Turning the Tide on Piracy, Building Somalia's Future: Follow-up report on the EU's Operation Atalanta and beyond - European Union Committee Contents

Turning the Tide on Piracy, Building Somalia's Future: Follow-up report on the EU's Operation Atalanta and beyond


1.  In our previous report on Somali piracy in 2010[1] we welcomed the rapid and decisive reaction of the European Union to the serious and continuing threat presented to UK and EU interests by piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. The EU had addressed the problem in 2008 by launching the first ever EU naval mission, Operation Atalanta (EUNAVFOR), under its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and under British Command. This report examines developments in the European Union's activity in Somalia and on the seas around it since our previous report. It is intended as a short follow-up report, which does not necessarily examine all the issues regarding piracy.

2.  Piracy continues to be a problem off the Somali coast and in the Indian Ocean and in March 2012 Operation Atalanta's mandate was renewed until 2014. We examine the overall position on Somali piracy and in Somalia itself (paragraphs 5-12), and the current effectiveness of Operation Atlanta, the UK's contribution to it and the use of force on land (paragraphs 13-32). We look at the role of the shipping and insurance industries, the issues surrounding the use of armed guards on ships, and the capture and judicial processing of pirates (paragraphs 33-51). More broadly, we discuss regional and international cooperation (paragraphs 52-55) and the EU's Strategy for the Horn of Africa and its two other missions: the training mission in Uganda for Somali security forces (EUTM Somalia) and the mission to improve the coastal defences of states in the region (EUCAP Nestor) (paragraphs 56-67).

3.  This report was prepared by the EU Sub-Committee for External Affairs whose members are listed in Appendix 1. Those from whom we took evidence are listed in Appendix 2. We are grateful to them all.

4.  We make this report to the House for debate.

Piracy off Somalia—the extent of the problem

5.  We were told by our witnesses that, while piracy remained a problem, it had diminished in recent months. Nick Harvey MP, Minister for the Armed Forces, told us that eight pirated vessels and 215 hostages were currently held compared with 23 vessels and 501 hostages at the equivalent time the previous year.[2] He thought this was due to greater adherence by the shipping industry to best management practice.[3] Nick Pickard, Head of Security Policy, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), said that five ships had been pirated in the first six months of the year. He attributed the decrease in successful pirate attacks to the military presence and the use of armed guards on ships, as well as better adherence to best management practices by industry. It was significant that attacks which had not resulted in the capture of a ship had also dropped: there had been 101 in 2011 and 25 so far in 2012.[4]

6.  Dr Lee Willett, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told us, however, that the pirates were very adaptable and resilient and were now increasing their activity on land. They had a business model and would find alternative ways of operating, such as kidnapping on shore.[5] The Foreign Minister of the Seychelles, Mr Jean-Paul Adam, said that the smaller number of successful attacks had led to an increase in the level of ransom demands and greater violence.[6] The size of the area to be covered, and the need for high standards for the collection of evidence were also flagged up as problems.[7]

7.  We looked at the key question of whether to aim at eliminating piracy completely or containing it. Nick Pickard told us that elimination was the long-term policy[8] but our witnesses on the whole agreed that complete elimination was unlikely.[9] The Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs commented, however, that the international community should not treat piracy as an "acceptable symptom" with which it could live.[10]

The situation in Somalia

8.  In our previous report we commented that piracy would continue to flourish if the root causes of the conflict in Somalia were not addressed. Since then, the EU has formulated a Strategy for the Horn of Africa (see Box 2), appointed a Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, Alexander Rondos (Box 2), and launched two missions, a Training Mission in Uganda for Somali security forces (EUTM Somalia) and a new mission to strengthen the maritime capacity of the coastal states of East Africa (EUCAP Nestor) (Box 3). Alexander Rondos confirmed that stabilisation was the key to a reduction in piracy and a functioning economy.[11] We heard from our witnesses that the situation in Somalia was improving. African Union forces have successfully freed Mogadishu of Al Shabaab, although Al Shabaab continues to control large parts of southern and central Somalia. Dr Knox Chitiyo, Chatham House and Brenthurst Foundation, had seen a change in the last six months with Al Shabaab on the back foot.[12] There was less hostility from the Somali population to the African Union's Mission in Somalia (AMISOM),[13] a greater spirit of optimism and more talk of nation building.[14] The Seychelles Foreign Minister told us that the EU and African Union (AU) had a good working relationship which was positive overall.[15] Nick Kay, Africa Director, FCO, confirmed that AMISOM played a valuable role and that optimism was increasing about the military process, though the security situation remained dangerous.[16]

9.  We were told about the need to build up coastal communities if piracy was to be countered. Alexander Rondos believed that extending stabilisation and investing in coastal areas was "an absolute key in offering an alternative incentive to communities who feel they need to allow or tolerate piracy to operate from near their communities."[17] The Council of Somali Organisations (CSO), told us that the coastal communities had "persistently lobbied donors for small scale support to help them develop local mobile marine cadres" to patrol their coastline and provide a security presence to disrupt pirate groups on land and deter Al Shabaab activity in the hinterland. They called for regional coastal administrations to be given coastal patrols and a surveillance capability.[18]

10.  Alexander Rondos told us that the real transition would only occur after the Transitional Federal Government's (TFG)[19] mandate ended on 20 August 2012. The strategic challenge then would be to synchronise the civil with the military advance and to introduce federalism to "fold in" the areas currently not under the control of the TFG. He described the capital Mogadishu as a bustling city, but it was "an economy without a state."[20] Adjoa Anyimadu, Chatham House, commented that thousands of people were involved in piracy, including Somalis from the larger towns inland and from Puntland.[21]

11.  Containment of piracy has to remain the primary aim of the current mandate of Operation Atalanta. Nonetheless, elimination must be the longer term goal. This can be achieved only through the stabilisation of Somalia. The new EU Horn of Africa strategy and its CSDP missions are a welcome, but modest, step towards that goal.

