UNITAR New York Office and UN DOALOS launch seminar on the legal framework for the repression of piracy

29 April 2013, New York, USA - UNITAR and the Office of Legal Affair, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS), welcomed over 40 delegates to their one-day seminar exploring the legal framework for the repression of piracy on the oceans and seas. Ms. Yvonne Lodico, Head of the UNITAR New York Office, and Mr. Vladimir Jares, Deputy Director in charge of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, introduced the inaugural seminar by giving the opening remarks. Ms. Lodico expressed the importance of international legal framework for addressing maritime piracy, while Mr. Jares highlighted the importance of international cooperation in suppressing it.

Ms. Alice Hicuburundi, Senior Legal Officer of DOALOS, spoke about new trends in piracy, including the use of automatic and sophisticated weapons and the drop of attacks off the coast of Somalia resulting from increased military and land-based antipiracy operations. Ms. Nicola King, Legal Officer of DOALOS, gave an introduction to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Ms. King emphasized that UNCLOS is an international agreement that defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in an area that constitutes close to 70 percent of the planet. Considering the importance that UNCLOS deserves, Ms. Vita Onwuasoanya, also a Legal Officer of DOALOS, further explored its provisions as they relate to piracy, while also presenting cases of international cooperation in suppressing maritime piracy, particularly focusing on cases off the coast of Somalia. In turn, Mr. Nicholas Sebire, Specialized Officer of INTERPOL, gave a thorough presentation on INTERPOL and its past, present, and future efforts to suppress maritime piracy, which includes the likes of INTERPOL’s Global Maritime Piracy Database and other communication tools. Following Mr. Sebire’s presentation, Mr. Michele Ameri, Legal Officer of DOALOS, delved into the elements of national legislation on piracy under UNCLOS, highlighting the importance of national legislation on piracy, including the definition and enforcement of piracy.

In the afternoon, Mr. Amit Kumar Singhal, Political Affairs Officer of the Department of Political Affairs, Africa Division, walked the audience through different Security Council Resolutions on maritime piracy issues adopted since 2008. Mr. Lucas Bento, Associate of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, then gave a presentation on the role of private law firms in the repression of maritime piracy, while also exploring the dilemma of banning the payment of ransoms to pirates. Visiting from London, Mr. Chris Trelawny, Senior Deputy Director of the Sub-Division for Maritime Security and Facilitation, International Maritime Organization (IMO) discussed IMO’s historical and on-going role in maritime safety and shared the different regional and collaborative efforts underway to suppress maritime piracy.  Francesco Pisano, Director of Research at UNITAR, closed the presentations by giving an overview of UNITAR’s Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT). Mr. Pisano showed how UNOSOAT helps to identify the patterns of pirate activity, which is helpful to enhance the prevention of pirate attacks.  The participants overwhelmingly demonstrated their keen interest for follow up seminars on maritime piracy.