On Somalia Piracy, US Questions Regulating Mercenaries, Egypt Says Crime is Crime
UNITED NATIONS, July 14 -- Amid controversy about the use of mercenaries to face off against pirates off the coast of Somalia, the US State Department's Donna Hopkins on July 14 told Inner City Press “there's a robust international effort [about] the use of armed security, private or not, and how it should be regulated, if at all.” Video here, from Minute 13:30.
Earlier in the month, the chairman of the UN's Working Group on mercenaries told Inner City Press that a draft convention to regulate private military contractors is being opposed by large states.
Apparently, even with Blackwater having renamed itself Xe Services and moved to the Middle East, the US is still opposed to regulating mercenaries, including on the high seas.
Hopkins is formally the Coordinator of the Counter Piracy and Maritime Security Bureau of Political Military Affairs at the US State Department, and chairs “Working Group Three” of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. Denmark's Legal Adviser Thomas Winkler declined to say if the use of armed security is good or bad, but added that no ship with armed guards has been hijacked.
Another Contact Group member, Egypt's Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister and Counter Terrorism Coordinator Ashraf Mohsen, adopted an even harder line. Inner City Press asked if the Contact Group has done anything about illegal fishing or the dumping of toxic waste.
“Some will try to justify criminal behavior,” Mohsen said, citing poverty as an excuse for stealing, injustice as a rationale for killing. “Crime is crime... Piracy is a form of criminal behavior. Any justification is unacceptable.”
As if to counteract this position, Mary Seet-Cheng of Singapore said that piracy cannot be solved at sea. The UK's Chris Holtby chimed in about efforts on the rule of law in Somalia, the development of its Exclusive Economic Zone. He did not mention outside involvement in what purported to be Somalia's own Law of the Sea filing. And so it goes at the UN.