A midst global cries against the intractable menace of pirates, an anti-piracy group held its first meeting last week at the United Nations to discuss best management practices for ships plying the Gulf of Aden and waters near the Horn of Africa if they are attacked or seized by Somali pirates. The one-day meeting at UN headquarters in New York was organized by the Contact Group on Somali Piracy, which was chaired by US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, Mark T Kimmitt. Practices suggested to ships, tankers or passengers in pirate- infested waters call on ship masters and crews to ‘offer no resistance’ when boarded by pirates because it could lead to unnecessary violence and harm to the crew. ‘Remain calm and cooperate with the pirates’ and ‘ensure all crew, other than bridge team, stay together in one location,’ the document on management practices released by the group said. The document offers steps to deal with action taken by military personnel to fight the pirates. It calls on the hostage crew to place their hands above their heads and not make sudden movement. The hands must be visible and not holding anything. ‘Be prepared to answer questions on identity and status onboard,’ the five-page document said. ‘It is expected that these best management practices will be periodically updated based upon operational experience and lessons learned,’ the document said. The contact group is mandated by the UN Security Council, which has imposed sanctions, including travel bans and freeze of assets, on some individuals or groups in Somalia. The group called on states and organizations to use the practices in dealing with piracy. An initial 24 countries and five international organizations took part in the discussion in New York. Those countries include the US, Djibouti, Egypt, Japan, South Korea, Japan, India and Russia. The African Union, the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, the International Maritime Bureau, the Joint War Committee and the Baltic and International Maritime Council took part in the debate. The contact group said over one-third of attempted seizures of ships in the Gulf of Aden had succeeded, but it said measures adopted by ships to repel the pirates have been positive. The 15-nation council in New York in December adopted a second resolution in 2008 to fight piracy off the Somali coast as more seizures had been recorded during the year. The council allowed states to use force against the pirates offshore as well as on land. It called for an ‘international cooperation mechanism to act as a common point between and among states, regional and international organizations’ to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea off the Somali coast. NATO countries had become involved in fighting Somali pirates, heeding the UN call.