12.  We welcome the growing involvement of African institutions, such as the African Union (AU), in the resolution of regional issues and we call on the EU, through its Head of Mission and Special Representative, to continue to build a strong relationship with the AU.

Operation Atalanta


EUNAVFOR Somalia—Operation Atalanta
The EU agreed to set up an Operation to combat piracy at the 10 November 2008 Council.[22] This Operation, named EUNAVFOR Somalia—Operation Atalanta, has been in effect 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. The Council has subsequently extended the mandate on three occasions.[23] Most recently in March 2012 the operation's mandate was extended until 12 December 2014. A budget of 14.9 million euros is provided for the common costs of the prolonged mandate until December 2014.

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 over 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 Duncan Potts RN (UK), currently commands the operation from the Operational Headquarters (OHQ) at Northwood, United Kingdom.

The composition of EUNAVFOR changes constantly due to the frequent rotation of units and varies according to the monsoon seasons in the Indian Ocean. However, it typically comprises 4-7 Surface Combat Vessels and 2-3 Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft.

Currently (July 2012), 22 EU Member States[24] are making an operational contribution to the operation which includes the provision of navy vessels (surface combat vessels and auxiliary ships), maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircrafts (MPRA), vessel protection detachment (VPD) teams, and military staff to work at the Northwood Operational Headquarters or onboard units. Non-EU Member States Norway, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine also participate in the Operation.

13.  Our witnesses for the most part praised Operation Atalanta: for the Minister it was "an exemplar for maritime cooperation with the other two missions in the area"[25] and Nick Pickard, FCO, told us that it had been very successful in achieving its objectives.[26] Alexander Rondos said it was the most active of all the anti-piracy operations despite the relatively small number of ships which it deployed. He attributed this to the skill of the command.[27] Lloyd's Market Association described the contribution of the Operation to checking piracy as "very significant" and maintained that, for insurers, the benefit had been clear risk mitigation: the situation would have been far worse without the naval operation.[28]

14.  According to the Council of Somali Organisations, however, Somalis frequently allege that Operation Atalanta's mandate is not concerned with the protection of Somalis, the Somali coastline or the Somali Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In this sense it was perceived as "yet another hostile foreign military force." They argued further that there was little if any commitment to protecting or monitoring fishing in Somali waters in official EU decisions and documents, and even less practical operational commitment, despite the fact that the Operation's mandate included monitoring fishing. They called for the mandate to be revised to protect Somali waters from illegal fishermen and those transporting toxic material and other dangerous materials. They told us that the lack of definition of Somalia's Exclusive Economic Zone was a particular concern and called for its immediate recognition.[29]

15.  At its origins in 2008, an essential part of the Operation's mandate was to protect Word Food Programme (WFP) ships delivering supplies to Somalia, and we complained in our previous report that the WFP's use of small, slow ships increased the need for military protection resources.[30] Nick Pickard and Captain David Reindorp RN, MOD, told us that the WFP had improved its performance, with better quality chartered ships. It was also now possible to use autonomous vessel protection detachments without the need for a close escort vessel.[31] Dr Chitiyo also confirmed that WFP ships were now well protected.[32]

16.  We asked whether cooperation with the other anti-piracy operations in the area continued to be good. Nick Pickard confirmed that this was the case, and said that a by-product had been good cooperation with nations such as China and India.[33] The Committee has expressed concern in the past about the problems caused for EU missions as a result of the lack of formal coordination between the EU and NATO,[34] but we were assured that this was not a cause for concern at sea for Operation Atalanta.[35]

17.  In our previous report we identified some critical capability shortfalls: airborne surveillance, including maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters, tanker support and medical facilities, and we recommended that they be addressed.[36] Nick Pickard assured us that these problems had been solved: a tanker was now available, and a short gap in medical facilities would soon be filled.[37] Dr Lee Willett, RUSI, told us that the necessary aerial surveillance was available, though the area was too vast for complete coverage.[38] The Seychelles Foreign Minister thought, however, that increased surveillance was needed. He commented that the Seychelles, from where the surveillance was conducted, had limited capabilities. He also added his concern that, although intelligence cooperation had improved and cooperation and information exchange with Atalanta was excellent, overall the intelligence gathered from US surveillance was transferred too slowly to the forces on the ground.[39] Christian Le Mière, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), also noted a shortage of helicopters for aerial surveillance and poor human intelligence due to a lack of presence on land.[40] Dr Chitiyo also called for increased human intelligence on the ground in Somalia to identify pirates.[41]

18.  The Operation's mandate will again come up for renewal in December 2014. We were told that a review of the Operation would take place six months in advance, and a decision would then be taken on its continuation.[42] Alexander Rondos thought that the Operation might need to be rolled over, though the EU needed to have prepared an exit strategy. However, he believed that the anti-piracy struggle would continue as long as there were pirates.[43] The Council of Somali Organisations also believed that it was likely that Operation Atalanta and the EU's other missions would need to be extended well beyond 2014, perhaps to 2018, because of the pace of training of the Somali security forces and deployment of the national Army.[44] Dr Willett cast doubt on how long western nations would want to sustain the operation as it needed both finance and patience. He thought therefore that there might be a question over the renewal of the mandate, though he warned that success in containing piracy was easily reversible if pressure was not maintained.[45]

19.  It is widely recognised that Operation Atalanta has been a success, but under current political conditions in Somalia, any reduction in effort will quickly result in a renewed upsurge of pirate activity. There is therefore a need for sustained commitment by the EU.

20.  The mandate of Operation Atalanta should be extended beyond December 2014. This would send a clear signal to those organisations and individuals that organise piracy that the EU will not walk away from confronting piracy in the Indian Ocean.

21.  Despite the evidence we received recommending that Operation Atalanta should undertake greater protection of Somali fishery grounds, we do not believe that the mission can undertake this additional role as well as protecting shipping. This task should be taken up by another organisation.

