Seychelles’ counter-piracy efforts hailed in New York


Ambassador Faure (second from right facing camera) at the counter-piracy meeting

The workshop had the topic of ‘Combating Piracy: Experiences in the Gulf of Guinea, Horn of Africa and Southeast Asia’ and was co-hosted by the permanent missions of Benin, Australia and the International Peace Institute (IPI).

Seychelles was represented by the Secretary of State in the President's Office, Ambassador Barry Faure.

Several speakers and delegates referred to Seychelles' efforts in building a robust criminal justice system in fighting piracy at sea, in raising the matter at the highest diplomatic level, and in initiating various regional and international initiatives – the Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecution and Intelligence coordination Centre (RAPPICC) being the most recent development.

The meeting learned that no single country in the world had put most effort in combating piracy than Seychelles.

Following the wave of pirate attacks in the Indian Ocean region in 2009, President James Michel called on all regional partners and countries with interests in the region to come together to fight this scourge through a coordinated approach. 

This call has been heeded by many countries that have enhanced their cooperation with Seychelles, either through existing agreements or through the signature of new Status of Forces Agreements.
More recently, in December 2011, President Michel made an appeal to world leaders to give more attention to the situation in Somalia as a matter of urgency, following the increase in pirate attacks and recruitment of pirates that are ‘better armed, better organised and prepared to resort to more desperate measures’.

The response has been positive and wide-reaching, and as a result has seen a more comprehensive approach to the piracy threat by the world community.

The workshop was one of the rare occasions when the global phenomenon of piracy brought together the three regions most affected by piracy – Southeast Asia, the Horn of Africa, and the Gulf of Guinea.

The event built upon the outcomes of the July 2012 Perth Counter-Piracy Conference hosted by the government of Australia. The delegates included approximately 120 people, including representatives from member states (both military and civilian), non-government organisations and United Nations (UN) secretariat staff.

Newly accredited Seychelles permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Marie-Louise Potter and her deputy, minister counsellor Selby Pillay, also attended as delegates.

The workshop, which was opened by Warren Hoge, IPI's senior advisor for external relations, was co-chaired by Australian permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Gary Quinlan, and Benin's permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Jean-Francis Zinzou.

Apart from Ambassador Faure, the other speakers were Peter Jennings, executive director of Australian Strategic Policy Institute; LTC (Retd) Nicholas Teo, deputy director of the Information Sharing Centre under the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia; MAJGEN (Retd) Charles Okae, director of peacekeeping and regional security of Ecowas; and Alan Cole, counter-piracy programme coordinator in the UN office on drugs and crime.

The workshop considered efforts to combat piracy in each of the three hot spots, looking at national, regional and international approaches, and examined in particular how lessons from one region may be relevant to others.

To name a few highlights of the workshop, Southeast Asia's experience in setting up an information sharing centre was noteworthy and should be emulated as a best practice. The political will of the countries of the gulf of Guinea to use its own limited resources to develop its regional military assets was commended.

The meeting also noted the need for member states of the UN to develop a global strategy against piracy, noting that the African Union summit of 2010 did propose such an initiative.
The organisers and speakers resolved to follow up on the outcomes of the workshop.