(fa fede solo il discorso effettivamente pronunciato)
Mr Secretary General,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to be here on this high level segment and I would like to thank the Secretary General, Koji Sekimizu, for organising this meeting particularly useful at this time when there are many different initiatives on piracy mainly regarding technical aspects rather than the political dimension. Certainly, we also need a political exchange of view such as the one in this timely meeting.
Let me also thank the IMO for providing excellent anti-piracy advice to ship crews that helped to reduce the successful rate of attacks in the last year.
The challenge posed by piracy off the coast of Somalia is vast and represents a threat to regional security and the global economy. Maritime piracy is an international crime Italy has been working hard to fight. In response we have supported a multilateral and multi-dimensional approach that focused on security, deterrence, diplomacy and prevention. In this respect, we welcome the successful operation carried out yesterday by EUNAVFOR Operation “Atalanta” to disrupt pirates’ logistical dumps in Somalia, in the framework of the EU’s comprehensive apprach to the problem.
We are better protecting our vessels, and increasing our preparedness for any possible pirate attack. We are building new partnerships around the world to disrupt and defeat piracy. And we have reinforced our diplomatic efforts in order to make clear that countering piracy is of paramount interest and relevance to Italy.
As a general remark, we need to be able to count on a solid base of internationally shared rules, starting with the fundamental and universally recognized principle of freedom of navigation and safe passage through international waters.
Over the last period, we have noticed a new effort in trying to find common rules and procedures, in particular for the use of “privately contracted armed security personnel” (PCASP) and that is appreciable considering the importance to further strengthen cooperation. However, this cooperation should be overall and not just in some specific sectors or topics and we are ready to continue to cooperate hoping that all pending issues will be solved in the same cooperative framework.
Indeed, the battle against piracy can only be effectively fought through cooperation among States, based on international law and “good faith” compliance with it.
Like other countries, Italy not only participates in international maritime patrol missions: it also protects its own merchant ships by providing them with military personnel on board, with the task of warding off attacks by pirates in compliance with specific and accountable rules of engagement and with the IMO Best Management Practices (BMP). In particular, paragraph 8.15 of the BMP4 states that “the provision of Military Vessel Protection Detachments (VPDs) deployed to protect vulnerable shipping is the recommended option when considering armed guards”. These Vessel Protection Detachments are on active duty and they act as agents of the State. As such, they should be clearly recognized as exempt from the jurisdiction of other States. In fact, it is the sending State that should judge whether they violate their assigned duties and, if need be, punish them. This principle should be strongly held and defended everywhere, thus avoiding the risk of dangerous precedents be set, with serious consequences for effectively countering piracy with all available means.
In the long run we cannot keep Seas safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values well represented by a number of rules that form the international customary law. Freedom of navigation and transit within the international waters is granted to all States, and the ships fall exclusively under the jurisdiction of the flag State. This customary law is codified within the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea in 1982 (UNCLOS), of which most of the States are parties. It has been thanks to these rules that freedom; fairness; equality and dignity around the world have been guaranteed. Also the UN Resolution 2020 – recalling the UN Convention on Law of the Sea – meant to underline that there are rules regarding the fight against piracy which directly stem from the codified Law of the Sea.
I am confident that our approach is widely shared within the IMO and its membership, and we look forward to discussing it further.