ReCAAP and the Anti-Piracy Information-Sharing System in Asia

Furthering its current efforts to enhance international cooperation to tackle piracy, the United Kingdom recently became the 18th party to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, commonly referred to as ReCAAP.

Entered into force in September 2006, ReCAAP is the first regional agreement for the promotion and the enforcement of multilateral cooperation against piracy and armed robbery at sea in Asia. Among its original contracting parties are South and East Asian countries. Since its entry into force, ReCAAP is also open for accession by other countries. Like the U.K., other global shipping countries with an interest in Asian maritime economy, such as Norway and the Netherlands, are also parties. Pursuant to its Article 1, ReCAAP adopts the same definition of piracy set forth in UNCLOS as well as the IMO definition of armed robbery at sea. However, ReCAAP does not provide for enforcement powers beyond those already provided in UNCLOS. Many of the lessons learned from the implementation of ReCAAP were incorporated in the Djibouti Code of Conduct, which provides a framework for information sharing, training and capacity building in the Gulf of Aden.

Notably, ReCAAP established an Information Sharing Centre (ReCAAP ISC), which is now a recognized international organization, headquartered in Singapore. ReCAAP ISC’s main functions include facilitating communication and piracy-related information-sharing among the contracting parties as well as furthering capacity building with other organizations and the shipping industry to develop and improve anti-piracy measures. As part of its mandate, ReCAAP ISC produces periodic consolidated incident reports and alerts on piracy and armed robberies at sea in the Asia region. Incidents are classified under 4 different gravity levels, measuring violence and economic impact.

 Map of ReCAAP Consolidated Incident Report for January 2012

Once piracy hot-spots, the straits of Malacca and Singapore as well as the South-China Sea more recently registered a significant drop in piracy related incidents. Due to improved surveillance and security presence, reported incidents now mainly consist of armed robberies or petty thefts at ports and anchorages, particularly in Indonesia.

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