Report of the Secretary-General on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia (S/2020/1072)

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I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 29 of Security Council resolution 2500 (2019), in which the Council requested me to report within 11 months on the implementation of the resolution and on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia.

2. The report covers the period from 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2020 and highlights major developments since my previous report (S/2019/867). It is based on information provided by the United Nations system, including the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), as well as Member States and regional organizations, including the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the European Union Capacity-Building Mission in Somalia, the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR), the Indian Ocean Commission and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

II. Main developments, trends and considerations regarding piracy off the coast of Somalia

3. Efforts of the international community to combat piracy were impacted by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. International coordination meetings, such as the annual plenary session of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, were postponed. The global demand for goods significantly decreased, which further reduced the volumes of cargoes shipped across the western Indian Ocean. As supply chains were interrupted, tanker traffic increased owing to increased demand for storage capacity.

4. Nevertheless, concerted efforts to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia continued, thanks to the Federal Government of Somalia and the international community, including the Contact Group; individual Member States (see annex I); and international naval forces, such as EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta and the Combined Maritime Forces.

5. For the first time, there were no incidents of piracy off the coast of Somalia during the reporting period (see annex II). However, suspicious approaches towards merchant vessels in the region were observed by some partners, indicating that the progress made on combating piracy off the coast of Somalia remains fragile and reversible.

6. In their industry releasable threat assessment of 1 September 2020, the Combined Maritime Forces and EU NAVFOR Somalia concluded that piracy off the coast of Somalia continues to be largely suppressed owing to the combined efforts of naval forces and the continued implementation of Best Management Practices. They also indicated that there is a low risk of piracy attacks as pirate action groups have diversified their activities, although they retain the capability to launch attacks.