22.  Although most of the Committee's previous concerns about capability shortfalls have been addressed, problems remain about the Operation's ability to conduct surveillance over such a vast area, given that the piracy has spread so far into the Indian Ocean. We commend in particular the role of the Seychelles in making that broad operational cover far more effective than when we published our earlier report.

23.  However, the speed with which intelligence gathered in operational centres is transmitted to interested parties is a problem. This must be remedied.

24.  We note with satisfaction the high degree of practical cooperation which has evolved since our last report between the very varied international anti-piracy operations and national navies in the Indian Ocean. This includes Russia, China and India.

25.  We welcome also the strong spirit of practical cooperation between different international operations located in operational centres such as the Seychelles. This should act as a model for military cooperation in other theatres, especially EU-NATO cooperation.


26.  We heard praise for the UK's contribution, not only from Captain Reindorp, RN, who said that the EU appreciated the UK's leadership role commanding the Operation at Northwood, but also from Alexander Rondos; the Chamber of Shipping, for whom it was "highly effective"; and Lloyd's Market Association, who told us the Operation was ably co-ordinated at Northwood.[46] The Chamber of Shipping also commended the UK's cross-departmental dialogue and coordination of policy.[47] We were, however, surprised to hear from the Minister that only one Royal Navy ship was allocated to Operation Atalanta for three months in a two year period, though the UK also contributes vessels to the Combined Maritime Force and Ocean Shield, the NATO operation, which is also coordinated from Northwood.[48] This point was also noted by the Chamber of Shipping which thought this was a minimal contribution to force levels and considerably less than was required by UK shipping in the area. They told us that this level compared poorly with that made by other European navies such as Spain, France or Germany (and Denmark, although it was not under Operation Atalanta). In their view the provision of the resource at the Northwood Headquarters "should not preclude or justify the lack of warships deployed and contributing to counter-piracy operations."[49]

27.  Given the appreciation of the UK's leadership of this naval operation we recommend strongly that the Government should continue in this role at the next review. UK leadership of Atalanta is effective and it brings credit to the UK.

28.  It would be desirable for the UK to increase its contribution of vessels to Operation Atalanta. However, we recognise the financial constraints and consider that its command role is a compensation for its limited contribution of vessels.


29.  We asked our witnesses about the significance of the attack on the land base of the pirates in May 2012, a new development in Operation Atalanta's activity since our previous report following the extension of its mandate in March 2012. Dr Willett told us that six Member States had been involved: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark and Portugal.[50] Captain Reindorp told us that it had been the first time that a counter-piracy activity had been conducted ashore.[51] He assured us that intelligence from the ground was good and that the attack had only targeted pirate equipment, not people. Its main importance was that it had disrupted the pirates' "strategic centre of gravity".[52] According to Nick Pickard and Dr Willett, its aim had been to demonstrate to the pirates that they were not invulnerable ashore.[53] Further attacks were possible at a time of the choosing of the Force Commander, to whom the responsibility was delegated.[54]

30.  For Alexander Rondos, the attack had been an interesting signal that the EU had been prepared to fire shots "in anger".[55] Dr Willett also thought that it had been fundamental in demonstrating that the navies concerned and their national capitals were prepared to authorise an increased use of force and to entertain the risks that might bring.[56] By contrast Christian Le Mière, IISS, argued that, while on-land attacks had the potential to be a "game-changer", the attack in May had been "so benign as to be largely ineffective."[57]

31.  We enquired about the legality of the attacks. Captain Reindorp assured us that the attacks were legal in international law as self defence, and Alexander Rondos told us that the legal basis was sound, with clear rules of engagement.[58] However, there were different opinions about how the attack had been received by the Somali population. Nick Pickard told us that the TFG had been calling for the attack and he understood that it had been well received by the rest of the Somali population.[59] Alexander Rondos said that approval had been given by the Somali government and the coastal states. This had been a precondition of proceeding with the operation. The official reaction of the surrounding states had been satisfaction, though this had not necessarily been made public.[60] The Seychelles Foreign Minister said the Seychelles had welcomed the attack and that it had been done "in the right way" because the TFG had accepted it as a necessary part of the fight, though they had not necessarily welcomed it.[61] Dr Chitiyo also said that in Puntland there had been a complaint about the lack of prior consultation by the EU.[62] The Council of Somali Organisations told us that the attack on land had been "greeted with incredulity" locally and they thought it might have been intended for domestic political consumption internationally, rather than as a message to pirate groups. They also criticised the "more aggressive posture of naval forces" operating closer to the shoreline for incidents in which, they said, innocent Somali fishermen had been killed due to "misidentifications".[63]

32.  We welcome the EU Atalanta attack on the pirate land base as an effective demonstration to the pirates that they are not invulnerable on land.

Shipping and insurance industries

33.  In our last report we examined the role of the shipping and insurance industries. We thought that the benefits of adopting recommended best practice in mitigating the risk of piracy attacks needed to be more actively promoted among the shipping industry by the Government, the EU and the industry itself. We also believed that the insurance industry should accept a greater degree of responsibility for promoting adherence to this best practice and we urged that the terms and conditions of insurance should reflect the need to discourage shipping companies from failing to follow recognised best practice.[64]

34.  We were given evidence that the performance of the shipping and insurance industries had been encouraging. Nick Pickard told us that the insurance industry in London and elsewhere was making significant efforts to combat the problem: 70% overall and 92% of UK flagged vessels used self-protection, (which includes such ship protection measures (SPMs) as the use of razor wire and water or foam) though the Government's aim was 100%.[65] The Chamber of Shipping confirmed a level of around 30% of non-compliance with Best Management Practice (BMP) in the (non UK) world's fleet which continued to be a problem.[66] Dr Willett gave a slightly lower figure of 25% for those companies which did not use best practice (such as notifying the relevant authorities of the vessel's navigation through the high-risk area and the use of SPMs). Adjoa Anyimadu, Chatham House, confirmed that irresponsible ship owners persisted.[67] The Chamber of Shipping accepted that there were no easy or short-term solutions to the threats but said that it continued to be fully engaged in many strands of activity, including optimising vessel self-protection measures, implementing Best Management Practices as outlined in BMPs—Version 4, (see paragraph 5), ensuring an effective regime including third party accreditation and international standards for Private Maritime Security Companies and their Personnel.[68]


