Four international shipping associations, representing most of the world's maritime industry, called for the creation of a United Nation armed force to tackle the worsening piracy crisis in the Indian Ocean.
The Indian Ocean resembles "the Wild West,” stated a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon from the International Chamber of Shipping, the Baltic and International Maritime Council, INTERTANKO and INTERCARGO.
“It has become abundantly clear to shipping companies that the current situation, whereby control of the Indian Ocean has been ceded to pirates, requires a bold new strategy. To be candid, the current approach is not working,” the letter stated.
There were 36 percent more international pirate attacks in the first half of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010, but Somali pirates’ hijacking success has fallen, according to the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre. Somali pirates currently hold 16 vessels and 301 hostages.
The four shipping industry organizations, which together represent more than 90 percent of the world merchant fleet, say they support the UN's long-term measures on shore aimed at helping the Somali people but are concerned that these "may take years, if not decades, to have a meaningful impact on piracy."
While they expressed regret about the need to post armed guards aboard ships, the four organizations asked the UN to bring the concept of a UN force of armed military guards to the attention of its Security Council.
“We believe that an important element in this approach would be the establishment of a UN force of armed military guards that can be deployed in small numbers onboard merchant ships,” the letter said.
The associations said such a UN force would help stabilize the situation and restrict the growth of unregulated, privately contracted armed security personnel. The force would also allow those UN member states lacking maritime forces, including those in the region most immediately affected, to make a meaningful contribution in the area of counter-piracy.