5 Feb 2019 - International maritime crime is becoming “increasingly sophisticated” as criminal groups exploit jurisdiction and enforcement challenges on the high seas and pose “immediate danger to people’s lives and safety”, the UN anti-drugs and crime chief warned the Security Council on Tuesday.
“Two-thirds of the world’s surface is ocean. Nearly all of that is beyond any State’s territorial waters and largely not subject to a single state criminal jurisdiction,” Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said as he briefed the Council’s first-ever debate targeting the global challenge of transnational maritime crime.
Speaking via video conference from UNODC headquarters in Vienna, he spotlighted the root causes of transnational organized crime at sea and the linkages between terrorism, piracy and illegal trafficking.
“The high seas are open for vessels of all countries, both coastal and landlocked, to support international trade and economic cooperation, contact among peoples and the responsible use of natural resources” he maintained. “However, in recent years the freedom of navigation is being exploited by criminal groups.”
“Maritime crime by its nature involves vessels, cargoes, crews, victims and illicit money flows from many regions”, he explained, adding that UNODC’s counter-piracy programme grew from its success off the coast of Somalia, which has been plagued by high-seas crimes such as piracy, robbery and smuggling.
UNODC continues to support trials in Kenya and Seychelles, as well as the humane and secure imprisonment of convicted pirates and has completed the first phase of the Mogadishu Prison and Court Complex, which will be handed over to the Somali Government shortly.
He said that through public/private cooperation, UNODC has made advancements through the Indian Ocean Forum on Maritime Crime, which coordinates the response to heroin and charcoal smuggling that is funding terrorist groups and the Contact Group on Maritime Crime in the Sulu and Celebes Sea.
The agency also supports inter-regional cooperation against criminal activities at sea; is working to secure the container trade supply chain; and is combatting terrorism, human trafficking and migrant smuggling, wildlife and fisheries crime, firearms trafficking and emerging crimes.
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