attack skiffs behind them (Q 107) (see
Appendix 4). Mr Alderwick said that while the pirate organisations
were sophisticated, the conduct of pirate attacks was basic and
the state of the pirates' weaponry was poor. However, they were
becoming better at operating offshore, in particular by equipping
their boats with additional or more powerful engines (Q 172).
Atalanta sought to identify pirates based on the equipment they
carried: in particular the quantity of fuel and presence of more
powerful engines than were needed for fishing. Pirate equipment,
including ladders and weaponry, was easy to detect (Rear Admiral
Jones Q 8).
19. Mr Alderwick thought that one indication
of the success of the operation had been the displacement "arguably"
of activity by the pirates. Once the maritime forces in the Gulf
of Aden "were galvanised", activity was displaced further
into the Somali Basin, causing a separate tactical and operational
issue (Q 160).
20. The pirates were largely based around three
clans, which tended to have their own "pirate companies".
They left from numerous pirate ports, including coves and harbours
along the 3,000 km-long coast. They brought seized ships back
to a central location, where they maintained the security of the
ships and conducted ransom negotiations (Hudson Q 111). Some pirates
were subject to the influence of Islamic tribes, including Al-Shabab
and Al-Islamiya (Jones Q 10).
21. A significant number of Somali pirates
are organised in clan-based sophisticated criminal networks. However
the method of attack has remained basic. Ironically, it is a measure
of the success of Atalanta and other international forces in the
Gulf of Aden that pirates have been forced to operate further
offshore in the Indian Ocean. This increases the risk-to-reward
ratio for the pirates as they have to use mother ships which are
more easily identified by surveillance. The EU's efforts to combat
piracy must continue to be robust so as to increase this risk-to-reward
ratio. Given the displacement of piracy further into the Indian
Ocean, it is all the more important that Atalanta has the right
capabilities, especially airborne surveillance.
22. Despite praise for the Operation, our witnesses
identified a number of specific shortfallsin maritime surveillance,
tankers and medical support. Rear Admiral Philip Jones, EU Operation
Commander from December 2008 to June 2009, distinguished between
strategic intelligence, to which Atalanta had sufficient access,
and tactical "day-to-day" intelligence, which was "a
constant challenge". Identifying a pirate boat presented
difficulties from a legal point of view. "A pirate is only
a pirate when he is committing an act of piracy ... he may be
a people smuggler overnight taking [Somalis] to Yemen, ... a fisherman
the next morning and then, in the afternoon, go out to do some
piracy, and it is only when he commits the act of piracy that
he becomes liable to arrest and prosecution by the maritime forces"
23. Given the difficulty of identifying pirate
skiffs, Rear Admiral Jones stressed the importance of airborne
surveillance platforms, including maritime patrol aircraft. These
aircraft were "absolutely pivotal" because they could
detect the movement of pirate vessels at greater range and more
effectively than was possible using surface-borne radar and visual
imagery. Ship-based helicopters were also able to cover a wide
area and use a range of sensors to detect the movement of pirate
vessels. However, there was a gap in the Operation's knowledge
of pirate activity on land in Somalia (QQ 7-10). Rear Admiral
Hudson observed that maritime patrol aircraft were the asset that
Atalanta, NATO and the coalition forces needed most. Those running
Operation Atalanta had set a minimum threshold of three maritime
patrol aircraft to enable a full daily sortie in the Gulf of Aden,
but this requirement had not been met. Tankersto allow
mid-ocean refuellingand role two
medical facilities were also in short supply (QQ 135-136).
24. Mr Alderwick agreed that aviation assets
were a "great force multiplier", but that some states
contributing to the EU Operation had at times been unable to supply
a helicopter, although not in the UK's case (Q 164). Dr Willett
pointed out that capability shortfalls were best addressed on
an international basis. The UK had limited military assets, and
other nations should be encouraged to contribute. Luxembourg had
offered a maritime patrol aircraft, which was operating in the
Seychelles area. Saudi Arabia and Japan had each provided a tanker
to support international naval operations in the region (Q 193).
