May 10, 2021

Statement by Miss. Yohana Paulos Technical Advisor on IMO Matters at the 103rd Maritime Safety Committee Session

Statement of the State of Eritrea on document No. MSC 103/9/3/Rev.1 submitted by the Islamic Republic of Iran under Agenda item 9 ‘Measures to enhance maritime security’ of the MSC 103rd Session.

Madame Chair, Your Excellencies and respected delegations,

The Government of the State of Eritrea wishes to express its appreciation to the International Maritime Organization’s 103rd Maritime Safety Committee for this opportunity and would like to address the Session in regards to this agenda point, specifically the draft resolution MSC 103/9/3 Rev. 1 presented by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Located along the busiest maritime commercial route and having one of the longest coastlines on the Red-Sea, Eritrea attaches utmost importance to the safety and security of its own as well as that of international maritime route along its boundary. Eritrea strongly believes that the Red-Sea and its international maritime route’s safety and security should, primarily be the legal responsibility and obligation of the littoral States.

Accordingly, the Eritrean navy has been, with limited resources, continues to play an important role in securing Eritrea’s territorial waters and adjacent maritime route from unlawful activities such as terrorism, piracy, drug trafficking, human trafficking, illegal fishing etc. that might threaten the safety of this vital maritime route. Additionally, Eritrea is an active member of the Council of Arab and African Coastal States of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden which was established for coordination and cooperation purposes of protecting the safety and security of the Red Sea.

Eritrea on the other hand, firmly believes, that vessels that navigate through international waters should always abide by the international maritime safety rules and regulations and should respect territorial integrity of littoral states, and therefore, condemns any sort of trespassing by vessels to a country’s territorial waters without the consent and permission of those littoral States.

Madame Chair,

Allow me to walk you through the main issue of why the Eritrean Government wishes to address this session. A technically classified “General Cargo” Ship-named SAVIZ, which sails under the Iranian Flag, first appeared on the Red-Sea international territorial waters towards the end of 2016 for a mission that is unknown to the Eritrean Government. The Ship remained anchored close to the Dahlak Archipelago of Eritrea for few years, at times, violating the Eritrean territorial frontiers. Despite multiple incidents of infringement by the Ship, the Government of Eritrea did not opt for a unilateral action against it, with the belief that, doing so might endanger the safety and security of the commercial route which is of great international importance. As a solution, the Eritrean President H.E. Isaias Afewerki wrote an official letter, on the 23rd of February 2020, to the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Belgium (President of the UNSC at the time), voicing Eritrea’s concerns regarding the intrusive presence of the vessel and calling for legal action by the UNSC. A copy of the same letter was simultaneously sent to H.E. Antonio Guterres, but unfortunately, no reply was given from either of them.

In the meantime, it is to be recalled that on the 6th of April 2021, SAVIS was attacked by unknown entities. The attack and subsequent explosion happened inside Eritrea’s territorial waters. In that regard, the Government of the State of Eritrea would like to share its grave concern with this Session that such a unilateral action, inside the Eritrean maritime borders, violates the sovereignty of Eritrea. The Government of Eritrea also rejects any unilateral attack in the international maritime waters as it can compromise the safety of navigation and can create unnecessary security situation which goes contrary to the International Maritime Organization’s safety rules and regulations which is based on smooth and orderly movement of vessels across the world.

Madame Chair,

Eritrea alongside the littoral states of the Red Sea remains committed to work with the International Maritime Organisation and partners in line with the International Code for the Security of Ships and Port Facilities, the ISPS Code as well as the SOLAS Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. This is evident in the sharp decline of piracy and armed robbery in the Red Sea as reflected in GISIS website.

The declaration of the Red Sea as a high risk area would be detrimental to international maritime trade which is already under severe pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and would cause an insurmountable strain on the development and prosperity of the littoral states and countries which depend on the ports of those littoral states.

Madame Chair,

My delegation wishes to stress the overwhelming repercussions of considering the Red Sea as a High Risk Area and requests that member states adhere to the International Maritime Organisation’s safety and security rules and regulations and that the Maritime Safety Committee dismisses the proposal of designating the Red Sea as a High Risk Area.

Finally, I wish to take this opportunity to convey and reiterate my Government’s commitment and readiness to work with partner countries as well as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to ensure the safety and security of the Red-Sea international commercial route.

I thank you.

Friday, 7th May 2021

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