If the international community is to come together to address this issue, it must be done in coordination with the people of Somalia whose waters are currently being entered illegally on a regular basis. Furthermore, the focus of regulation should be equally as strong on the international vessels that are entering the waters illegally as it is on the pirates.
Washington, DC. (Vocus) April 10, 2009
The U.S. African Chamber of Commerce (USACC) is appealing to United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to address international maritime law violations off of the Somali coast. These violations include piracy, illegal dumping of chemical toxic waste, illegal fishing, illegal trafficking, travel by unregistered vessels, unauthorized militarization and command centers, and the development of risk management and business for nuclear waste.
The explosion of piracy and illegal activity off of the coast of Somalia in recent years began with the U.S. supported overthrow of the Somali government by Ethiopia. The previous government provided Somalia with rule of law and a functional society. Since it was overthrown, Somalia's new central government has struggled to maintain the rule of law and the economic infrastructure has severely broken down, leaving the people of Somalia in dire conditions. It has also left the Somali coast unprotected. As a result, international vessels have taken advantage of the lack of enforcement and have engaged in the dumping of chemical waste, and the numerous other activities described above. Without employment options, some local people have engaged in piracy both as a means of income and to protect the coast. Operating from remote fishing communities in northeastern and central Somalia, pirates have earned tens, perhaps even hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom. The lucrative nature of piracy has also attracted war lords and other undesirables to the area. Somali and other pirates operating off the Somali coast have grown sophisticated in their operation, with international networks that monitor and communicate maritime activity leaving for Somali waters from Abu Dhabi, Kenya, and other ports.
The piracy and illegal activity off the coast of Somalia has exposed a weakness in the United Nations maritime law that makes high seas piracy illegal throughout the world. Warships from more than a dozen countries have formed what U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently described as ''one of the largest anti-piracy flotillas in modern history'' to monitor Somalia's 4,000 kilometer-long coast. This unauthorized military build-up in Somali waters concerns the U.S. African Chamber of Commerce, and many others. USACC President, Martin Mohammed, said "If the international community is to come together to address this issue, it must be done in coordination with the people of Somalia whose waters are currently being entered illegally on a regular basis. Furthermore, the focus of regulation should be equally as strong on the international vessels that are entering the waters illegally as it is on the pirates."
U.S. African Chamber of Commerce requests that Secretary Clinton immediately push for action within NATO, the European Union and the IGAD-AU and the immediate investigation and the enforcement of commerce regulations that respect the sovereign nations of East Africa. All tankers entering Somalia and East African waters must be held accountable for truthful registration, declaration of exports, and payment of applicable taxes. Illegal entrance and activities must be curtailed and perpetrators assessed heavy fines. The excuse that Somalia does not have a central government and is therefore not protected by international rules threatens trade and causes significant geo-political concerns.
The USACC is the Leading Advocacy Organization for U.S. African Relations and promotes Emerging Markets. The USACC is the umbrella organization for African Chambers of Commerce and Professional Trade and Business Associations throughout the United States and abroad.