25. Mr Kopernicki (Shell Shipping and Oil
Companies International Forum) suggested that commercial tankers
could be chartered for refuelling purposes. Many tankers were
already fitted out with NATO-compatible connections. These tankers
could augment the international naval forces' fleet (Q 218).
However, FCO Minister Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead stated that
the use of commercial tankers was not currently assessed to be
the best means of meeting requirements "either operationally
or in particular most cost-effectively". Charter costs for
a medium ocean tanker were in the region of £11,000 per day
and the tanker could itself become a potential target for pirates
26. Admiral Hudson commented that the EU mission
had no unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of the type deployed in
Afghanistan, but the US operated them from the Seychelles. Asked
whether Atalanta should have UAVs, he commented that they were
in scarce supply and other operational theatres had a higher demand
for them (QQ 137-140). Atalanta had a good relationship with
the EU Satellite Centre and used "a variety of sources to
keep an eye on activity" (Q 116).
27. We are concerned that Atalanta's capability
shortfalls are preventing it from being even more effective in
tackling piracy. Airborne surveillance capabilitiesincluding
maritime patrol aircraft and helicoptersare crucial force
multipliers for Operation Atalanta, as they facilitate the identification
of suspected pirates. We welcome the support currently provided
by Luxembourg operating out of the Seychelles, but regret that
Atalanta still does not have access to sufficient surveillance
assets. Unmanned aerial vehicles directly serving Atalanta would,
in particular, be useful, but we recognise that they are needed
as a higher priority in combat zones.
28. Tanker support is needed to enable ships
participating in Atalanta and the NATO and coalition forces to
refuel in mid-ocean in order to maximise the time they spend at
sea combating piracy, rather than refuelling in port. Cover is
currently insufficient. The Government and the EU should continue
actively to encourage international partners to provide tankers
so that continuous cover can be provided.
29. The EU should also explore with Member
States how to increase access to medical facilities for surgical
and non-surgical interventions where there is also a shortage.
The World Food Programme
30. Mr Kopernicki told us that the WFP chartered
small, old, very slow ships, requiring Atalanta to deploy large
numbers of personnel and ships for long periods to steward them.
If the WFP could be persuaded or financially assisted to use larger,
more modern and faster ships, they would require far fewer troops
and ships to patrol, releasing resources to carry out anti-piracy
activity (Q 217). Chris Holtby (Deputy Head of Security Policy,
FCO) told us that, where possible, armed vessel protection detachments
(VPDs) were placed on WFP and other ships.
However, some flag states had not agreed to this, increasing their
vulnerability to attack. Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead said that
discussions were taking place between the WFP and the military
on ways to improve the situation and the Government had raised
the problem with the shipping industry (QQ 330-4).
31. Protecting World Food Programme vessels
delivering vital supplies to Somalia is an essential part of Atalanta's
mandate, which we fully support. However, the WFP's use of small,
slow ships requires greater military protection resources. The
Government and the EU should strongly encourage the WFP to charter
faster, larger and more modern vessels.
32. In addition shipping companies have a
vested interest in such measures as they would free up Atalanta's
ships to protect their vessels transiting the area. The Government
should consider establishing a partnership in which interested
companies would make a voluntary financial or in-kind contribution
to the WFP for chartering or purchasing satisfactory vessels.
A "friend of the WFP label" could be established under
the auspices of the EU or the IMO to recognise the contribution
of shipping companies. This would serve as an indication of their
commitment to corporate citizenship.
33. The WFP should also make it a condition
of tender that, when requested, the flag state allow military
personnel on board all WFP vessels used to supply Somalia. The
Government should pursue this objective with the WFP and other
donors, including the US as the primary donor.
