Report of the Secretary-General on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia (S/2021/920) [EN/AR/RU/ZH]


I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 29 of Security Council resolution 2554 (2020), in which the Council requested the Secretary-General to report within 11 months on the implementation of the resolution and the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, including an assessment of national coast guard capabilities.

2. The report covers the period 1 November 2020 to 31 October 2021 and highlights major developments since the Secretary-General’s previous such report (S/2020/1072). The report 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 Indian Ocean Commission, the European Union Capacity-Building Mission in Somalia, the European Union Naval Force Operation Atalanta and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

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

3. Efforts to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia continued throughout the reporting period, thanks to the concerted engagement of the Federal Government of Somalia and the international community, including the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, individual Member States (see annex I) and international naval forces, such as the European Union Naval Force Operation Atalanta and the Combined Maritime Forces. The efforts of the international community to combat piracy continued to be affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Nevertheless, shipping traffic levels returned to pre-pandemic activity, as did ship protection measures.

4. During the reporting period, once again, no incidents of piracy were reported in the regional waters around the Somali coastline (see annex II). However, an armed attack against a vessel occurred approximately three nautical miles off the coast of Middle Shabelle on 13 August 2021. Suspicious approaches towards merchant vessels in the region were observed by some Member States, indicating that progress achieved in combating piracy could be reversed if not consolidated.

5. In their industry releasable threat assessment of 1 September 2021, the European Union Naval Force Somalia and the Combined Maritime Forces concluded that piracy off the coast of Somalia continued to be largely suppressed owing to the combined efforts of naval forces and the shipping industries’ continued implementation of Best Management Practices. They further indicated that there was a low risk of piracy attacks as Somali pirate action groups had diversified their activities and refocused their efforts on less risky enterprises. Nonetheless, they retained the capability to seize opportunities and launch attacks with little to no notice.

6. The reduction of the high-risk area on 1 September 2021 further demonstrated the effectiveness of regional naval escorts and counter-piracy measures.

7. The incident on 23 March 2021 involving the ship Ever Given served as a reminder to Member States and the shipping industry of the extent to which trade and supplies depend on open sea lanes. The European Union Naval Force Somalia conducted a full risk assessment of the potential impacts in the Western Indian Ocean in line with recommendations issued by the shipping industry.