35.  In our previous report we endorsed the view of the shipping industry, the International Maritime Organisation (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. In 2011, however, the Government revised their policy to enable UK-flagged ships to use armed guards and in November 2011, the Department for Transport, published guidance for UK-flagged shipping.[69] We were told that the issue was legally complex as various jurisdictions were involved, but that no ships with armed guards had been successfully pirated.[70] The provisions only applied to high risk areas and for ships above a certain tonnage. The decision on what constituted high risk was made by the Lloyds Joint War Committee. The UK was awaiting standard-setting by the international community, which had started in the International Maritime Organization (IMO).[71] Dr Chitiyo also warned that when pirates managed to access a ship with armed guards, it had resulted in greater attacks on hostages.[72]

36.  Dr Willett believed that the use of armed guards, together with the proximity of naval ships, acted as a deterrent to pirates.[73] The Chamber of Shipping outlined the initial resistance of UK shipping companies to the use of armed guards because of the legal, liability and safety difficulties involved in their employment and the presence of weapons on board civilian ships. The industry also feared that the use of firearms by civilians in self-defence could lead to an escalation in their use and other violence by pirates. The Chamber said, though, that there had been no evidence of escalation to date, and it awaited the arrangements for the third party accreditation of private security to internationally agreed standards, which was expected by the end of 2012. Reflecting the Government's points, the Chamber outlined their continuing concerns about the use of private armed guards which they considered should be temporary and exceptional and should not become institutionalised: such guards were not legal or readily accepted in the jurisdictions of many third states, standards might vary and some security companies might not comply with the established Rules for the Use of Force, training and safety requirements or the export and import and licensing requirements for their firearms and ammunition.[74] The Chamber expressed disappointment at the MOD's decision not to resource Vessel Protection Detachments (VPDs) of military personnel: some already existed for MOD cargoes on civilian ships and their use could have been extended.[75]

37.  Lloyd's Market Association offered the perspective from the insurance industry. They told us that insurers were pleased about the UK Government's guidance to shipping companies on armed guards but said they were "disquieted" by two loopholes: the exclusion of vessels under 500 gross tonnage and the proviso that arms could only be carried in the high risk area, which presented legal complications on weapon sourcing and access. They added that this also presented practical problems for those embarking and disembarking teams as both had to be done within the High Risk Area, but not all countries and their ports allowed this and it was impractical in mid-ocean. Moreover, UK security teams were prevented from using floating arsenals, so that security teams from countries which allowed such access could displace the more professional and better qualified UK teams. They believed that more needed to be done in the accreditation area as the efficiency and competence of a security provider could only be measured by word of mouth.[76]

38.  We have revised our view on the carriage of armed guards on ships in the light of the fact that no ships carrying armed guards have so far been successfully pirated and violence has apparently not escalated. We now believe that this practice should continue, provided that the guards are properly trained to a high standard to avoid accidental injury to innocent seafarers, and accredited. The Government and the EU High Representative should so advise all EU Member States.

Pirate handling

39.  We examined the way in which pirates were dealt with after capture and the extent to which states in the region were involved in this process. We were told that pirates were handled with great care. Pirates were detained on the vessel which had apprehended them until a decision was made on judicial handling, when they were delivered into a port.[77] The majority of prisoners were dealt with under the legal systems of states in the region. The Seychelles signed an MOU with the EU in 2009 to take alleged pirates and, following the London Conference on Somalia in February 2012, negotiations were underway with Mauritius and Tanzania. Kenya has signed up to a regional burden-sharing agreement.[78]

40.  Alexander Rondos told us that the Seychelles and Mauritius had been the most helpful countries in accepting pirates for prosecution.[79] Adjoa Anyimadu said that Kenya as well as the Seychelles was at the forefront of prosecuting pirates.[80] The Seychelles Foreign Minister informed us that the Seychelles currently held over 100 pirate prisoners, and had conducted more piracy trials than any other country (some 140 to 150), but that constituted a problem: pirates could not be held there forever, particularly when the Seychelles only had prison places for 60 pirates. With sentences normally amounting to 10 to 15 years, this was also a problem for other countries which had agreed to take pirates for prosecution.[81] Adjoa Anyimadu thought that for African regional states, the ability to transfer convicted pirates to Somalia, in Somaliland and Puntland,[82] meant that they were more likely to conduct prosecutions, as they would not have to look after them.[83] The Council of Somali Organisations raised concerns about the legality and fairness of piracy prosecutions, in particular of minors, and argued that the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights should apply as soon as a pirate was detained, which they did not believe was always the case; nor, in their view, did the trials meet UN standards.[84]

41.  The Seychelles Foreign Minister considered that the way forward was to transfer pirates to their state of origin for detention and said that his country had an agreement with Somaliland where the UN ran and monitored prisons.[85] Nick Pickard told us that agreements on prisons had been negotiated with both Puntland and Somaliland, although the prisons in Puntland were not yet ready. The first transfer of 17 pirates from the Seychelles to a UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) refurbished prison in Hargeisa, Somaliland, had taken place in March 2012.[86] We were, however, given a word of warning by Adjoa Anyimadu that some links existed between elements in Puntland and the pirates. She also pointed out that care was needed in engaging with Puntland because the international community recognised the TFG.[87] We expressed concern about prisons being located in Puntland, if people sympathetic to piracy were located there (see also paragraph 10). Dr Chitiyo said that there had been issues over pirate handling with Puntland, where the EU should re-engage.[88]

