Abu Dhabi: The UAE has said the international response to maritime piracy should be increasingly led and owned by states in the region directly affected.

As the Chair of the 11th Session of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, the UAE praised the ‘tangible advances' the Working Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia has made and upped the international response.

In his statement before the 21st meeting of the group in Djibouti on Monday, Faris Mohammad Al Mazrouei, assistant foreign minister for security and military affairs, said the Contact Group has facilitated the construction of a comprehensive counter-piracy legal regime among regional states, and supported the prosecution, trial and incarceration of apprehended pirates.

"Today, more than 1000 pirates have faced trial - most within the region," he said.

Al Mazrouei also cited the group's extensive work to raise awareness of the threat from piracy: both in terms of keeping this issue high on the agenda of the international community, and also in effective communication to Somalis, in Somalia and the diaspora, of the threat that piracy poses to their country.

He added the group has also established a specific Working Group to facilitate collective investigations that aim to trace pirate finances, so that the international community can increasingly target the ‘pirate kingpins' who underwrite pirate operations off the Coast of Somalia.

Al mazrouei outlined the areas that the UAE hopes will continue to be developed, during its 11th Chairmanship of the Contact Group on Piracy.

"The UAE looks forward to expanding communication and public information efforts, drawing further attention to suffering of captured seafarers, expanding cooperation with maritime industry and working more closely with the Somali authorities, to ensure that their priorities are reflected in the international counter-piracy response."

Al Mazrouei stressed the UAE recognises that we cannot fully respond to maritime piracy without addressing the origins of the issue, which - in part - lie in illegal fishing and dumping. "We are committed to working with our Somali partners in order to end these problems. The response to piracy can and should be increasingly led and owned by states in the region directly affected," he said.

Al Mazrouei said there is one further area the UAE hopes to actively pursue: in making efforts to ensure the frequent and active coordination between the work of the International Contact Group on Somalia, and the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

"As the response at sea gets progressively further developed, it is clear that the work of the Contact Group on Piracy must increasingly focus efforts on land, especially in Somalia. Close cooperation with the International Contact Group on Somalia therefore is more crucial than ever before. We will strive to ensure that we speak with one voice, and that we coordinate broadly toward the achievement of our shared objectives."