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Cablegate: Somali Piracy: Hong Kong Ship Owners to Lobby

VZCZCXRO7548
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHHK #0292/01 0500920
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 190920Z FEB 10
FM AMCONSUL HONG KONG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9659
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN PRIORITY 0321
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0776
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUENAAA/SECNAV WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 0015
RUCOWCY/COGARD AMR NEW YORK NY PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0041
RULSJGA/COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HONG KONG 000292

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM
STATE ALSO FOR PM/PPA, EEB/ESC/TFS AND EEB/TRA/OTP
TREASURY FOR OFAC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHSA ATRN EWWT PREL KPIR KCRM IMO DA UK BA
SO, CH, HK
SUBJECT: SOMALI PIRACY: HONG KONG SHIP OWNERS TO LOBBY
CHINA ON RUMORED UNITED NATIONS RANSOM BAN

REF: HONG KONG 267

1. (SBU) On February 18, Hong Kong Ship Owners Association
(HKSOA) Managing Director Arthur Bowring informed Post that
the HKSOA would approach China's Foreign Ministry
Commissioner in Hong Kong to raise the industry's concerns
over a rumored United Nations ban on ransom payments to
pirates. Responding to a request from the London-based
International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the HKSOA plans to
advise China, in its role as a permanent member of the UN
Security Council, on the industry's opposition to the rumored
ban.

2. (SBU) Bowring shared a copy of the ICS letter and asked
that industry concerns be conveyed to Washington, stressing
that any ruling that impacted ship owners' ability to ensure
the protection and release of their crews could potentially
affect international trade. The text of the ICS letter
follows. (Note: Post conveyed contents of ICS letter
SPC(10)05 mentioned below via reftel. End Note.)

3. (U) Begin Text:

From:
Mr. Simon Bennett
Secretary, International Chamber of Shipping
12 Carthusian Street London EC1M 6EZ
Tel 44 20 7417 8844 Fax 44 20 7417 8877
ics@marisec.org www.marisec.org www.shippingfacts.com

15 February 2010 SPC(10)06

To:
SHIPPING POLICY COMMITTEE

Copy:
Executive Committee
Marine Committee
Labour Affairs Committee
All Full and Associate Members (for information)

POTENTIAL UNITED NATIONS BAN ON PAYMENT OF RANSOMS TO PIRATES

Action requested: To note that the issue of a potential ban
on the payment of ransoms to pirates may be brought to the UN
Security Council, and to brief your foreign ministry
officials accordingly.

Further to SPC(10)05, which concerned reports that the United
States might be considering some kind of ban on the payment
of ransoms to Somali pirates, ICS has received advice from
the CSG Secretariat.

It seems that the United States is actually considering an
international mechanism to impose the ban - UN Security
Council Resolution 1844, which concerns entities or
individuals that threaten peace and security in Somalia. If
pirate gangs, or their leaders, were included on what is
effectively a UN 'black list', it could then be illegal for
shipping companies - of any UN Member State - to pay ransoms
to these pirates. The US could then presumably enforce this
ban though its Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC),
applying sanctions to visiting ships or their companies' US
offices. However, other nations might also be minded to
enforce such a ban.

We understand that decisions on whether entities fall under
the scope of UN Resolution 1844 is taken by a Committee
established by Security Council 751, which includes all
Security Council members. However, it is unknown when or
even if such a decision will be debated, presumably it will
only be debated if the US State Department finally decides
that this is the most suitable route. Our understanding is

HONG KONG 00000292 002 OF 002


that State Department officials are currently divided on the
matter, although a decision is thought to be imminent
(through our contacts, the views of ICS have been made known
to those involved).

National associations whose governments currently have a seat
on the UN Security Council are therefore requested to contact
their foreign ministries, as soon as possible, advising them
of the practical reasons why a ban on the payment of ransoms
should be strongly opposed.

Members will also wish to liaise with their maritime
administrations to help them lobby foreign ministries.

To reiterate the arguments:

- The first is humanitarian. What else are shipowners meant
to do when the seafarers they employ, and to whom they have a
duty of care, are taken hostage, often for months at a time,
in appalling conditions, with their lives at serious risk,
and with no hope of rescue by their governments?

- If such a ban were implemented, what would happen to those
seafarers who are currently being held hostage (typically, at
any one time, about 250 seafarers are being held by pirates)?

- If such a ban were implemented, it has to be understood
that the likely result would be that the majority of
shipowners would avoid the Gulf of Aden, the Suez Canal and
north west Indian Ocean altogether (most large ships would
divert around the Cape of Good Hope). Many ships' crews
would also be likely to refuse to sail in the danger area
(which covers well over a million square miles). This would
clearly have a significant affect on the flow of a large
proportion of international trade, and send a signal to the
effect that the international community has been unable to
prevent the creation by the pirates of a huge 'no go' area in
a region of great strategic importance.

- Finally, it is worth reiterating that there is absolutely
no evidence (so far as we are aware) of any links between the
pirates, who are criminal opportunists, and terrorism.

The help of national associations will be greatly appreciated.

End text.

MARUT

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