42.  We asked about the advisability of returning convicted pirates to other areas of Somalia to serve their sentences, but were assured by Nick Pickard that prisoners were not being returned to the part of Somalia under the TFG and that Somaliland was "a relatively functioning state".[89] Nick Kay, Africa Director, FCO, said that it was not yet possible to establish when conditions might be right to return pirates to other areas of Somalia. Movement on this would depend on progress in institution building. He doubted that it would be in 2012.[90]

43.  We were told that prisons for pirates in Somaliland and Puntland were built by the UNODC who had made efforts to increase capacity. UNODC mentored and managed the prisons as part of a regional capacity building development project in which the UK had confidence. The guards were local and not armed.[91] Nick Pickard also told us that the UN prisons were built to international standards specifically for pirates and were better than ordinary prisons. The significant difference in standards presented a problem for all the countries concerned.[92]

44.  We asked about the effect of long sentences in Somalia on the pirates. The Seychelles Foreign Minister thought that it sent a clear message to pirates that piracy did not pay.[93] Dr Willett told us that some estimates of 2000 pirates awaiting trial in various countries had been made. The message that a whole generation of young men had effectively gone would have been transmitted to the Somali population.[94] Adjoa Anyimadu also thought that it was important to transmit the message to the Somali population that piracy affected them, and was not just the concern of western governments and the international shipping industry.[95] We were told by the Council of Somali Organisations that many minors were detained and convicted for piracy, in contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Some were former child soldiers pressed into the service of pirate groups or forced through poverty to become pirates.[96] We asked whether rehabilitation could be possible, especially for young pirates. Alexander Rondos thought that the European Development Fund (EDF) would and should be considered for such a programme.[97]

45.  We were told by Nick Pickard that insurance companies still insured for ransoms.[98] Adjoa Anyimadu told us that the UK had led the international community on the question of ransom payments which had raised awareness among insurers of their responsibilities and of the political interest in their activities. The industry had noted the suggestion that such payments could be banned, leading to improvements.[99] Christian Le Mière thought that the new piracy ransoms international task force convened by the UK[100] had the potential to scope the moral and policy-related problems of permitting ransom payments.[101]

46.  We recall that in our report on money laundering, which was published in July 2009, we recommended that in every case of piracy where a ransom had been demanded and the payment was being assembled in the United Kingdom, those involved had a duty to seek consent for the ransom payment from the Serious Organised Crime Agency.[102]

47.  The programme of agreements for judicial process with countries of the region has been successfully initiated, but now needs to be pursued vigorously. The Seychelles appears so far to be bearing a heavier burden than other countries and steps should be taken to ease the pressure on the Seychelles.

48.  We have some doubts about the wisdom of transferring sentenced pirates back to Somalia. This policy should be pursued with caution, ensuring that all pirate prisons are staffed by personnel who are properly trained and equipped to prevent breakouts. The EU should work with the UN to monitor these prisons.

49.  We have concerns about the difference in quality between UN constructed pirate prisons and local prisons, which must lead to problems for the countries concerned, but we see no way of avoiding the problem as the international community is unlikely in the foreseeable future to pay to upgrade all the prisons in the countries affected.

50.  We accept fully that imprisonment should be seen as a very real deterrent but the agencies involved should introduce some measure of rehabilitation for those convicted for piracy, particularly for younger prisoners.

51.  We reiterate our previous conclusion in our 2009 report that those involved in assembling ransoms in the United Kingdom have a duty to seek consent for its payment and that not to do so, if necessary by filing a Suspicious Activity Report,[103] may result in the commission of a criminal offence. We request that the Government now respond substantively to this recommendation.

Regional and international cooperation

52.  We asked our witnesses about the effect of piracy on the region and heard from the Seychelles Foreign Minister of the harmful effect on its economy, resulting in a 4% decline in GDP and the stretch on its resources, particularly given the large area of its territorial waters which were affected.[104] Adjoa Anyimadu thought that the reaction of the littoral states in Africa to counter-piracy had been considerably slower than the western approach but, as piracy moved further south and into the Indian Ocean, the eastern coastal states of Africa were affected, in terms of the perception of risk for investors, particularly for Kenya, and for tourism in Tanzania as well as the Seychelles. This had encouraged them to start thinking about coordinating their efforts.[105]

53.  Dr Willett told us that the Chinese were now offering to accompany WFP and other nations' ships as part of a wider dynamic in their Indian Ocean political strategy. They were making a useful contribution and he thought that their presence should be welcomed.[106] Alexander Rondos believed that the Gulf States should be engaged in discussions on the future of Somalia as well as dealing with Somali piracy given their extensive connections with Somalia. They could share some of the costs of providing security to the Gulf, and their capabilities would also be welcome, if they were offered and if they were incorporated in an agreed framework. He also suggested that an offer from the Gulf States to prosecute and imprison pirates would be welcome. So far the United Arab Emirates had provided funding and had hosted a conference in Dubai.[107] Bahrain hosts a regular meeting on shared information.[108]

54.  We welcome the involvement of China in countering piracy off the Horn of Africa as evidence of their increasing cooperation with the international community.

55.  We believe that a greater effort should be made to involve the Gulf States in solving the problems of both piracy and the situation in Somalia, given their close links with Somalia and their evident interest in keeping the shipping lanes clear.

The EU's Strategy for the Horn of Africa


The EU's Horn of Africa Strategy
On 14 November 2011 the Foreign Affairs Council adopted a "Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa", known as the Horn of Africa Strategy.[109] The Horn of Africa is defined as the countries belonging to the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD)—Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda. The Strategic Framework sets out the EU's overall engagement with the region and aims to deliver the EU's objective to support the people of the region in achieving greater peace, stability, security, prosperity and accountable government, thereby addressing many of the causes of the instability, conflict and poverty in the region. EU NAVFOR Atalanta now operates within this wider framework.

