[Letters] Time for joint efforts to eradicate piracy

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[Letters] Time for joint efforts to eradicate piracy

The 21st century is a highly civilized age of advanced science, technology, knowledge and information. However, on the other side of the advanced culture, there still exists the world of pirates. The Samho Jewelry was hijacked by pirates, after the Dream, operated by the same company, was captured. Fortunately, the Samho Jewelry was released after a successful rescue mission by the Korean Navy. But there are still 38 vessels worldwide currently captured by pirates.

In January, an Italian petroleum transport vessel was hijacked in the Indian Ocean. The pirate threat used to be limited to vessels crossing the Gulf of Aden to pass the Suez Canal and the vessels passing Northeastern Africa and Yemen.

Korea depends on imports for most of its raw material and energy supplies. Naturally, they come into Korea on ships. Since most petroleum and various petrochemicals are imported from the Middle East, the transport ships cannot avoid crossing the Indian Ocean, infested by the pirates. Civilian merchant vessels have no way to avert pirate attacks.

Lately, Korea and other interested nations have been aggressive in their rescue of hijacked vessels, but it is more important to prevent such incidents. The Korean government is urging shipping companies to install shelters and facilities to prevent the pirates from infiltrating the vessel. Also, they recommend having security agents onboard.

However, such measures will only add to shipping companies’ expenses and can’t be a fundamental preventative plan. Civilian vessels from countries around the world are operating in fear.

It would be more effective if the international community makes a joint effort to eradicate piracy. The entire world, not just the countries affected by the Somali pirates, will have to bring forces together to resolve this global issue.

The Somalis were under colonial rule for a long time, and during this time, foreign countries invaded their fishing ground and contaminated the nearby waters. And the Somali people’s defensive acts evolved into piracy. As a result, many Somali pirates do not feel guilty about their crimes. Sometimes, piracy is considered an act of patriotism and a way of life to escape from poverty. The Somali pirates are operating not only in the Gulf of Aden but in the Indian Ocean as well.

At this juncture, international organizations, such as the United Nations, need to take the initiative. Aid programs for developing countries and economic development assistance needs to be applied to Somalia. Developed nations should expand official development assistance for the economic recovery and social stabilization of Somalia. Moreover, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, where piracy is most active, need to be designated as a special zone.

Piracy exerts a seriously baneful influence on global free trade in the 21st century, and a defensive approach by each individual nation, such as installing a shelter in the vessel or having a security agent onboard, is not sufficient to address the cause of piracy. Economic assistance for Somalia has to be accompanied by international regulation and crackdown.

Korea can certainly make a contribution in such efforts, as we have experienced such extreme poverty but accomplished economic development. And, the secretary general of the United Nations is a Korean national, and he can certainly play a crucial role in leading an international movement to eradicate piracy.

Kim Won-tae,

a managing director at KSS Line LTD
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