France's Jack Lang to be UN piracy advisor: US envoy

26th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has appointed former French culture minister Jack Lang to be the United Nations special advisory on piracy, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said Thursday.

Lang's job will be to "identify any additional steps that can be taken to assist states... prosecute and imprison persons who engage in piracy," Nesirky said.

He also will explore the willingness of states in the region to serve as hosts for new judicial mechanisms proposed by the secretary general, he said.

Lang is a member of parliament for France's Socialist party. Last year right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy made him a special envoy on North Korea, after sending him to Cuba to help renew ties with Communist rulers there.

Unofficial figures show 2009 was the most prolific year yet for Somali pirates, with more than 200 attacks -- including 68 successful hijackings -- and ransoms believed to exceed 50 million dollars in total.

The UN Security Council appealed to member states in a resolution in April to criminalize piracy and to strengthen their laws so that pirates seized off the coast of Somalia can be tried and imprisoned.

Ban submitted a report to the council in July outlining options for dealing with the thorny jurisdictional issues that arise in piracy cases.

These range from efforts to strengthen the courts and prison systems of states in the region to creating an international criminal tribunal.

But he also proposed creating special courts for trying pirates. These could include an at-large Somali court, special courts within the judicial systems of surrounding states, or even a regional court.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice Wednesday welcomed the appointment in a statement to the Security Council, as it assessed options for confronting piracy, particularly off Somalia and the Horn of Africa where the crimes have "taken on troubling modern form."

"The United States welcomes the secretary-general's appointment of Jack Lang as the UN Special Advisor on Piracy," Rice said.

"We look forward to working closely with him and coordinating our efforts."

© 2010 AFP

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