EU adopts joint action to launch “Atalanta” operation against piracy in the Somali coast

The Official Journal of the European Union published on November, 12th, 2008, the Council Joint Action 2008/851/CFSP adopted on November, 10th, on a European Union military operation to contribute to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast. This action comes after the UNSC's and the Council's expressions of concern about the upsurge of piracy attacks off the Somali coast, which affect humanitarian efforts and international maritime traffic in the region and contribute to continued violations of the UN arms embargo.

Under this Joint Action the European Union will conduct a military operation, called “Atalanta Operatoin”, in support of Resolutions 1814 (2008), 1816 (2008) and 1838 (2008) of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Such operation will be consistent with actions permitted with respect to piracy under Article 100 et seq. of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea signed in Montego Bay on December, 10th, and by means, in particular, of commitments made with third States.

These actions will contribute to:

  • The protection of vessels of the World Food Programme (WFP) delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia, in accordance with the mandate laid down in UNSC Resolution 1814 (2008).
  • The protection of vulnerable vessels cruising off the Somali coast, and the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast, in accordance with the mandate laid down in UNSC Resolution 1816 (2008).

The forces deployed to that end will operate, up to 500 nautical miles off the Somali coast and neighbouring countries, in accordance with the political objective of an EU maritime operation, as defined in the crisis management concept approved by the Council on August, 5th, 2008.

“Atalanta” Operational objectives

  • Provide protection to vessels chartered by the WFP, including by means of the presence on board those vessels of armed units of Atalanta, in particular when cruising in Somali territorial waters.
  • Provide protection, based on a case-by-case evaluation of needs, to merchant vessels cruising in the areas where it is deployed.
  • Keep watch over areas off the Somali coast, including Somalia's territorial waters, in which there are dangers to maritime activities, in particular to maritime traffic.
  • Take the necessary measures, including the use of force, to deter, prevent and intervene in order to bring to an end acts of piracy and armed robbery which may be committed in the areas where it is present.
  • In view of prosecutions potentially being brought by the relevant States, arrest, detain and transfer persons who have committed, or are suspected of having committed, acts of piracy or armed robbery in the areas where it is present and seize the vessels of the pirates or armed robbers or the vessels caught following an act of piracy or an armed robbery and which are in the hands of the pirates, as well as the goods on board.
  • Liaise with organisations and entities, as well as States, working in the region to combat acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast, in particular the “Combined Task Force 150” maritime force which operates within the framework of “Operation Enduring Freedom”.

The appointed EU Operation Commander is Rear admiral Phillip Jones, and the EU Operational HQ will be located at Northwood, in the United Kingdom. Under the responsibility of the Council, the Political and Security Committee (PSC) will exercise the political control and strategic direction of the EU military operation.

The EU Military Committee (EUMC) will monitor the proper execution of the EU military operation conducted under the responsibility of the EU Operation Commander, and will periodically report to the PSC.

The Presidency, the SG/HR, the EU Operation Commander and the EU Force Commander will closely coordinate their respective activities regarding the implementation of this Joint Action.