Source: The Department of Defence and Military Veterans
Title: SA: Makwetla: Address by the Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, at the anti-piracy conference
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the government of the United Arab Emirates,
His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Nahyan,
Chairman of the DP World, His Excellency Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem,
Ladies and gentlemen
Allow me first to convey our appreciation for the warmth and remarkable skills with which the organisers of this pertinent dialogue prepared for this convocation; and to the government of the United Arab Emirates and the DP World for convening and sponsoring this crucial conference on “Forging a Common Approach to Maritime Piracy” through, among others, support for regional responses.
Excellencies, there can be no denying the fact that the urgency of the business of this conference is underpinned by the intractable crisis in the Horn of Africa region.
South Africa concurs with the Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon, when he says a sustainable solution to maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia will only come when Somalia is stabilised. There is indeed an urgent need to combine the vital sea-based anti piracy strategies and efforts to find a permanent political settlement of the Somali conflict. Somalia urgently needs its tragic situation to be addressed in a comprehensive and holistic manner. This means the need, at the same time, to address the root causes of piracy and taking decisive action against piracy and impunity on the part of the Somali pirates. The holistic approach must have both the short and long term objectives for Somalia.
African Union (AU)
Furthermore, importantly, in its communiqué of 15 October 2010 the African Union Peace and Security Commission (AU-PSC) emphasised that a holistic approach to the piracy challenge must also address the dumping of toxic waste and illegal fishing which affects the livelihood of ordinary Somalis. The AU-PSC also requested that the mobilisation of resources by the international community in the fight against piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, be utilised also in support of other relevant initiatives by the AU on mainland. It is in this context that I would like to support the sentiment expressed yesterday by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Mr Bernard Membe, regarding the indictment on all of us for the unconvincing performance over two decades during which Somali has progressively regressed into a failed state.
Southern African Development Community (SADC)
South Africa, as a significant maritime nation, recognises that piracy activities on the global scale may threaten to distort world trade as higher premiums for shipping make trade more expensive. The South African Government together with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries has noted with great concern the growing levels of piracy activities in and around the Gulf of Eden and the off coast of Somali; particularly the southward spread of these activities to the Mozambican Channel. South Africa’s main priority is to ensure smooth trade and safe movements of cargo within the SADC Maritime Zone and the continent at large. In response to the southward spread and threat of piracy in the region, preparatory work and the process of responding to piracy is underway. We are in the process of revising our defence priorities to cater adequately for this growing menace, in the context of the SADC Maritime Security plan. As the continent and East African coastal countries confront the resource challenge placed on us by the scourge of piracy, it is our considered view that close collaboration is needed to optimise our efforts. This includes procuring the wherewithal for the job. In addition to these measures, the South African Government is committed through the African Union to contribute to the speedy resolution of the Somali problem and the eradication of the scourge of piracy.
We therefore welcome the call for the mobilisation of resources with a view to providing support to Somalia in its effort to maintain law and order, strengthening its coastguard capacity, in particular by supporting the development of land based coastal monitoring, and to increase their cooperation with the Somali regional authorities.
International law, as reflected in the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Law of the Sea, sets out the legal framework applicable to combating piracy, armed robbery and other crimes at high seas , and we are signatories to this UN Convention and therefore already tailored to cope with this challenge.
South Africa supports the ongoing efforts by regional States in the development of anti-piracy courts or chambers in their regions. We welcome support by governments and international organisations, together with the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) for these initiatives.
South Africa is keen to see a breakthrough in the investigation and prosecution of those who illicitly finance, plan, organise and profit from pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia becausethose who conceive and masterminds piracy are themselves guilty of the crime of piracy, as defined under international law.
South Africa urges all organisations of goodwill, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime included, to ratchet up international assistance to increase prison capacity in Somalia, including Puntland and Somaliland. Needless to say, we must appeal for all necessary technical and financial support for the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct, the Regional Plan of Action for Maritime Security in Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean agreed by Ministers in Mauritius in October 2010.
As I conclude, your Excellencies we wish to remind all of us that an effective and sustainable solution lies in collaboration between governments, regions, multilateral fora, and the private sector in a disciplined, consistent and resolute effort to make the world a safe and better place for all nations to prosper and flourish.
Once again we wish to congratulate the convenors of this forum, the government of the United Arab Emirates for this noble idea.
I thank you for listening.