Rules of engagement: detention
and prosecution of suspected pirates
34. Atalanta military personnel can arrest, detain
and transfer persons who are suspected of having committed or
who have committed acts of piracy or armed robbery in the areas
where they are present. They can seize the vessels of the pirates
or vessels captured following an act of piracy or an armed robbery
and which are in the hands of the pirates, as well as the goods
on board. The suspects can be prosecuted by an EU Member State
or by Kenya under an agreement signed with the EU on 6 March 2009
giving the Kenyan authorities the right to prosecute. An exchange
of letters concluded on 30 October 2009 between the EU and the
Republic of Seychelles allows the transfer of suspected pirates
and armed robbers apprehended by Atalanta in the operation area.
This arrangement constitutes an important new contribution to
the counter-piracy efforts.
On 22 March 2010 the Council of the EU authorised High Representative
Baroness Ashton of Upholland to open negotiations with Mauritius,
Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda with a view to concluding
further transfer agreements.
35. Commander Clive Dow RN told us that Atalanta
was a law enforcement operation rather than a war against pirates
or an armed conflict. It abided by the law of the sea, under customary
international law, the United Nations Convention on the Law of
the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Convention.
The principle of "reasonable force" applied.
Lethal force could only be employed where there was a threat to
life (QQ 112-3). On the rules of engagement, Rear Admiral
Hudson assured us that Atalanta had the necessary flexibility
to disrupt, deter and arrest pirates (Q 112).
36. Commander Dow said that Atalanta restricted
its prosecutions of suspects to pirates who were caught in the
act rather than those who looked suspicious on the basis of their
equipment. This was due to the arrangements for prosecution, generally
in Kenya and the Seychelles. Cases were selected to maximise the
chances of conviction, based on witness evidence of an act of
piracy. There was a comprehensive approach when it came to prosecutions
across the military operations as well as in the political arena.
The EU mission worked closely with the UN Office on Drugs and
Crime, which was charged with assisting capacity building, not
only in Kenya and the Seychelles, but in any other regional area
where prosecutions might take place. However it focused its efforts
on building capacity in Somalia, Somaliland
and Puntland. This ensured that prosecutions were efficiently
managed and that human rights standards were met. However, this
could not be done "in isolation" for pirates. Capacity
building in regional jurisdictions had to apply to the whole system
(QQ 113, 148).
37. We asked our witnesses whether human rights
standards were being met for the transfer, prosecution and detention
of suspected and convicted pirates. Lord Malloch-Brown (then FCO
Minister) assured us that Government policy was not to allow transfer
to third states of suspected pirates for prosecution unless the
Government were satisfied that they would not be subject to cruel
treatment, the death penalty or face a trial which was grossly
unfair. The UK had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
with Kenya in December 2008, and the Government's legal advisers
were completely satisfied that suitable guarantees were in place
on the sentencing of pirates and their conditions of detention.
The EU had since then agreed a similar MoU with Kenya as well
as an exchange of letters with the Seychelles authorities for
the transfer of suspected pirates (Q 62, p87).
38. Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead said that there
were 117 pirates in Kenyan prisons, 75 of whom were transferred
by Atalanta for prosecution. A further 11 pirate suspects would
be transferred to the Seychelles by Atalanta for prosecution (Q 283;
39. Speaking of the different organisations operating
to counter piracy in the area, Mr Alderwick said that the
advantage of the EU was that it had a variety of political instruments;
it could enter into political agreements with states in the region,
both as a collective entity and through its Member States. By
contrast, NATO was seen as a military organisation. The EU has
put in place status of forces agreements with states in the region.
These acted as a "force multiplier", as Atalanta could
operate out of Djibouti and Oman. The EU had also negotiated legal
frameworks for the prosecution of pirates, such as that with Kenya.
Atalanta had adopted a comprehensive and inter-agency approach,
by engaging ship-owners, operators, the British Chamber of Shipping
and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). This approach
was key to addressing the piracy issue (QQ 160-1).
40. We welcome the fact that the rules of
engagement of Operation Atalanta are sufficiently robust to allow
it to carry out its mandate.
41. We welcome the agreements that the EU
has signed with Kenya and the Seychelles for the transfer and
prosecution of suspected pirates, and the Government's assurance
that these agreements safeguard the human rights of those detained.
