April 15, 2008
IMO's Mitropoulos endorses French antipiracy proposals
IMO Secretary-General, Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, has commended the recent intervention of French naval forces which succeeded in releasing all the crew of the French yacht, Le Ponant. He also praised the co-operation between the authorities of France and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia in resolving the incident without conflict, injury or loss of life, and in apprehending the suspected pirates.
During a meeting today with Mr. Jacques Audibert, French Chargé d'Affaires in London, and Captain Jean Nicolas Gauthier, Naval Attaché, Mr. Mitropoulos also expressed satisfaction with the intent of the French Government to seek agreement within the United Nations Security Council on measures that would protect shipping off the coasts of countries susceptible to piracy attacks.
Among other possible action, says IMO, countries would be requested to consent to foreign naval forces entering their territorial sea when engaging in operations against pirates and armed robbers endangering the safety of life at sea.
Such an initiative will be supplementary to the efforts, initiated by France and subsequently also undertaken by Denmark and the Netherlands, to protect vessels carrying humanitarian aid delivered by the World Food Program to Somalia.
"This is fully in line with the similar request made by the Organization to the UN Security Council in July 2007, at the request of the IMO Council and through the UN Secretary-General, a request that was reiterated by the IMO Assembly in November 2007," Mr. Mitropoulos said. "I warmly welcome the initiatives being pursued by the Government of France, which are so closely aligned with IMO's own initiatives and objectives and I look forward to continued co-operation with the Government of France, and all other interested nations, so that appropriate solutions may be found and implemented speedily, to the benefit of the Government and people of Somalia; of the seafarers, who may be the innocent, and so often overlooked, victims of acts of piracy and armed robbery; and of shipping in general", he added.
One French proposal not specifically referenced by Mr.Mitropoulos would be an automatic right of pursuit for naval forces acting against piracy with the endorsement of the U.N. Security Council.
Meantime, six men arrested by French special forces following the Ponant incident are expected to arrive in Paris aboard a military aircraft tomorrow.