The Strategic Framework states that the EU will pay special attention to the root causes and drivers of conflict and to lagging development. It notes that the absence of the rule of law or an administrative vacuum has permitted piracy and terrorism to flourish in Somalia; piracy has reached a scale that threatens not only the security of Somalia, but also the wider international community, including the interests of EU Member States. The Strategic Framework identifies many other challenges that the region faces (inter-state rivalry, poverty, climate change, migration, small arms proliferation).

The Strategic Framework sets out the various forms of EU engagement in the region. The involvement is focused on five main areas: the development partnership, the political dialogue, the responses to crises, the management of crises and the trade relationship.

In the context of the Strategic Framework, the High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, made a proposal to appoint an EU Special Representative (EUSR) for the Horn of Africa to coordinate the EU's efforts in the region. On 1 January 2012 Alexander Rondos, a Greek national with extensive diplomatic experience in Eastern Africa, was appointed to this role. He was tasked to focus initially on Somalia and the regional dimensions of the conflict there, as well as on piracy.

56.  In 2011 the formulation by the EU of its Strategy for the Horn of Africa, and in 2012 the appointment of a Special Representative (EUSR), were efforts to coordinate its different missions in the region. In addition to Operation Atalanta (EUNAVFOR), these are the EU's Training Mission in Uganda for Somali security sector training (EUTM Somalia) and, more recently, a mission to develop the region's coastal defence capability (EUCAP Nestor) (see paragraph 8). Nick Kay believed that these two developments marked a step-change in the EU's approach to the area.[110] Alexander Rondos thought his role as EUSR allowed him flexibility to travel round the region and to look at the broader framework. He commented that he was content with his resources so far and would not interfere in specific operations.[111] Adjoa Anyimadu praised the Strategy's holistic approach and said that the EU's effectiveness had greatly improved. She believed that increased funds to the countries of the region would eventually prove to be effective.[112] The Council of Somali Organisations believed, however, that the absence of a permanent diplomatic presence and secure embassy compounds in Mogadishu damaged the credibility of the UK and its EU partners, while they operated "by remote control" from Nairobi.[113]


EU Missions for Somalia

EU Training Mission Somalia (EUTM Somalia)

On 15 February 2010, the Council adopted Decision 2010/96/CFSP on an EU military mission to contribute to the training of Somali security forces (EUTM Somalia). EUTM Somalia has so far supported the training of more than 1,800 Somali soldiers, including officers. The Council decided in July 2011 to extend the training mission until the end of 2012.[114] The training focuses on developing Command and Control and specialised capabilities and on self-training capacities for the Somali National Security Forces, with a view to transferring EU training expertise to local actors.

Regional Maritime Capacity Building for the Horn of Africa and the Western Indian Ocean (EUCAP Nestor)

The Council adopted Decision 2012/389/CFSP on 16 July 2012 launching a new civilian strengthening mission under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in order to support regional maritime capacities in the Horn of Africa and the Western Indian Ocean states. EUCAP Nestor has two main objectives: strengthening the sea-going maritime capacity of the countries in the region; and strengthening the rule of law sector in Somalia. In particular, the mission will support the "setting up" and training of a land-based coastal police force.

57.  Dr Chitiyo believed that EUTM Somalia had been responsible for greater professionalism in the Somali forces.[115] Rachel Turner, Director East and Central Africa, Department for International Development (DfID), told us that monitoring of the training was undertaken by international organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the stipends for the police were paid by the EU.[116] For Alexander Rondos it was important for a mix of clans to be represented in the EUTM, and for a programme for security sector reform to be developed.[117]

58.  The newest civilian mission in the area is EUCAP Nestor, launched on 16 July 2012, with the aim of supporting regional maritime capacity building in the Horn of Africa and the Western Indian Ocean states as part of the EU's comprehensive approach to fighting piracy and instability in the region. It will consist of a team of around 175 people working to reinforce the capacity of states in the region to govern their territorial waters effectively. Initially its geographical focus will be Djibouti, Kenya, the Seychelles and Somalia. The mission will also be deployed in Tanzania when an invitation is received from its authorities. In Somalia the mission aims also to train a coastal police force and judges, with expert advice on legal, policy and operational matters concerning maritime security. It is intended also to deliver coastguard training and to help to procure the necessary equipment.[118] Alexander Rondos hoped that EUCAP Nestor would quickly "get off the ground".[119] The FCO told us that the setting up was going well and that the UK had put forward seven candidates for five positions.[120] The Seychelles Foreign Minister thought that, while the EU's effectiveness had "improved immensely", his government believed that giving more resources to the countries of the region to build up their capacity would improve its effectiveness further. This would cost the EU less in the longer term.[121]

59.  We commend the High Representative's efforts to formulate a comprehensive plan for the EU's activity in the Horn of Africa by encompassing all the EU's activity under the Strategy for the Horn of Africa.

60.  The EU's Training Mission for Somali security forces in Uganda (EUTM Somalia) has produced useful results and should be continued. The EU should pay attention to the retention of these forces with continuing stipends for those who have been trained.

61.  The aim of the new EUCAP Nestor mission to improve the capabilities of the coastal states of East Africa will be one of the most significant developments in combating piracy from the land. It should be built up to strength as soon as possible and supported in its development. EUCAP Nestor could and should be the gateway to a permanent solution to Somali piracy.

