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U.S. To Head Counter-Piracy Group

Masked Somali pirate Abdi Ali stands near a Taiwanese fishing vessel.

The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia — has chosen the United States as its chair for 2013.

The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia — has chosen the United States as its chair for 2013. The group is a partnership of nearly 80 countries and international organizations working to prevent piracy off the Somali coast. According to the United States Navy, pirate attacks declined 75 percent in 2012, compared with 2011.

U.S. To Head Counter-Piracy Group
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Since its initial meeting in January 2009, the Contact Group has nearly tripled in size, a testament to the global consensus that piracy poses a shared security challenge to maritime safety and to the need for further coordinated international action.

The Contact Group is credited with coordinating an unprecedented international naval effort from more than 30 countries working together to protect transiting vessels, and partnering with the shipping industry to improve steps merchant ships and crews can take to avoid, deter, and delay pirate attacks

The Contact Group has also strengthened the capacity of Somalia and other countries in the region to prosecute and imprison convicted pirates; and advanced a new initiative aimed at disrupting the pirates’ financial and logistical networks ashore through approaches similar to those used to target other types of organized transnational criminal networks.

"Our multifaceted response is having a positive impact."
Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas Kelly

At the Contact Group plenary session in December, the group called for greater cooperation between all stakeholders, including states, relevant organizations, and the private sector for the prosecution of pirates as well as for the liberation of seafarers from pirate captivity.

The Contact Group called on Somali authorities to cooperate better with the international community to disrupt pirate activity. The Group also agreed that present levels of operational activity must be maintained.

The Contact Group recognized the continuing need to ensure the effective prosecution of suspected pirates apprehended off the coast of Somalia and the urgent need to investigate and prosecute anyone who incites or facilitates piracy operations.

"Reducing and mitigating the threat posed by piracy," said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Thomas Kelly, "will require long, hard work. But clearly, our multifaceted response is having a positive impact. As pirates continue to adapt and evolve, we need to stay vigilant and continue our efforts. The security of the region and the global economy depend on it."