x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dubai anti-piracy conference to focus on rebuilding Somalia

This year's conference will focus on building the capacities of Somali institutions to develop security and economic growth.

DUBAI // The third annual international counter-piracy conference to take place in the emirate will focus on rebuilding the nation of Somalia, according to the organisers.

Unlike the two previous events, this year's conference will concentrate on building the capacities of Somali institutions to develop security and economic growth, said Dr Theodore Karasik, the director of research at the Institute of Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

"Governments and international organisations will work together to focus on rebuilding institutions and identifying gaps that need to be filled," he said.

"Institutions such as the justice system, security system, maritime security, of course, and others will have to be focused on."

In 2011 and last year, the conference achieved many milestones.

An international consensus was reached on the threat of piracy in 2011 and funding was increased to suppress attacks. Governments also mobilised more naval units to patrol hotspots and a direct link between the increased military presence and a decline in piracy was noted.

According to the Combined Maritime Task Force in the Gulf of Aden, the region has experienced a 75 per cent drop in piracy over the past two years.

A senior officer with the UK's Royal Navy, Commodore Simon Ancona, said: "It is true to say, and it's very good news indeed, that the piracy problem at the moment is nothing like it was two years ago.

"But this is a slow process to bring the sort of security assurances that are required to stop piracy."

According to Dr Karasik, there is consensus among tribal factions and political groups in Somalia that rebuilding the country is a priority.

"The clans that supplied the manpower for piracy are all in consensus that they want to engage in legitimate trade and ways of life," he said.

"The fragmented Somali factions, like Somaliland, Puntland and Jubaland, all share a good ethos to rebuild the region."

At last year's conference, the leaders of these factions met in Dubai and signed the Dubai Declaration, which marked the first engagement between the leaders and paved the way for the first political breakthrough in 20 years.

So far the UAE has dedicated more than Dh220 million to Somalia in humanitarian aid, security assistance and funds, Dr Karasik said.

More than 500 participants, comprising foreign ministers, senior government officials, executives of global maritime sector companies and experts, will attend the conference at Madinat Jumeirah Amphitheatre next week.

 

amustafa@thenational.ae