At the end of October 2016, the 26 sailors of Naham 3, held hostage in Somalia for more than four years were released. Behind this outcome was the work of several people, both locally and remotely, and several organizations.
One of the active participants is Oceans Beyond Piracy, a program of the U.S.-based NGO One Earth Future. Jérôme Michelet, a former French naval officer, and associate director of Oceans Beyond Piracy, discusses the actions and objectives of OBP.
Mer et Marine: Oceans Beyond Piracy is an NGO-type structure, located in Colorado. How an American association located so far from the sea comes to be interested in piracy and for what purpose?
Jérôme Michelet: OBP is a program of One Earth Future which was founded as a “think tank” eight years ago by a Canadian, Marcel Arsenault, who made his fortune in real estate, mostly in Colorado. He wished to establish a philanthropic organization with the stated mission of improving the problems of governance as a way to reduce conflict. This Think Tank quickly became a Do Tank, with the creation of Oceans Beyond Piracy in 2010. At that time, incidents of Somali piracy had spiked and was at the center of the concerns of the maritime world, be it ship owners, insurers, fishermen or military navies involved in traffic protection in the region.
At the time, we wanted to propose a voluntary, neutral approach to the issue of piracy: we started with the publication of annual reports by geographic area and then, in line with our objective of improving governance, proposed an intensification of dialogue between the different actors involved: governments, international institutions, ship owners, sailor…
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