The UN Security Council on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing foreign warships to enter Somalia's territorial waters with the government's consent to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea.
Resolution 1816, under discussion since late April, was adopted by the council's 15 members after the sponsors reassured Indonesia that the proposed anti-piracy drive would specifically target lawless Somalia.
The agreement came after the sponsors reached a compromise with Indonesia last Friday ensuring that the anti-piracy drive would specifically target lawless Somalia.
Indonesia had raised concerns that measures adopted to tackle piracy off the Somali coast should not set a precedent for international intervention in its own piracy-prone waters.
The waters off Somalia -- which has not had an effective central government for more than 17 years and is plagued by insecurity -- are considered to be among the most dangerous in the world.
The draft gives a six-month mandate to states cooperating with Somalia's transitional government (TFG) in fighting piracy to "enter the territorial waters of Somalia for the purposes of repressing acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea."
The states must do so "in a manner consistent with such action permitted on the high seas with respect to piracy under relevant international law," it added, while the TFG must provide advance notification of such action to the UN secretary general.
The resolution also urges states whose naval vessels and military aircraft operate on the high seas and in airspace off the coast of Somalia "to increase and coordinate their efforts to deter acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea in cooperation with the TFG."
It also calls on them to cooperate with interested organizations, including the International Maritime Organization, to ensure that "vessels entitled to fly their flag receive appropriate guidance and training on avoidance, evasion, and defensive techniques and to avoid the area whenever possible."
The text, which cites Chapter Seven of the UN Charter invoked in cases of threats to international peace and security, also urges all states "to render assistance to vessels threatened by or under attack by pirates or armed robbers, in accordance with relevant international law."
The French-US initiative, co-sponsored by Panama, condemns and deplores all acts of piracy and armed robbery against vessels in territorial waters and the high seas off the coast of Somalia.
And it asks United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon to report within five months of adoption of the text on implementation of the resolution.
Dozens of ships, mainly merchant vessels, have been hijacked for ransom off the Somali coast over the past year.