An international agreement that has been instrumental in repressing piracy and armed robbery against ships in the western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden has seen its scope significantly broadened to cover other illicit maritime activities, including human trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
A high-level meeting of signatories to the Djibouti Code of Conduct, held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia last week has adopted a revised Code of Conduct, which will be known as the “Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017”.
The participatory States agreed to work together, with support from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and other stakeholders, to build national and regional capacity to address wider maritime security issues, as a basis for sustainable development of the maritime sector.
The Jeddah Amendment recognises the important role of the “blue economy” including shipping, seafaring, fisheries and tourism in supporting sustainable economic growth, food security, employment, prosperity and stability. But it expresses deep concern about crimes of piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activity, including fisheries crime, in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. Such acts present grave dangers to the safety and security of persons and ships at sea and to the protection of the marine environment.
The revised code of conduct builds on the earlier Code, which was adopted under the auspices of IMO in 2009. The Jeddah Amendment calls on the signatory States to cooperate to the fullest possible extent to repress transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and other illegal activities at sea.
This will include information sharing; interdicting ships and/or aircraft suspected of engaging in such crimes; ensuring that any persons committing or intending to commit such illicit activity are apprehended and prosecuted; and facilitating proper care, treatment, and repatriation for seafarers, fishermen, other shipboard personnel and passengers involved as victims.
The transnational organised crime referred to in the Code includes arms trafficking; trafficking in narcotics and psychotropic substances; illegal trade in wildlife; crude oil theft; human trafficking and smuggling; and illegal dumping of toxic waste.
A key article of the Code includes the intention of participants to develop and implement, as necessary, a national strategy for the development of the maritime sector and a sustainable “blue economy” that generates revenue, employment and stability. They also pledge to develop national maritime security policies; and national legislation to ensure safe and secure operation of port facilities as well as effective protection of the marine environment and sustainable management of marine living resources.
Under new measures relating to the national organization of maritime security, participants committed to establishing multi-agency, multidisciplinary national maritime security and facilitation committees, with similar arrangements at port level, to develop action plans and to implement effective security procedures.
A further pledge covers the intention of participants to liaise and cooperate with States (which could include the flag State, State of suspected origin of the perpetrators, the State of nationality of persons on board the ship, and the State of ownership of cargo and other stakeholders) and to coordinate activities with each other to facilitate rescue, interdiction, investigation, and prosecution.
The Jeddah Meeting was attended by high-level representatives from 17 Djibouti code of Conduct signatory States, France (Reunion) and four observer States, as well as observers from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); the European Union; the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and the East African Standby Force.
The Djibouti Code of Conduct was adopted under IMO auspices in 2009.
Training and other capacity-building activities implemented under the auspices of the Djibouti Code of Conduct have been credited with contributing to the reduction of piracy in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, alongside the efforts of merchant ships to implement IMO guidance and best management practices, naval forces continuing to deter and disrupt pirate activities and States continuing to prosecute suspected pirates and increasing their maritime law-enforcement capabilities.
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