Head, Global Maritime Crime Programme, UNODC
Alan Cole joined the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in May 2009, initially to deliver its response to Somali piracy and now Heads the Global Maritime Crime Programme.
Prior to joining UNODC he served for 18 years in the UK Royal Navy in frigates, destroyers and submarines stationed in the Adriatic, South Atlantic, Persian Gulf and Far East. He qualified as a barrister in 1999 and practiced in both civilian and military courts as a prosecutor and defence advocate. He served as the senior military lawyer to the Commander of UK Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2006/2007, advising on the law related to targeting, detention operations and the use of force. He subsequently served on a joint UK/US team in Baghdad engaging with the leadership of Iraqi armed groups. He was appointed OBE in 2008 for this work. He served as the first UK legal advisor to Combined Maritime Forces based in Bahrain in 2008 and supported a range of maritime security operations in the Gulf and Northern Indian Ocean. He co-authored the US Navy War College led Multinational Rules of Engagement Manual which has subsequently been translated into Arabic, Chinese, French and Spanish and published by the International Institute for Humanitarian Law. He holds a Master’s Degree in Criminology from the University of Leicester, United Kingdom.
Since joining UNODC he has developed the Global Maritime Crime Programme to support regional criminal justice systems with the investigation and trial of persons suspected of maritime crime. He heads a team of 50 staff across South Asia, West Africa and the Indian Ocean, and in five locations across Somalia, addressing the full range of maritime crime including terrorism, people trafficking, migrant smuggling, narcotics trafficking, fisheries crime, maritime hostage taking and maritime piracy. This has been done through the establishment and improvement of coastguard, judicial and prosecutorial capacity.
The Programme also delivers a substantial prison programme across Somalia based on providing secure and humane facilities for Somali piracy prisoners transferred to home to serve their sentences. The Programme has built three new prisons in this most challenging environment and continues to ensure their operation to international standards.
Currently the Global Maritime Crime Programme is focussing on its response to piracy in West Africa, the Indian Ocean Forum on Maritime Crime which is proving most effective in ensuring a coherent response to maritime crime across the Indian Ocean and reducing the risk of radicalisation in the prisons of Kenya and Somalia.