We commend Kenya and the Seychelles for showing leadership in
addressing a regional problem, although we are concerned by recent
reports that Kenya is considering no longer accepting suspected
pirates from international naval forces. The Government and the
EU should continue to assist both states in building the capacity
of their judicial and penal systems to cope with the increased
42. We also welcome the Council of the EU's
agreement to open negotiations on similar arrangements with other
countries in the region.
Coordination with NATO and other
43. The EU Operation is part of a wider international
effort to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of
Somalia and in the Indian Ocean. Two multinational forces operate
in this zone in close coordination with the EU: US-led coalition
CTF-151 and NATO. Russian, Indian, Japanese, Malaysian, South
Korean and Chinese vessels are also present in varying degrees.
Atalanta is in permanent liaison with all these forces. Mr Alderwick
pointed out that the effectiveness of international cooperation
had to be assessed bearing in mind that it had only been active
for just over a year (Q 160).
44. Rear Admiral Hudson said that coordination
in the region between the EU, NATO and coalition forces was working
well (Q 127). Jan Kopernicki agreed that cooperation with
other nations worked well, reflecting the broader engagement of
Atalanta with the US Fifth Fleet base in Bahrain (where the combined
task forces are based) and NATO deployments (Q 216).
45. The EU's in-theatre coordination with
NATO, the US-led coalition and other navies is working well. We
welcome the important role that other countries are playing in
combating piracy. Coordination with the Chinese navy in particular
The shipping industry
46. Dr Willett emphasised the role that
navies played in advising the shipping industry on best practice
prior to and during transit in the region in order to mitigate
the risk of pirate attacks. Mr Kopernicki told us that best
practice guidance had been produced by the Oil Companies International
Marine Forum (OCIMF).
It includes guidance on how the ship is sailed and manoeuvred,
including its speed, the use of defensive measures such as water
hoses and razor wire and means of preventing grappling hooks gripping
the vessel, and the use of low radars to detect the approach of
small boats. Dr Willett emphasised how well the Internationally
Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) through the Gulf of Aden is
considered to be operating, with only two ships attacked since
it was established. He highlighted that the owners of 25 per cent
of ships still chose not to use the IRTC and that these ships
included a high proportion of the vessels which were ultimately
attacked (QQ 174-7, 226). Mr Kopernicki added that the
owners of this substantial minority of ships tended to be small
independent, often family-owned firms with one or two ships who
decided not to use the IRTC but to take a chance (Q 228).
47. We welcome the best practice guidance
which has been produced and circulated by the Oil Companies International
Marine Forum and other organisations. We believe that the benefits
of adopting recommended best practice in mitigating the risk of
piracy attacks need to be more actively promoted among the shipping
industry. The Government, the EU and the shipping industry should
work on this collaboratively.
Armed guards on commercial shipping
48. Some ships carry personnel from private security
companies. Our witnesses agreed that these individuals should
not be armed, in line with industry best practice, as this would
increase the risks to which individuals and ships would be subjected
(Q 60). In contrast to their position regarding the use of
VPDs on WFP chartered ships (see paragraph 30 above), Mr Holtby
stated that the Government's clear position regarding the other
ships transiting the region was that private guards should not
take arms on board vessels. He considered that vulnerable ships
could be supported by other means such as through military co-operation
49. Mr Alderwick said that Atalanta had
adopted a comprehensive and inter-agency approach, by engaging
ship owners, operators, Chambers of Shipping and the IMO, unlike
other international forces in the region. This approach was key
to addressing the piracy issue (see paragraph 39 above) (QQ 160-1).
Mr Kopernicki thought that military-civilian cooperation
had been significant as the problem went beyond normal military
boundaries (Q 216).
50. We endorse the view of the shipping industry,
the IMO and the Government that private security guards should
not be placed on commercial shipping as this would increase the
risks to which the ships and crew were subject. However, military
personnel from national armed forces are occasionally placed on
commercial shipping on a case-by-case basis, and we believe this
should continue. The Government and the EU should ensure that
any such personnel receive prior specialised training to a high
standard for this role.
