Marine Link
Sunday, April 23, 2017

Gulf of Guinea Piracy a ‘Deep Concern’ -UN Security Council

April 28, 2016

Rising crime in Gulf of Guinea contrasted with declining East Coast pirates; Presidential statement condemns murders, kidnappings, hostage-taking, as UN Security Council expresses deep concern over piracy
 
The United Nations Security Council on Monday expressed its deep concern over piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea, and stressed the importance of a comprehensive approach — led by States of the region, with international support — to address the problem and its root causes.
 
Issuing presidential statement S/PRST/2016/4, the Council strongly condemned acts of murder, kidnapping, hostage-taking and robbery by pirates in the Gulf, and underlined the importance of determining any links between piracy and armed robbery at sea, and terrorist groups in West Africa and the Sahel subregions. It encouraged regional organizations — including the African Union, Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Council — to enhance cooperation on maritime safety and security, calling upon States in the region to criminalize piracy and armed robbery at sea under their domestic laws.
 
The Council went on to encourage bilateral and multilateral partners to help enhance the antipiracy capabilities of regional States and organizations in terms of personnel, funding, technology, training and equipment. It welcomed the Extraordinary Summit of the African Union to be held in Lomé, Togo, on October 15, which was expected to adopt a charter on maritime safety and security, as well as economic and social development in Africa.
 
Before issuing the presidential statement, the Council heard a briefing by Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs on Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea in the Gulf of Guinea. He said there had been a steady decline in the number of recorded incidents and illegal activities over the past few years, but insecurity remained a source of concern. Six attacks had been reported in the first quarter of 2016 alone, in addition to ship hijackings off the coast of Nigeria and kidnappings along the coasts of Western and Central Africa.
 
As a result of the Yaoundé Summit, the Interregional Coordination Centre had been inaugurated in 2014 with the aim of coordinating antipiracy operations, he said. However, due to staffing, funding and other logistical constraints, it was not yet fully operational. Flexible and proactive efforts at the national, regional and international levels would be needed in responding to perpetrators who had proven to be highly adaptable, well informed and increasingly sophisticated.
 
During the ensuing open debate, Robert Dussey, Togo’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and African Integration, briefed on the upcoming Lomé Summit, saying it would see the adoption of an African charter on maritime security and development. The Lomé charter would promote a flourishing blue economy that would in turn encourage environmentally friendly development, incorporating a common fisheries policy and measures to tackle illegal fishing, he said, adding that it would build upon the 2050 Integrated Maritime Strategy for Africa, paving the way for further initiatives and actions.
 
Several speakers noted that piracy and armed robbery at sea were symptomatic of governance and development issues. They called for greater international support to support regional efforts, particularly at the level of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Maritime Security Trust Fund for West and Central Africa.
 
Morocco’s representative noted that the Gulf of Guinea had become the new centre of gravity for piracy in Africa, taking the spotlight away from the Gulf of Aden. Endowed with 8 per cent of the world’s petroleum resources, as well as fisheries and significant maritime traffic, it had plenty of targets for pirates. It was high time the Gulf of Guinea — where the pirates were reputed to be among the most violent in the world — benefited from the same international cooperation extended to the Gulf of Aden, he emphasized.
 
Egypt’s representative, however, said pirates operated differently in the two regions, so the response must also be different, reflecting different political and security situations. It was important that the shipping industry adhere to best practices in high-risk waters, he said, emphasizing that there was no time for complacency.
 
Nigeria’s representative said that criminal gangs motivated by access to crude oil, and people involved in trafficking illicit goods, as well as small arms and light weapons, had been operating in the Gulf of Guinea. Governments around the Gulf must pursue piracy networks on land and enhance their naval and air power so as to respond appropriately to maritime attacks.
 
Senegal’s representative noted that Gulf of Guinea piracy and armed robbery was no longer limited to the oil sector, but had now branched out into trafficking in people, drugs, weapons and generic medicine, as well as illegal fishing. That complicated the ability of regional States and their international partners to mobilize.
 
The representatives of both the United States and the United Kingdom called attention to attacks launched against two ships in one day off Nigeria’s coast earlier in April, which — considering the countries where the vessels were registered, their cargo and crew – involved no fewer than seven Member States. Their counterparts from Ukraine and Turkey recalled how citizens of their respective countries had been captured by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.
 
The representative of Cyprus said a fresh Security Council resolution on piracy and armed robbery at sea might prove helpful, while his counterpart from South Africa said the Council should send a clear message to the end-users of pirated goods.
 
Also speaking were Sweden’s State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and representatives of Angola, Spain, France, Malaysia, New Zealand, Uruguay, Japan, Venezuela, Russian Federation, China, Portugal, Thailand, Italy, Brazil, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Greece and Kazakhstan, as well as the African Union and the European Union.

The full text of presidential statement
“The Security Council reaffirms its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and recognizes the primary responsibility of States in the eradication of piracy and armed robbery at sea.
 
“The Security Council, in this regard, reiterates the primary role of States in the region to counter the threat and address the underlying causes of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea, in close cooperation with organizations in the region, and their partners.
 
