NATO extends counter-piracy mission
On Friday 24 April, NATO decided to continue the counter piracy activities of Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) in the Gulf of Aden and in waters off the Horn of Africa after a short port visit to Karachi (Pakistan) from 26 to 27 April.
With the great increase in pirate attacks, and the ensuing international concern, NATO's recent contribution to the international counter piracy effort has been significant. Consequently, the NATO nations decided to cancel the previously planned port visits to Singapore and Australia. Instead, the SNMG1 vessels will return back to the area of operations and stay there until 28 June.
The NATO vessels will, through their active presence, enhance the safety of commercial maritime routes and international navigation off the Horn of Africa. They will assume a high visible profile, conducting surveillance tasks and providing protection to deter and suppress piracy and armed robbery. The utility and flexibility of NATO forces is clearly demonstrated by this sudden retasking to the pre-planned deployment of SNMG1.
On the political level, the NATO nations will discuss in the next few days and weeks NATO's possible long term role in Counter-piracy* as well as efforts to come up with a more common approach regarding the detention of pirates.
The NATO Heads of State and Government have stated in the Strasbourg/Kehl Summit Communiqué of 4 April 2009 that “We are considering options for a possible long-term NATO role to combat piracy, including by taking into account, as appropriate, regional requests for maritime capacity-building”. The Summit Communiqué also acknowledges that the piracy problem requires more than just a maritime response: “Addressing the root causes of piracy requires a comprehensive approach by the international community”. The Communiqué also refers to the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia – of which NATO is a member - which plays an important role in order to facilitate coordination among all actors involved, and where the various aspects of the piracy problem are being discussed.