The event is designed to demonstrate the UAE’s support for public and private sector co-ordination in the fight against maritime piracy, both on and off shore.
This year’s conference has been titled ‘Countering Maritime Piracy: Continued Efforts for Regional Capacity Building’ and is being fronted by a partnership between the UAE Ministry for Foreign Affairs, DP World and Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC).
Building capacity in the region includes countering piracy in the short term through effective security initiatives, including co-ordination between international navies and merchant vessels, and longer-term initiatives that support the development of local communities.
The UAE’s position as a global hub for trade and commerce, together with its significant regional and international partnerships, are expected to make the event a key platform for the co-ordination of the international response to end the scourge of piracy in the long term.
The Gulf saw a spate of hijackings off the coast of Oman in recent years. The latest available figures have spurred estimations that Somalian parents netted $80 million to $90 million from ransom money in 2011. Piracy costs the global shipping industry approximately $18 billion a year, according to the World Bank.
The UAE armed forces and anti-terrorism unit, supported by the US Fifth Fleet, rescued a hijacked 37,000-tonne bulk carrier MV Arrilah in the Persian Gulf in the same year – the crew was freed and the pirates were detained.
According to the UK Maritime and Trade Office in Dubai, six vessels are still in pirates’ hands, including dhows, fishing and merchant vessels. NATO and EU Navfor figures state 43 hostages are being held.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) indicates 68 hostages and four vessels are currently under pirate control. Approximately 500 participants comprising foreign ministers, senior government officials, military officers, executives of global maritime-sector companies, and leading experts have already registered for the two-day invitation-only event.
More than 20 briefing papers are already available from the official conference website, counterpiracy.ae. The documents are grouped under four key areas: ‘The Maritime Security Dimension and Capacity Building’, ‘Private Sector Contribution to Counter-Piracy Efforts (Ports & Industry)’, ‘A Different Dimension to Countering Piracy: Humanitarian Efforts for Alternative Livelihoods’, and ‘Attributing Success Factors for Counter-Piracy in a Complex Environment’.
The papers reflect diverse viewpoints on topics ranging from developing a sustainable maritime strategy for Somalia and engaging West African leaders to unite against piracy in their region, to private sector contributions, and the use of a model to develop counter-piracy capabilities advocated by the UAE to close specific capability gaps and target assistance where it can have the greatest impact.
In keeping with the conference’s theme of capacity building, a DP World paper calls on the private sector to identify mechanisms to further create an environment for sustainable development of Somalia’s emerging economy and address the root causes of maritime piracy.
During the conference, a plenary session will examine how to measure success in countering piracy off the coast of Somalia, while breakout working sessions will review maritime security and capacity building, humanitarian aid programmes in Somalia and the response to the issue of piracy by the maritime industry
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