Broader U.N. Rules on Pirates Sought

Thursday, December 11, 2008

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 10 -- The Bush administration has introduced a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would allow foreign states to pursue Somalia-based pirates onto Somali shores, marking an escalation in the international effort to crack down on a scourge that has roiled the international shipping trade.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will press for passage of the resolution at a high-level meeting of the 15-nation council on Tuesday. The U.S. initiative follows a series of decisions by the Security Council that provide states with enhanced legal powers to combat piracy and to prosecute pirates in foreign courts.

The resolution authorizes states for a 12-month period to take "all necessary measures ashore in Somalia, including in its airspace, to interdict those who are using Somali territory" to plan or operate a piracy mission. It requires states to obtain approval from Somalia's beleaguered Transitional Federal Government, which lacks the basic capacity to police its own territory.

More than 60 ships have been attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia in the past year, double the number of such incidents in 2007, according to analysts. The United Nations estimates that the pirates have secured up to $40 million in ransom since the beginning of the year. In response, the United States and several other maritime powers have established security patrols in international waters off Somalia.

-- Colum Lynch

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