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UN Security Council Extends Anti-Piracy Measures Off Somali Coast


The U.N. Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution allowing member states to continue fighting pirates off the coast of Somalia for another year. The resolution also offers support for a European Union anti-piracy mission that launches next week. From United Nations headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

The U.S.-drafted resolution authorized states to continue taking all necessary means to combat piracy - including the use of force.

It also laid a legal foundation for a European Union naval operation, known as Atalanta, which is expected to begin next week. Under the European Union flag, France, Britain, Germany and Greece are sending one warship each, and Spain is contributing airpower. The force will patrol near Somalia's pirate-infested waters and escort ships carrying commercial and humanitarian cargo.

French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert said he considers the resolution a very important step in the fight against piracy.

"Piracy is killing. Every day more than three million Somali people are depending on food aid, on emergency relief - which are coming, 95 percent of them - by the sea. So by adopting resolution 1846, the international community is sending a very strong signal of its determination to deal with piracy," he said.

Council members said they still need to work out a mechanism for prosecuting suspected pirates once they arrest them. U.S. Deputy Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said it is a difficult issue that must be resolved.

"We have noted in our resolution the SUA convention - the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Maritime Security - that we believe allows for prosecuting pirates. It provides the jurisdiction for states party to the convention -there are almost 150 countries now that have signed on - we are urging those who are states parties to use the authorities in that convention to deal with this issue," she said.

Council members stressed that the explosion of piracy off Somalia's coast is a symptom of the political conflict and lawlessness in that country, and that these root causes must be resolved to really stop piracy.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked the council to authorize an international stabilization force for Somalia, which would take over from the small African Union force on the ground, and eventually would be replaced by U.N. peacekeepers once the situation has stabilized.