Stevenson Part of Ukraine-Led Consultations

Dec 3, 2009

On December 1, Ukraine organized a high-level consultation at the United Nations on piracy and armed robbery against ships entitled: “Strengthening Contribution of the United Nations in Countering Maritime Piracy.” Asked to be a part of the brainstorming session, Douglas B. Stevenson, Director of the Seamen’s Church Institute’s (SCI) Center for Seafarers’ Rights, met with representatives of a number of nations, NGOs, and United Nations staff at the United Nations in New York.

In a letter to Stevenson dated November 18, Yuriy Sergeyev, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN, wrote, “the month of November is witnessing regained momentum in dealing with the thorny issue of piracy.” With this impetus, Sergeyev, whose country supplies the world with a large number of seafarers, organized a meeting to examine the global challenge. The session posed several issues for discussion, including ways of strengthening the UN contribution to suppressing maritime piracy, eliminating piracy’s root causes, and increasing legal protection for victims of attacks.

Stevenson’s remarks to the assembly began with several words of thanks. Praising the international community’s efforts to prevent, detect, and suppress piracy, Stevenson urged that their endeavors further provide for seafarers and the families of attacks. He noted that currently there exists no central resource for information on responding to the effects of piracy on seafarers.

Following on these remarks, the Director of SCI’s Center for Seafarers’ Rights put forward SCI’s multi-year study, noting outcomes, which contribute to a broader understanding of post-piracy circumstances. Asking the 30 countries represented at the meeting for their assistance, Stevenson declared, “A critical element in the study will be our gaining access to seafarers who have encountered piracy incidents or threats.”

After the meeting, Stevenson commented that he was “deeply touched” by Ukraine’s high-level governmental initiatives to push the international community of nations to address seafarers’ issues. They are “pressing for action,” he said, “not only to suppress piracy but also to care for the seafarers who are affected.” Stevenson, encouraged by the meeting, hopes that these and other initiatives and discussions will bring piracy to the forefront, helping to develop a successful plan of action benefiting the maritime community and the world at large.