The insurance industry
51. Rear Admiral Hudson expressed regret that
little progress had been made in persuading insurance companies
to offer a discount in respect of ships that adhered to best practice
and self-protective measures (Q 105). Mr Alderwick suggested
that, in order to encourage the shipping industry to conform to
best practice, compliance with International Ship and Port Facility
Security Code (ISPS) guidelines, IMO Best Management Practices
or IRTC recommendations should be made a condition of being underwritten
by the insurance industry (Q 202). David Croom-Johnson (Aegis
Managing Agency) and Andrew Voke (LMA Marine Committee and Chaucer
Underwriting) made clear their support for the promotion of best
practice among the shipping industry in order to reduce risk but
stated that the insurance industry was reluctant to mandate such
an approach, and instead could only give advice, due to their
obligations under competition law (QQ 258-261, 268). Mr Kopernicki
agreed that the insurance industry would face difficulties in
adopting such an approach but also suggested that the Protection
and Indemnity (P&I) arm of the insurance industry could potentially
be more amenable in this respect
52. The insurance industry must accept a greater
degree of responsibility for promoting adherence to best practice
on deterring piracy by shipping companies. We strongly urge that
the terms and conditions of insurance effectively reflect the
need to discourage shipping companies from failing to follow recognised
Hostage taking and ransoms
53. Rear Admiral Hudson said that the piracy
of ships for ransom had generated around $80 million in 2009.
Generally, hostages had been well treated notwithstanding the
psychological impact. Tracing where the money went was a key part
of the overall assault on piracy but he did not believe there
were any direct links between terrorist organisations such as
Al-Qaeda and piracy (Q 108). We understand that it is very
difficult to ascertain the ultimate destination of proceeds of
piracy. Although the Government have so far found no evidence
of any operational or organisational link between piracy and terrorism,
there must be a danger of such links.
54. Lord Malloch-Brown (then FCO Minister) acknowledged
the reality that ransom payments were made by ship owners to save
the life of their crews, and confirmed that such payments were
not illegal under international law. However, the Government would
not endorse, condone or participate in such a transaction, in
line with the common EU position (QQ 79-80).
55. Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead confirmed that
the payment of ransoms was not a criminal offence under UK law;
the Government's position was that such payments should be discouraged
as they would only exacerbate the piracy problem.
Mr Holtby stated that once a ransom was received by pirates
it became criminal proceeds which could then technically be recovered
56. The insurance industry confirmed that the
payment of a ransom was insurable and it was not illegal to insure
such a payment (Croom-Johnson
Q 278). The FCO told us that the US had recently suggested
that pirate individuals should be designated under the UN anti-terror
sanctions regime, which could require States to freeze funds and
financial assets associated with an individual. They noted the
reported concerns of the shipping industry that such a move might
render the payment of ransoms more complicated and thus potentially
endanger the lives of crews (Q 340).
57. We support the status quo whereby the
payment of ransom to pirates is not a criminal offence under United
Kingdom law. We recommend that the Government continue to monitor
the potential risks of monies reaching terrorists.
58. We understand that skilled ransom negotiators
can help to keep risk to life and vessels, as well as ransom payments,
to a minimum. Where ship owners intend to pay a ransom to recover
their vessel and crew, we recommend that they use experienced
and effective ransom negotiators. Where insurance policies do
not already insist on experienced negotiators, they should do
Addressing the root causes: the
EU's comprehensive approach
59. Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead confirmed that
the EU was pursuing a "very comprehensive strategy"
to tackle Somali piracy and its root causes, which were instability
and lack of rule of law. The EU, the UK and other international
partners were members of the Contact Group on Somalia which supported
the efforts of the fledgling Transitional Federal Government,
the UN Political Office on Somalia and the African Union military
mission, AMISOM, towards the establishment of a peaceful environment.
