Statement by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at the Security Council Debate on “Transnational Organized Crime at Sea as a Threat to International Peace and Security”

(As delivered)

Thank you, Mr. President for convening today’s important debate on this item [inaudible]. Japan is honored to speak at the Security Council on this very important topic. I also would like to thank the briefers for their valuable inputs.
In Japan, we have a national holiday in July called “Marine Day” to give thanks to the ocean’s blessing. As a country which conducts 99.6% of its international trade volume on maritime transportation, Japan takes the issue of maritime security very seriously. We believe that peaceful seas governed by the rule of law bring prosperity for all. Today, however, many waters of the world face the destructive consequences of transnational organized crime.
Japan believes that a free and open maritime order constitutes a cornerstone for international stability and prosperity. Our anti-maritime crime efforts are part of our “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” initiative to ensure open sea lanes and enhance connectivity between Asia and Africa.
Japan led the way in founding the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, in short called ReCAAP, which has successfully reduced piracy in Asia over the past decade. We have also sent Japan Self-Defense Forces and the Japan Coast Guard to join the multinational effort to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. In addition, we have contributed to the capacity building to tackle maritime crime through the Global Maritime Crime Programme of the UNODC.
These undertakings have helped secure some of the world’s most vital shipping lanes, and they prove that international cooperation against maritime crime can work.
Despite these successes, the issue of transnational organized crime at sea remains a concern. This is especially the case in the Gulf of Guinea, which has seen rising piracy and armed robbery in recent years. Mounting an effective response to this threat will require both a strategic and a comprehensive approach.
  • It must be strategic, using multi-layered cooperation at the national, regional, and international level. Countries need to strengthen their national institutional capacity while collaborating with their neighbors, with regional organizations, and with the United Nations to build an effective maritime governance system through harmonized legal frameworks and improved information exchange. Japan will continue to play a constructive role.
  • And it must be comprehensive by empowering individuals and communities in addition to ensuring maritime governance. Ultimately, we must tackle the overarching cause of maritime insecurity: poverty. Poverty provides a fertile environment for organized crime, and poverty drives desperate people to desperate measures. What pushes a young person to take extraordinary risks every day to produce illegal kerosene to sell on the black market, or to hijack a tanker and take hostages for ransom? Poverty and a lack of opportunity.
Thus, to uproot criminal networks, the perspective of the individual in their local context needs to be considered. UN sustaining peace initiatives, including those by the Peacebuilding Commission, can be leveraged to this end. Such a holistic approach will also help promote a blue economy—and here we are encouraged by recent efforts by some African countries to reduce marine plastic waste, which can help protect fisheries and livelihoods and ensure the sustainable use of marine resources.
Let me conclude by underscoring the importance of prevention in maritime security. Transnational organized crime can exacerbate existing problems and set off a vicious cycle, but successful prevention can help start a virtuous one. A strategic and comprehensive approach will allow us to ensure both secured sea lanes and environmentally sustainable economies, providing prosperity, security, and opportunity for generations to come.
I thank you, Mr. President.