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Number of Pirate Attacks Drops Rapidly

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With sustained efforts by the international community to combat piracy, the number of pirate attacks is dropping rapidly, and pirates are holding fewer hostages as reported today by the United States of America.

In her remarks at a Security Council Debate on the Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Piracy, Ambassador Susan Rice says with the integrated, multi-dimensional approach by the US and the international community, combating piracy has borne fruit.

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement and the visit, board, search, and seizure team embarked aboard USS Princeton (CG-59) engage in a mock assault operation in the Red Sea. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

"The United Nations and the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia deserve special thanks for building bridges among the key actors to facilitate this progress." -Ms. Rice

She cites that while the situation has improved dramatically, even one hostage is indeed too many.

Effectively countering piracy requires action on multiple fronts, she added.

Ms. Rice stresses that identifying and apprehending the criminal conspirators who lead, manage, and finance the pirate enterprise are central to our efforts.

She notes that these individuals are ultimately responsible for hostage-taking and other piracy-related threats to seafarers.

"We are working in close coordination with our international partners to connect and promote information sharing among law enforcement communities, intelligence agencies, and financial experts to prosecute pirate conspirators and disrupt their operations."-Ms. Rice

The US continues to support the work of the UN-managed Trust Fund to Support the Initiatives of States to Counter Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, which has funded among other projects such as the construction of prisons, the training of judicial officials, and the purchase of equipment for law enforcement in Somalia.

Somalia must do its part as well, she noted.

Having completed its transition, adopted a new provisional constitution, and elected a new parliament and president, Somalia is poised to take greater action to counter piracy, Ms. Rice stressed.

According to Ms. Rice, Further, to date, not a single ship employing privately contracted armed security personnel has been successfully pirated.

Ms. Rice emphasizes that the international community, in partnership with the private sector, has made impressive strides towards reducing the scourge of piracy.

"But our gains are not irreversible, and we cannot let up." -Ms. Rice

Ms. Rice states that the US looks forward to continued cooperation with and support from our international partners, action by private industry, and a sustained commitment by this Council to ensure that seafarers are protected, that international commerce is no longer threatened, and that the guilty are brought to justice.

Earlier this month, at an event celebrating Combating Piracy Week, the United States of America has reported the world has made remarkable progress in curbing incidents of piracy attack off the coast of Somalia.

In 2007 and 2008, pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia began to escalate dramatically.

Piracy, as a result, went from a fairly "ad hoc", disorganized endeavor to a highly developed transnational criminal enterprise.

Flush with money, pirates were able to improve their capabilities and expand their operations further and further away from shore.

Somali pirates have hijacked more than 175 vessels and attacked more than 400 vessels that we know of, likely many others.

By preying on commercial ships in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, pirates off the Horn of Africa threaten more than just individual ships.

According to figures from the U.S. Navy, they are on track to experience a 75 percent decline in pirate attacks this year compared with 2011.

The world is seeing fewer attempted attacks in no small measure because pirates were less successful at hijacking ships.

In 2011, the number of successful pirate attacks fell by half. This year, in 2012, the number of successful attacks has continued to decline, Mr. Thomas cited.

To date, pirates have captured ten vessels this year, compared to 34 in 2011 and 68 in 2010.

The last successful Somali pirate attack on a major commercial vessel was more than five months ago on May 10, 2012.

In January 2011, pirates held 31 ships and 710 hostages, Mr. Thomas reported.

In combating piracy, the United States has pursued an integrated multi-dimensional approach that is rooted in what Secretary Clinton described as "smart power."

While the problem of piracy of the Horn of Africa was a problem that affected the United States, piracy affects the whole international community.

The United States has helped lead the international response and galvanize international action.

In January 2009, the United States helped establish the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to both prompt action and coordinate the efforts to suppress Somali piracy.

The Contact Group is based on voluntary membership and was established concurrent with the UN Security Council's passage of Resolution 1851 in 2008.

The Group now includes over 70 nations as well as international and maritime industry organizations, to help coordinate national and international counter-piracy policies and actions.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain english. Read more stories by Mina Fabulous. Contact Mina through NewsBlaze.

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