The EU was considering how it could increase its commitment to
Somalia, including support for a general reinforcement of Somali
capacity to meet security challenges. In the north of Somalia,
in Somaliland and in Puntland, the UK, EU and UN were supporting
programmes to deliver rule of law projects, and DfID was providing
funding for alternative livelihoods. The EU had proposed a military
training mission that would contribute to strengthening the Somali
security forces (Q 295). The EU Foreign Affairs Council in
Brussels adopted a Council Decision on 25 January 2010 to launch
this mission. We were also told that the European Commission was
funding the salaries of a 5,000-strong police service in Mogadishu
60. Rear Admiral Hudson said that capacity building
was a "big issue" in the Horn of Africa. Somali institutions
and regional coastguard capabilities needed improvement. Initiatives
included the IMO's Djibouti Code of Conduct, information sharing
centres, and a coastguard training centre in Djibouti. The EU's
major initiative was to build security assurance in Somalia
and help the TFG in the transition to a proper federal government
in Somalia. In the 2009 revision to the EU mandate Atalanta had
taken on some modest capacity building in Kenya and Djibouti.
It was working with the Yemeni coastguard to build the capacity
of coastguards in Puntland and Somaliland, without detriment to
Atalanta's main operations (Q 106).
61. It is clear that without addressing the
root causes of the conflict in Somalia, piracy will continue to
flourish. The EU is rightly taking a comprehensive approach, seeking
to address political, economic and security aspects of the crisis
in a holistic way. However, the causes of fighting and insecurity
in Somalia are deep-rooted and complex. Progress on peace and
security will largely depend on the Somalis themselves, including
the actions of the fledgling Transitional Federal Government (TFG).
62. We fully support the EU's efforts to build
up the security sector in Somalia, in particular the training
of Somali police, in line with democratic norms, while providing
funding for vital humanitarian assistance. The EU's actions are
part of a joint effort by the UN and international partners. It
will be important that the international community makes a long-term
commitment to stabilising the country.
63. The UK and EU should also work with the
autonomous authorities in Somaliland and Puntland to build up
their coastguards and provide sources of legitimate employment
for their people.
1 Council Joint Action 2008/851/CFSP. Back
Information from the EU Council website, www.consilium.europa.eu Back
AMISOM is the African Union's Mission in Somalia, created in 2007
to implement a national security plan for Somalia, train Somali
forces and assist in creating a secure environment for the delivery
of humanitarian aid. Back
The distance from the waterline to the deck of a fully loaded
Puntland is a semi-autonomous region in the north east of Somalia. Back
Role two medical facilities offer a range of clinical capabilities.
For most NATO nations, surgical capability is their defining feature,
whereas for the UK (and the US), their defining feature is "consultant-led
resuscitation", both surgical and non-surgical (MOD information). Back
The Ukraine has recently offered special forces units to be deployed
on WFP ships. The EU has warmly welcomed this offer and is urgently
considering ways of responding positively. Back
EU Factsheet on Operation Atalanta, February 2010. Available at:
Foreign Affairs Council conclusions 22 March 2010 Back
The minimum force necessary to impose one's rights under the relevant
provisions: whether to board, search, seize, arrest, or detain
(Commander Dow Q 113). Back
Somaliland is an autonomous region in the north of Somalia. Back
Piracy-The East Africa/Somalia Situation: Practical Measures to
Avoid, Deter or Delay Piracy Attacks (OCIMF, 2009); see also Best
Management Practices to Deter Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off
the Coast of Somalia (Version 2-August 2009) produced by a number
of organisations. Back
Protection and indemnity insurance (P&I) is a form of marine
insurance against third party liabilities and expenses arising
from owning ships or operating ships as principals. It is distinct
from other forms of marine insurance such as hull and war risk
insurance. Cover is provided by an insurance mutual, called a
P&I Club, which is owned by its members who are the insured
House of Lords Hansard 12 December 2009 cols 977-978 Back
See also: Money laundering and the financing of terrorism
(19th Report of Session 2008-09, HL Paper 132), paragraph
Masefield AG v Amlin Corporate Member Ltd  EWHC 280
(Comm), 18 February 2010. Back
The FCO has recently allocated £400,000 to improve the Somaliland
Coast Guard's ability to provide for the safety of the coastal
population of Somaliland. Information provided by the FCO. Back