EU Development assistance for Somalia

62.  We heard praise from DfID for the EU's aid work in Somalia. Rachel Turner told us that the EU was the second largest donor to Somalia (after the US). She said that EU programmes showed flexibility and responsiveness to the needs on the ground and some had a good reputation for delivering results. Measurements for quality were in place and coordination from Nairobi worked well. The EU had been the biggest donor working in the economic infrastructure in the water sector, particularly in water supply, where it had played a critical role. It was an important player in the agriculture and livestock sectors. The EU was also the lead donor in the education sector and had made a difference despite low enrolment rates. The EU's aim was to build local capacity, although the environment was complex.[122] Alexander Rondos also told us that the EU wished to convey the message that it would in future require more discussion with the Somalis about politics and security in order to end the perception of the EU as simply a "cash cow." The EU would need funds for this capacity building.[123]

63.  On humanitarian aid Rachel Turner told us that the amount provided through the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) was also significant and its response to the need had been critical.[124] Alexander Rondos praised ECHO's forward thinking, but he said that it was stretched as it also needed to fund the crises in Sudan and the Sahel.[125]

64.  One of the problems flagged up to us was the difficulty of access to areas not under the control of the TFG. Rachel Turner told us that the EU used NGOs to disburse aid. She thought, however, that the EU might make greater use of private firms, as the UK did.[126] Alexander Rondos pointed out that lack of access to some areas created difficulties for the disbursement of EU aid as it was impossible to conduct the necessary audit on how the funds were spent. He added that Al Shabaab only allowed Muslim NGOs to operate in the areas it controlled and he therefore made a plea for funding to be directed to these NGOs.[127] Our witnesses also spoke of the importance of the work of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD).[128] Nick Kay told us that it was active in developing stabilisation and planning for the liberated areas of Somalia.[129] Both Alexander Rondos and Dr Chitiyo believed there should be greater EU engagement with IGAD.[130] The Council of Somali Organisations emphasised that the "untapped" resource of the Somali diaspora could be used to provide solutions to undermine piracy "by investing in coastal communities and developing alternative livelihoods for young people." They thought that this resource should be better connected with donor activity, which was absent from the coastal regions most affected by piracy.[131]

65.  We also asked if EU aid could be used for prison building and were told by Adjoa Anyimadu that European Development Funds (EDF) could only be used for general support.[132] A number of individual Member States were, however, providing funds for prisons.[133] The Seychelles Foreign Minister also told us that the assistance of Euros 3 million his country received as budget support from the EU to mitigate the cost of piracy was insufficient as under EU rules it was designated for social support, rather than the fight against piracy.[134] An interesting point was made by Alexander Rondos, who told us that development aid was used to fund AMISOM via the Africa Peace Facility, so that the EU was effectively funding a war in Africa. The logic for this use of development aid was that there was no development without security.[135] The Seychelles Foreign Minister welcomed the EU's recent increase in funding for AMISOM and the good working relations between the EU and the African Union (AU).[136]

66.  The EU's development aid will continue to be necessary for the foreseeable future. It should focus on providing alternative livelihoods for the Somali people to assist with reducing the need felt by some Somalis to resort to piracy. It should also aim to develop Somali capacity, thereby reducing aid dependency in the longer term.

  1. We commend the support given by the EU to AMISOM, which is aiming to remove the threat of Al Shabaab and improve the security of the Somali people.

1   12th Report (2009-10) Combating Somali Piracy: the EU's Naval Operation Atalanta (HL Paper 103) Back

2   Q 67, evidence taken on 14 June 2012, also Le Mière, paragraphs 1, 2, who quoted International Maritime Bureau estimates as 178 sailors held on 12 ships and EUNAVFOR estimates of 213 hostages on seven ships, evidence sent on 22 June 2012.  Back

3   BMP-Version 4, August 2011: Error! Bookmark not defined. lists three fundamental requirements: registration of transit through the high-risk area with the Maritime Security Centre-Horn of Africa (MSCHOA), reporting to the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) and implementing Ship Protection Measures (SPMs).
Ibid, also Le Mière, paragraph 8 

4   Q 110, evidence taken on 21 June 2012, see also Le Mière, paragraphs 3, 4 Back

5   Q 27, also Pickard Q 113, Anyimadu Q 21, Chamber of Shipping, paragraph 4, Rondos Q 180 Back

6   Q 2 Back

7   Pickard Q 110 Back

8   Q 114 Back

9   Chitiyo Q 33, Willett Q 33, Anyimadu Q 37, the Minister Q 67 Back

10   Adam Q 1 Back

11   QQ 179, 228 Back

12   QQ 21, 49

Al Shabaab ("The Youth", also known as Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin) is a Somali based terrorist organisation fighting the UN backed Transitional Federal Government. In 2006 it emerged as the radical youth wing of Somalia's now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts, and fought Ethiopian forces backing the weak interim government. In 2012 a merger was announced with Al Qaeda.  Back

13   AMISOM was 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. The current peacekeepers in Somalia come mainly from Uganda and Burundi. Kenya signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union Commission on 2 June 2012. The agreement governs Kenya's contribution of troops and resources to AMISOM. The Djibouti Peace Agreement prohibited countries neighbouring Somalia from contributing troops to any peacekeeping force. Ethiopian troops have been operating in Somalia since 2006 although not under AMISOM command. Back

14   Q 50 Back

15   Q 9 Back

16   Q 175 Back

17   Q 179, also Council of Somali Organisations  Back

18   Council of Somali Organisations Back

19   The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in 2004 succeeded the previous Transitional National Government (TNG) which was established in April-May 2000 at the Djibouti Somalia National Peace Conference. In June 2011, the mandates of the President, the Parliament, Speaker and Deputies were extended until 20 August 2012. Thereafter a new government is expected to be delivered through a political process under which the elders select a new parliament which will then elect a new President. Back

20   QQ 177, 178 Back

21   Puntland is a semi-autonomous region in the north of Somalia

Q 30 Back

22   Council Joint Action 2008/851/CFSP.  Back

23   Council Decision 2009/907/CFSP, Council Decision 2010/766/CFSP, Council Decision 2012/174/CFSP Back

24   Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom Back

25   Q 67 Back

26   Q 110, also Chitiyo QQ 21, 23 Back

27   Q 180 Back

28   Lloyd's Market Association, paragraphs 1 and 2 Back

29   Council of Somali Organisations Back

30   Paragraph 31 of our previous report. Back

31   QQ 117, 91 Back

32   Q 31 Back

33   QQ 110, 111 Back

34   31st Report (2010-12) "European Defence Capabilities: lessons from the past, signposts for the future" (HL Paper 292), paragraph 88 Back

