UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – France and the United States, with the aid of Britain, are drafting a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing countries to fight piracy off Somalia and elsewhere, France’s U.N. envoy said on Tuesday.
A surge in maritime hijackings for ransom in the waters off the coast of lawless Somalia have made it one of the world’s most dangerous shipping zones.
"We French and the Americans, with the support of the British and others, want to have a resolution on piracy," French Ambassador to the United Nations Jean-Maurice Ripert told Reuters.
"We are in the process of agreeing among ourselves the (details) of the resolution, including the scope and the legal aspects," he said.
Somali pirates hijacked a ship en route from Dubai on Monday and Spain said it had sent a naval frigate after the seizure off Somalia of a Spanish tuna fishing boat with 26 people aboard.
The attackers appear undeterred by the arrest by French troops in the desert last week of six Somali pirates who had seized a French luxury yacht and held its crew hostage for a week. They were flown to France for questioning.
A Western diplomat from a Security Council state said the British were preparing a companion resolution that would call for a strengthening of the U.N. presence in Somalia, a nation where many countries remain loathe to send peacekeepers.
Ripert said there were complicated legal issues involved in preparing the piracy resolution, but he said it was possible they might have a draft ready by the end of this week.
"The idea is to give a mandate, to call on states of the U.N. to tackle piracy by organizing patrols, reacting to acts of piracy, to take as many preventative measures as possible," Ripert said.
"We really are keen on not doing anything that could endanger the … law of the sea," he said.
Somalia has been without an effective central government since the 1991 toppling of a military dictator, allowing anarchy and violence to flourish.
Kidnapping and piracy are lucrative businesses and most Somalis treat their captives well in anticipation of a ransom.
Ripert made it clear that the idea is that U.N. member states — not the United Nations itself — would join forces and root out piracy before it happens with stepped-up monitoring and patrols.
"It would not be the U.N. organizing it, but authorizing it, asking for it, giving the mandate to the member states to do that and to do it collectively as much as possible," he said.
Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said, "We think it is a very important issue, we want to move it forward as soon as possible.
"With recent events, it is critical that the Security Council looks at this immediately," he added.