Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS)

Naval Response

Ongoing activity

Working Group 1 (WG1) of the CGPCS, was tasked with promoting military and operational coordination between the navies involved in counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, with particular focus on the Gulf of Aden, the Internationally Recognized Transit Corridor (IRTC), and in the Somali Basin. Through WG1, the CGPCS established an interactive partnership with the co-chairs of the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) mechanism to enable a fuller understanding of the operational situation and the international community to respond to the concerns of military commanders. Members of WG1 have agreed on a number of concrete steps that could be taken to mitigate threats such as extending the use of industry Best Management Practices, increasing the use of military Vessel Protection Detachments for vulnerable shipping, increasing the number of military assets available for the operations, and possibly increasing land-basing options in the region to support the ongoing counter-piracy operations. WG1 has now shifted its focus to regional capacity building and under the name 'Working Group on Capacity Building'>

Industry Response

Ongoing activity

Working Group 3 (WG3), 'Maritime Counter-Piracy and Mitigation Operations', tasked with addressing ways to strengthen shipping self-protection capabilities, has worked closely with the shipping industry and seafarer groups to complete and promote counter-piracy measures such as the Best Management Practices (BMP). Work is underway to develop audio-visual counter-piracy training presentation materials for mariners by industry. WG3 has also developed a draft framework for flag states to implement best practices to avoid, evade, and defend against acts of piracy. 

Plight of Seafarers

Ongoing activity

Working Group 3 (WG3) plays a role in addressing the plight of seafarers and works with industry and seafarer groups, such as the Maritime Piracy-Humanitarian Response Program (MRHRP) and the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI), to formulate guidelines for seafarers’ welfare, especially for kidnapped seafarers and their families. CGPCS, through the Trust Fund, has supported the Hostage Support Programme that is being implemented by the UNODC.

Messaging and Advocacy

Activity implemented

Working Group 4 (WG4) of the CGPCS was tasked with improving diplomatic and public information efforts on all aspects of piracy and using messaging and outreach strategies to raise awareness of the dangers of piracy and inform the public in the area and abroad of the dangers posed by piracy. WG4 oversaw the implementation by UNPOS of a project aimed at “Utilizing Media to Prevent and Combat Piracy” funded by the International Trust Fund, which also funded another 18-month counter-piracy messaging project in Somalia implemented by UNPOS. WG4 developed the document Messaging to the International Community which was endorsed by the Contact group and reaffirmed that the Federal Government of Somalia should lead counter piracy messaging with the support of the CGPCS. In October 2012 Copenhagen hosted an event focused on counter-piracy messaging that was attended by representatives of the Somali diaspora, including community youth-leaders. In November of 2013 the Working Group concluded that it had completed its mission.

Regional Capacity

Ongoing activity

In 2009 Working Group 1 of the CGPCS carried out a regional counter-piracy capability development needs assessment and prioritization mission to East Africa and the Horn of Aden. The mission report titled “Regional Counter-Piracy Capability Development Needs Assessment and Prioritisation Mission to East Africa and the Gulf of Aden 7-13 September 2009” was endorsed by CGPCS in January 2010 as the basis for future work to address counter-piracy capability needs in the region. The needs assessment report recommended that (1) implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct should underpin all regional counter-piracy activity; (2) any activity, particularly in Somali, support the political process; (3) solutions should be comprehensive and include penal/judicial legislation, prosecution, media and communications, community involvement and alternative livelihoods as well as kinetic counter-piracy capabilities; and (4) national/sub-national training requirements should be matched with regional and international training opportunities. Working Group 1 has since been renamed the Working Group on Capacitu Building and is currently co-chaired by the UK and the Indian Ocean Commission. 


The Capacity Building Coordination Group (CBCG), with support from WG1, has developed an online Capacity-building Platform that serves as a needs assessment matrix to maximize transparency among participants of regional capacity-building activities and ensure an up-to-date picture of regional capability development. Furthermore, the CGPCS established the International Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (The International Trust Fund) to support activities related to implementing the objectives of the CGPCS. The International Trust Fund has so far supported projects related to prosecution and detention in Kenya, Seychelles and Somalia as well as a public awareness promotion campaign in Somalia.

Somali Capacity

Ongoing activity

The CGPCS, through its five working groups has engaged the Somali regional and federal governments on a variety of counter-piracy issues. The online Capacity-building Platform, administered by the Capacity Building Coordination Group, provides an overview of Somali needs and provides a forum for international donors to provide support, monetarily or otherwise, to the development of organic Somali capacity. 

Rule of Law

Ongoing activity

Both Working Group 2 and Working Group 5 deal with the legal issues that surround maritime piracy. Working Group 2 (WG2) of the CGPCS is now the 'Legal Forum of the CGPCS' and will exist to preserve the legal network and virtual legal forum of experts. In the past, WG2 has focused on encouraging apprehension, prosecution, and imprisonment of pirates within national legal systems and has developed a 'legal toolbox' to support states and organizations and strengthen their capacity to combat piracy at armed robbery at sea. Several possible judicial mechanisms considered by WG2 and the CGPCS are described in the UN Secretary-General's report on possible options to further the aim of prosecuting suspects of piracy and/or armed robbery at sea from July 2010. Ambassador Jack Lang was appointed by the UN Secretary General to investigate and provide a recommendation on which of these options provides the most viable way ahead. This resulted in the so-called ‘Jack Lang Report’from January 2011 and further elaborated on in a report by the UN Secretary-General from June 2011 on the modalities for the establishment of specialized Somali anti-piracy courts. In January 2012, the chairman of WG2 was consulted for the ‘Report of the Secretary-General on specialized anti-piracy courts in Somalia and other States in the region’. WG2 is currently co-chaired by Mauritius and Protugal. 


Working Group 5 has been renamed  'Disrupting Pirate Networks Ashore, it will continue to focus on financial flows of piracy and arresting pirate kingpins. Italy continues to chair WG5. At the 13th Plenary meeting, which took place in December 2012, the CGPCS welcomed the progress being made in piracy prosecutions, supported the continued implementation of the UNODC Piracy Prisoner Transfer Programme (PPTP), and encouraged the Somali authorities to pass a complete set of counter-piracy legislation without delay. The CGPCS also welcomed a new publicly assessable database, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research (UNICRI) Database on Court Decisions and Related Matters concerning piracy on the global level; the CGPCS encourages states to contribute to this database.


Ongoing activity

The CGPCS provides a forum for exchange of information and ideas, and coordinates the efforts of states and relevant organizations through five working groups: Working Group 1, the 'Working Group on Capacity Building', now concentrates on regional capacity building; Working Group 2, the 'Legal Forum of the CGPCS', preserves a virtual forum of legal experts; Working Group 3, 'Maritime Counter-Piracy and Mitigation Operations', tasked with discussing ways to enhance shipping self-protection measures; Working Group 4 tasked with issues related to public diplomacy and public information campaigns related to counter-piracy; and Working Group 5, 'Disrupting Pirate Networks Ashore' tasked with coordinating efforts to counter illicit funding and financial flows related to piracy. Furthermore, the International Trust Fund was established by the CGPCS to support initiatives related to the prosecution and detention of suspected pirates as well as other activities such as legal capacity-building. To facilitate information sharing between CGPCS participants and partner, a matrix mechanism has been developed under Working Group 1 to map and coordinate capacity-building efforts in the region, identify needs, and link donors to specific projects.