IMO, shipping industry players urge UN to address piracy crisis

August 2, 2010 11:43 am 

By Priam F. Nepomuceno

MANILA, Aug. 2 — The International Maritime Organization (IMO) together with major players in the global shipping and crewing industry on Monday sent a letter to United Nations (UN) secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon, asking the world body to embark on measures that will address piracy in high seas and expedite the release of seafarers being held captive by Somali sea brigands.

IMO secretary-general Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said their letter dramatizes the unacceptable plight of the 395 hostages currently being held by pirates in Somalia and seek to develop a dynamic approach to secure their release.

"In this, the Year of the Seafarer, your early positive response to our request will be greatly appreciated by the world's seafarers and the international maritime community," the letter added.

The letter was drafted following the July 14 meeting of shipping industry organizations and representatives of seafarer organizations held at IMO headquarters in London and was signed by Mitropoulos, International Chamber of Shipping chair and Internal Shipping Federation president Spyros Polemis, BIMCO president Robert Lorenz-Meyer, International Association of Independent Tanker Owners Graham Westgarth, International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners Nicos A Pappadakis, and representatives of the International Transport Federation.

The said meeting was also attended by former Philippines' Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito Roque who asserts that RP supplies approximately 25 percent of the world's seafarers and whose nationals have been the principal victims of acts of piracy and consequent hostage-taking, particularly in waters off the coast of Somalia.

The letter recognizes that the root causes of piracy in Somalia are to be found on land and that increased activity at the political level (foremost through the Security Council) is fundamental to enable the country to reach a land-based, political solution that will have a beneficial impact on crimes committed at sea, and facilitate and expedite the release of hostages.

"Any action you may decide to take in the context of this joint appeal will certainly contribute towards bringing the 2011 World Maritime Day theme of "Piracy: Orchestrating the Response" to the attention of other relevant entities of the UN System – in particular, those that may be in a position to contribute to the aforementioned goals and the related activities we will be undertaking throughout next year," it further stated.

"We are convinced that the authority of your Office and your personal support for the action outlined above will add considerable gravity and impetus to our efforts to eradicate piracy and armed robbery against ships," the letter concluded. (PNA)



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