Ukraine today called for the creation of a United Nations office in Africa to spearhead global efforts against maritime piracy, saying existing international measures to combat the problem are insufficient to deal with the scale of the problem.
President Viktor Yushchenko told the General Assembly’s annual General Debate that “uniform and clear rules” are needed to both fight pirates and to protect sailors from attacks.
“It is not a local problem any more. It has become very dangerous and threatening all of us,” Mr. Yushchenko said, citing statistics which show that in the past nine months alone, some 35 Ukrainian sailors have been taken hostage by pirates.
The scourge of piracy has become better known over the last year following a series of high-profile attacks, especially in the waters off the coast of Somalia.
The proposed anti-piracy office in Africa would be “a regional centre under the UN aegis which would bring under its umbrella specialized agencies, programmes and funds, as well as political offices to counter piracy,” the President said.
Ukraine – which has an estimated 70,000 citizens employed on ships under foreign flags – co-sponsored a resolution at the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) against piracy, but Mr. Yushchenko emphasized that “the measures so far [taken by the international community] have not been sufficient.”
He said Ukraine believes the 192-member General Assembly “has to become a coordinating body for the efforts of all specialized institutions in this field.
“We call for more active stance of those UN members which are main countries of origin of employed marine workers and of those States and organizations capable of making an impact on the safety of international maritime navigation.”
In addition, Mr. Yushchenko said the General Assembly should hold a separate meeting to debate issues concerning piracy.