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Red Sea Crisis

Shipping associations welcome international condemnation of Red Sea attacks

UN IMO Secretary General Aresenio Dominguez addresses the UN Security Council
IMO Secretary General Aresenio Dominguez addresses the UN Security Council
Twelve nations have warned the Houthis against further attacks in the Red Sea on the day the UN Security Council met to discuss the situation.

A joint statement issued by Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States on January 3, said:
“Ongoing Houthi attacks in the Red Sea are illegal, unacceptable, and profoundly destabilising. There is no lawful justification for intentionally targeting civilian shipping and naval vessels.

“Attacks on vessels, including commercial vessels, using unmanned aerial vehicles, small boats, and missiles, including the historic first use of anti-ship ballistic missiles against such vessels, are a direct threat to the freedom of navigation that serves as the bedrock of global trade in one of the world’s most critical waterways.”

The statement calls for an immediate end to the attacks and warns that the Houthis will “bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways.”

The statement has been widely interpreted as a threat of military action against the Houthis should the attacks on shipping continue.

Shipping associations Bimco, The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and World Shipping Council (WSC) welcomed the statement.

“On behalf of our members and their seafarers and customers throughout the world, the organisations thank these 12 nations for their strong commitment to defending rules-based international order and to holding malign actors accountable for unlawful seizures and attacks,” the associations said.

“The shipping associations call on all nations and international organisations to protect seafarers, international trade in the Red Sea, and to support the welfare of the global commons by bringing all pressure to bear on the aggressors so that these intolerable attacks cease with immediate effect.”

The announcement from the 12 nations came on the day of a UN Security Council meeting in which nations condemned the attacks, called for de-escalation, and for the release of the captured car carrier Galaxy Leader and its crew.

The meeting included a statement from Arsenio Dominguez, Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization (IMO), who told members: “Attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea area are not acceptable. Ships must be allowed to trade worldwide unhindered and in accordance with international law. Since the beginning of November, a number of attacks have been launched against international vessels navigating in this vital shipping lane that records around 15% of international shipping trade. The initial target were ships linked to Israel, but the information we have received in recent events seems that this doesn't seem to be the case at the moment.

“The International Maritime Organization continues to closely monitor the situation and liaise with the industry representatives and navies.”

The IMO Secretary General's video address is available in full on the UN YouTube channel.

Ambassador Chris Lu, US Representative for UN Management and Reform said at the meeting: “These attacks pose grave implications for maritime security, international shipping, and commerce. And they undermine the fragile humanitarian situation in Yemen, damaging the ability of the international community to deliver assistance to more than 21 million people in need.”

While the politics behind the statement differ greatly, Russian Permanent Representative at the UN Vassily Nebenzia similarly condemned the attacks: "We strongly condemn attacks on civilian vessels that jeopardize not only the freedom and safety of navigation but also the lives and health of seafarers. Moreover, they create additional risks and increase instability in the region that is already “ablaze”."

The UN Security Council issued a statement calling for an end to Houthi attacks in the Red Sea on December 1, 2023,