35   The Minister Q 94 Back

36   Paragraphs 28-29 Back

37   Q 115 Back

38   Q 32 Back

39   QQ 3-6 Back

40   Le Mière, paragraph 10 Back

41   Q 31 Back

42   Pickard Q 139 Back

43   QQ 183, 231 Back

44   Council of Somali Organisations Back

45   QQ 20, 27, 28 Back

46   Reindorp Q 85, Chamber of Shipping, paragraph 6, Lloyd's Market Association, paragraph 2 Back

47   Chamber of Shipping, paragraph 3 Back

48   Q 74 Back

49   Chamber of Shipping paragraph 12 Back

50   Q 57 Back

51   QQ 77, 95 Back

52   QQ 77, 98, also Rondos Q 180 Back

53   QQ 27, 155 Back

54   Reindorp QQ 95-97, Rondos Q 180 Back

55   Q 180 Back

56   Q 28 Back

57   Le Mière paragraph 5 Back

58   QQ 95, 203

The extension of the area of operations to include the coastal territory of Somalia has its legal foundation in Article 1(2) of Joint Action 2008/851/CFSP as amended by Decision 2012/174/CFSP. The amending Decision takes account of two UN Security Council Resolutions. In particular, paragraph 6 of UNSCR 1851 of 2008 provides that states and regional organisations (i.e. including the EU) "cooperating in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia" may undertake "all necessary measures that are appropriate in Somalia for the purpose of suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea ..." Paragraph 10 of UNSCR 1846 of 2008 provides for action in the territorial waters of Somalia. Back

59   QQ 157, 158 Back

60   QQ 204, 205 Back

61   Adam Q 1, Back

62   Q 55 Back

63   Council of Somali Organisations Back

64   Paragraphs 47 and 52 of our previous report Back

65   QQ 119, 120 Back

66   Chamber of Shipping paragraph 8 Back

67   QQ 34-36 Back

68   Chamber of Shipping paragraph 7 Back

69   Interim Guidance to UK flagged shipping on the use of armed guards to defend against the threat of piracy in exceptional circumstances: http://www.dft.gov.uk/publications/use-of-armed-guards-to-defend-against-piracy Back

70   Reindorp QQ 102-108, Pickard Q 123, Le Mière paragraph 6 Back

71   Pickard Q 129 Back

72   Q 33 Back

73   Q 32 also Chitiyo Q 33 Back

74   Chamber of Shipping, paragraphs 2, 8-10 Back

75   Chamber of Shipping, paragraph 11 Back

76   Lloyds Market Association paragraphs 4-7 Back

77   QQ 71-72 Back

78   QQ 139, 140 Back

79   Q 183 Back

80   Q 38 Back

81   QQ 8, 10, 12 Back

82   Somaliland, as well as Puntland, is a semi-autonomous area in the north of Somalia. Back

83   Q 39 Back

84   Council of Somali Organisations Back

85   Adam QQ 8-18, also Pickard QQ 142, 146 Back

86   QQ 141, 142  Back

87   QQ 37, 38 Back

88   Q 38 Back

89   QQ 147-149, 153 Back

90   Q 145 Back

91   Pickard QQ 146, 149 Anyimadu Q 44, Chitiyo QQ 44, 45 Back

92   QQ 150-152 Back

93   Q 12 Back

94   Q 38 Back

95   Q 40 Back

96   Council of Somali Organisations Back

97   Q 187 Back

98   Q 121 Back

99   Q 34 Back

100   The international task force announced by the Prime Minister at the London conference on Somalia to look at the issue of ransom payments in piracy cases met for the first time on 30 May in London and examined options for preventing the payment of ransoms. Discussions were informed by an independent analysis of the options prepared by Chatham House and by views presented by representatives from industry and the Somali diaspora. Participants are 14 countries representing a range of Flag States, seafarer nations, countries with large merchant navies and those active in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, including Australia, Denmark, France, Italy, Liberia, Malaysia, Norway, Panama, the Philippines, Spain, Ukraine, the UAE, the USA, and the UK. Source: FCO website Back

101   Le Mière paragraph 9 Back

102   House of Lords European Union Committee, 19th Report (Session 2008-09) Money laundering and the financing of terrorism (HL 132-I), paragraphs 170 to 173, for which report evidence on this point was taken  Back

103   Banks, insurers, lawyers, accountants and many other persons and bodies who handle money on behalf of others are required to report to the authorities any suspicious transactions or activities which might involve funds which are the proceeds of criminal activity. These reports are called Suspicious Activity Reports, or SARs.  Back

104   Adam QQ 1, 2, 8 Back

105   Q 25 Back

106   Q 47 Back

107   QQ 189, 196-200, 212 Back

108   The Minister Q 93 Back

109   Error! Bookmark not defined.  Back

110   Q 170 Back

111   QQ 213-222 Back

112   Q 63 Back

113   Council of Somali Organisations Back

114   Council Decision 2011/483/CFSP Back

115   QQ 52-54 Back

116   Q 164 Back

117   QQ 206-210 Back

118   Council Decision 2012/389/CFSP of 16 July 2012 and Press release 12562/12 of 16 July 2012  Back

119   Q 210 Back

120   Q 172 Back

121   Q 8 Back

122   QQ 161-164 Back

123   Q 176 Back

124   Q 161 Back

125   Q 230 Back

126   QQ 167, 168 Back

127   QQ 226, 229 Back

128   The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa was created in 1996 in Djibouti to supersede the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) which was founded in 1986. It aimed to expand cooperation among its member states-Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Uganda. Eritrea has been suspended. In 2008 IGAD expanded its activities with initiatives to improve the investment, trade and banking environments of its member states. Back

129   Kay Q 175 Back

130   QQ 43, 61, 227 Back

131   Council of Somali Organisations Back

132   Q 43 Back

133   QQ 41-43 Back

134   Q 8 Back

135   QQ 178, 230 Back

136   Q 9 Back

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