International Maritime Organization secretary-general Koji Sekimizu has called on heads of state to engage with the global fight against piracy, saying that ministerial discussions have failed to deliver the political will needed to tackle the problem effectively.
Addressing a shipping industry event at which participants voiced frustration about soaring levels of piracy since 2008, Mr Sekimizu said that the way forward for the UN body was to debate the issue at national government level.
“I can share the frustrations,” Mr Sekimizu said. “The IMO is talking to as many governments as possible at as high levels as possible.
“If we raise the issue to the top of the government, instead of the ministerial level, that may generate political will to solve the problems.”
Most national governments have restricted discussion of their counter-piracy measures to ministerial level, leading many within the shipping industry to criticise the European Union, the UN and the US for lacking political will to fight pirates, especially in Somalia.
Governments should put in more effort to solve piracy issues, as shipping is critical to the global economy, said Mr Sekimizu, as he urged governments to consider the safety of “over 1.5m seafarers, working day in and day out”.
Next month, the IMO will hold a conference to discuss measures to counter piracy off Somalia.
Talking points will include use of armed guards, information sharing, law-enforcement training and national legislation to combat piracy.
In particular, the IMO hopes to develop guidance for deployment of private maritime security firms as many countries are seeking to regulate use of armed guards.
Mr Sekimizu, who assumed his post in January, said he hoped member states and the European Union would attract high-level participation to move things forward.
“I hope those conferences will end in good results,” he said.