Stevenson Addresses UN General Assembly

May 25, 2010
by Douglas B. Stevenson, Director, Center for Seafarers’ Rights
On May 14, 2010, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Ali Treki, convened a special session of the General Assembly to discuss the problem of international maritime piracy. In addition to inviting all UN member nations, President Treki invited representatives of relevant UN Specialized Agencies, Intergovernmental Organizations, and Non-governmental Organizations to participate in the meeting. I was invited to speak in the first panel addressing piracy’s impact on seafarers and their families.
In convening the special session, President Treki noted the rapid geographical spread of maritime piracy and the complexity of the issue, necessitating a deeper and more comprehensive look at various facets of the problem to devise a coordinated response. 
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President Treki opened the meeting. Also speaking at the meeting’s opening ceremonies were Somali Deputy Prime Minister Abdurahman Ibrahim, Kenyan Trade Minister Amos Kim, and Italian Minister for Environment, Land and Sea, Stefania Prestigiacomo. 
I addressed the General Assembly in the morning panel session along with Legal Advisor of Denmark, Ambassador Thomas Winkler and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Ambassador Samir Hosny. In my statement, I stressed that in today’s globalized economy, every nation depends upon merchant shipping and seafarers. Accordingly, more attention must be given by all nations to protect seafarers from the effects of piracy before, during, and long after a piracy incident. I highlighted SCI’s initiative in conducting a clinical study of piracy’s effects on seafarers’ mental health and SCI’s Guidelines on Post-Piracy Care of Seafarers prepared by Michael S. Garfinkle, PhD, who leads the study. 
To read a copy of my statement click here. A webcast of the meeting can be viewed from the United Nations’ website here. Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Pavlin Klimkin, German Ambassador Peter Wittig, and representatives of several nations, including the Philippines and Liberia, drew particular attention to SCI’s work on behalf of the world’s seafarers and the importance of protecting seafarers. 
Afternoon session speakers included International Maritime Organization Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos, who highlighted the IMO’s efforts to address the piracy problem.
For several years, SCI has been active at the UN, participating in meetings of States Parties to the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) and has assisted Ukraine in its leadership role of highlighting seafarers’ issues in the United Nations General Assembly and other international meetings. Ukraine also made arrangements for SCI’s extern from Charleston School of Law, Kyra Kanig, to gain an insider’s view of United Nations by participating in the May 14 meeting with the Ukraine delegation.