AFP - Veteran French politician Jack Lang will advise U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on ways of prosecuting pirates captured off Somalia, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said on Wednesday.
Envoy Susan Rice told a Security Council meeting on the long-standing threat to shipping from Somali pirates that Washington "welcomes the Secretary-General's appointment of Jack Lang as the U.N. Special Adviser on Piracy."
Ban himself earlier told the council he intended to appoint an adviser on what has been identified as the weak link in the anti-piracy struggle, but did not say who it would be. U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky later told reporters an announcement would be made on Thursday.
In addition to Rice, Ban's meetings schedule for Wednesday, issued by the United Nations, also named Lang as the "newly appointed special adviser to (the) Secretary-General on legal issues related to piracy off the coast of Somalia."
Lang, 70, is a former professor of international law but is best known for having served several terms as French culture minister and later education minister between 1981 and 2002. As culture minister, he was noted for seeking to defend the French film industry against the influence of Hollywood.
Last year, President Nicolas Sarkozy made Lang his special envoy on North Korea.
Ban told the Security Council the piracy adviser would examine how a mechanism could be established for prosecuting captured pirates, which state would host it and how those convicted could be imprisoned.
The waters off conflict-torn Somalia -- strategic shipping lanes linking Asia and Europe -- have for years been infested by pirates, who have made millions of dollars in ransoms from hijacking vessels. At least 17 ships are currently being held.
The Security Council has authorized countries to use military force to pursue pirates. Russia, Japan, the European Union and others have sent naval forces to the region.
But prosecution of captured suspects has been inconsistent and costly. Somalia lacks the legal infrastructure to support trials and Kenya has taken on much of the burden, with funding from the United Nations, the EU and some individual countries.
The Security Council on Wednesday considered a report from Ban that laid out seven options, ranging from stepping up support for regional countries to tackle the prosecutions to establishing a full international tribunal.
In a statement, the council asked a 24-nation contact group on piracy off the coast of Somalia, which was set up at the beginning of last year and meets periodically in New York, to consider the options listed by Ban.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said London had "doubts about the viability" of setting up a new international court and favoured helping regional states to conduct the prosecutions.
French envoy Nicolas de Riviere said the best medium-term solution could be a Somali court located outside Somalia, whose government is under attack by Islamist insurgents. Rice said the United States welcomed "all creative ideas."