The UN Security Council on Tuesday unanimously approved Resolution 1918 [press release], calling on member states to criminalize piracy under their domestic laws and urging Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] to consider an international tribunal for prosecuting piracy. In the resolution, the Security Council noted its previous resolutions regarding piracy, particularly piracy off the coast of Somalia [JURIST news archive], as well as the continuing security issues posed by piracy. The ineffectual nature of past resolutions, combined with the lack of action by the Somali government and the difficulties faced by Kenya, one of the few African nations to attempt to prosecute piracy, may have led to the inclusion of the request that the secretary-general investigate options for UN prosecution of piracy. Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, had previously proposed [APA report] that the UN establish a special court for Somali pirates. The resolution asks that the Secretary General's report on prosecutorial options be completed within three months.
The Security Council resolution comes the same week the UN announced that a trust fund established to combat piracy will be funding five projects [UN News Centre report] aimed at piracy committed in the waters around Somalia. The same day, unsealed indicments revealed that the US had filed charges against 11 Somali pirates [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Earlier this month, Kenya announced that it would no longer accept referred piracy cases [JURIST report], which have overburdened its judicial system, an announcement that may have spurred the Security Council to act. In January, the International Chamber of Commerce released a report indicating that maritime piracy had reached its highest levels since 2003 [JURIST report].