UNITED NATIONS — A 10-nation board approved Friday 2.1 million dollars in UN funding for five projects to help Somalia and neighboring countries prosecute suspected pirates.
"Piracy off Somalia is a menace to the region and the world," said UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe, chair of the board overseeing a new trust fund. "Prosecuting suspected pirates is an important piece of the international strategy to combat the problem."
An international armada of warships has patrolled an area in the north of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden for more than a year in a bid to curb piracy.
But countries that have captured pirates have often struggled to bring them to justice due to legal technicalities.
Four of the projects in line for the funding are designed to support institutions in the Seychelles, which along with Kenya serves as a regional center to prosecute pirates, as well as in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland state and its breakaway region of Somaliland.
They will specifically deal with mentoring prosecutors and police, building and rehabilitating prisons, reviewing domestic legislation on piracy and enhancing court capacity.
A media project will help local partners design and spread anti-piracy messages across Somalia.
The trust fund was launched in January by a Contact Group on piracy off Somalia.
Its supervising board includes 10 voting members: Djibouti, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Kenya, the Marshall Islands, Norway, Somalia and the United States.
There are also three non-voting UN bodies: the International Maritime Organization, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the UN country team for Somalia.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council was expected to approve next week a Russian draft resolution urging a stronger UN mechanism to ensure effective legal action against pirates caught off Somalia's shores.
The text would direct UN chief Ban Ki-moon "within three months to prepare a report outlining various options of a stronger international legal system" to deal with the pirates.
Somalia has had no effective central authority since former president Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, setting off a bloody cycle of clashes between rival factions