/ 2 June 2008

UN breaks deadlock on Somalia piracy

Members of the United Nations Security Council have agreed on the final text of a long-delayed resolution that gives countries the right to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, council diplomats said on Monday.

The resolution could be formally adopted by the Security Council as early as Monday, diplomats from five of the 15 member states told reporters on a flight from Nairobi to Djibouti, where the council was meeting members of Somalia’s transitional government and opposition.

A deal on the resolution was struck on Friday, the diplomats said, after France agreed to accept Indonesia’s demands that anti-piracy actions undertaken off the coast of Somalia would not set a precedent for any other country.

”Our concerns have been taken on board,” Indonesia ambassador to the United Nations Marty Natalegawa told reporters.

The resolution, the first draft of which was circulated in April, is aimed at combating a surge in ship hijackings for ransom in the waters off the coast of Somalia that have made them one of the world’s most dangerous shipping zones.

United States envoy Alejandro Wolff said members hoped the resolution would be adopted unanimously later on Monday at UN headquarters in New York. He added that the French had ”wanted to highlight the scourge of piracy as a global problem”.

Council diplomats said the French backed down after facing resistance from the Indonesians, who refused to allow the possibility that anti-piracy actions by foreign marine or security forces could take place in their coastal waters.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since the 1991 toppling of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Kidnapping and piracy are lucrative businesses and most Somalis treat their captives well in anticipation of a ransom. — Reuters