“The Security Council reaffirms its respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of States concerned.
 
“The Security Council remains deeply concerned about the threat that piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea pose to international navigation, the security and economic development of States in the region, to the safety and welfare of seafarers and other persons, as well as the safety of commercial maritime routes.
 
“The Security Council expresses its deep concern at the reported number of incidents and level of violence of acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea since 2014, and strongly condemns the acts of murder, kidnapping, hostage-taking and robbery by pirates operating in the Gulf of Guinea. The Security Council further calls upon States in the region to cooperate, as appropriate, on the prosecution of suspected pirates and calls upon all States in the region and all relevant stakeholders to intensify their efforts to secure the safe and immediate release of all seafarers held hostage in or around the Gulf of Guinea.
 
“The Security Council notes the link between piracy and armed robbery at sea and transnational organized crime in the Gulf of Guinea and expresses its concern about the fact that pirates benefit from it.
 
“The Security Council underlines the importance of determining the existence of any possible or potential links between piracy and armed robbery at sea and terrorist groups in West Africa and the Sahel region, and urges Member States and relevant international organizations to assist States in the region, as well as regional and subregional organizations in making arrangements to ensure that necessary measures are taken to prevent the revenues generated by acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea from contributing to the financing of terrorism.
 
“The Security Council notes with concern the damage being done to the economic development efforts and the destruction of essential infrastructure, and urges support for multilateral efforts for the development of an international framework to address issues of crude oil theft and piracy and armed robbery at sea.
 
“The Security Council stresses the importance of implementing a comprehensive approach led by States of the region to counter the threat of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as related criminal activities, to address their underlying causes, and to strengthen both justice systems and judicial cooperation in the region. The Security Council recognizes the efforts of the countries in the region in adopting relevant measures in accordance with the relevant framework established by international law to counter piracy and armed robbery at sea and to address transnational organized crime, such as drug trafficking, as well as other measures to enhance maritime safety and security.
 
“The Security Council emphasizes that regional peace and stability, the strengthening of State institutions, economic and social development and respect for human rights, and the rule of law, are all necessary to create the conditions for a durable eradication of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea.
 
“The Security Council stresses that the coordination of efforts at the regional level is key to counter the threat of piracy and armed robbery at sea, and also notes the need for international assistance to support national and regional efforts to assist the Member States undertaking steps to address threats of piracy and armed robbery at sea. The Security Council thus encourages the regional organizations, including the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) and the Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa (MOWCA), to enhance subregional, regional and international cooperation on maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.
 
“The Security Council welcomes the holding of and supports the process resulting from the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Central and West African States on Maritime Safety and Security in their common Maritime Domain which took place in Yaoundé, Cameroon on 24 and 25 June 2013, and the adoption, during the Summit, of the Code of Conduct Concerning the Repression of Piracy, Armed Robbery against Ships, and Illicit Maritime Activity in West and Central Africa and Memorandum of Understanding among the Economic Community of Central African States, the Economic Community of West African States and the Gulf of Guinea Commission on Maritime Safety and Security in Central and West Africa, which encourages the implementation of Code of Conduct with a view to facilitating the adoption of a multilateral agreement aimed at eradicating illegal activities off the coast of West and Central Africa.
 
“The Security Council further welcomes the establishment of the Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC) in 2014 in Cameroon, implementing the regional strategy on safety and security and creating a framework for collaboration among the regional institutions and mechanisms of cooperation, namely ECCAS, ECOWAS, GGC and MOWCA, and also welcomes the establishment of the Regional Centre for Maritime Security in Central Africa (CRESMAC) in Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo, and the Regional Centre for Maritime Security in West Africa (CRESMAO) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, in order to coordinate the work of Multinational Coordination Centres (MCC), in fulfilling the task of the ICC in different zones, with a view to establishing a regional counter piracy and armed robbery at sea coordination mechanism covering the whole of the Gulf of Guinea. The Security Council encourages States in the region to clarify the mandate of and relationship among these bodies, in order to strengthen coordination and cooperation.
 
“The Security Council, in this regard, encourages States in the region, regional organizations, along with international partners to make fully operational all the regional counter piracy and armed robbery at sea mechanisms, including the ICC, CRESMAC, CRESMAO and MCC as soon as possible, and urges bilateral and multilateral partners to continue assisting States of the Gulf of Guinea with funds, skills, training and equipment.
 
“The Security Council also welcomes the holding of the Extraordinary High-level Meeting on the ICC by ECOWAS, ECCAS and GGC on 8 to 12 February 2016 in Yaoundé, Cameroon, which adopted the documents for the ICC with the expectation of the ICC’s full operationalization by July 2016. The Security Council notes the need for logistical and financial resources to implement the projects and programmes of the ICC, and in this regard, welcomes the meeting’s intention to organize a donor’s conference in Yaoundé. The Security Council encourages the regional organizations along with the international community to support the ICC.
 
“The Security Council encourages States of the Gulf of Guinea to formulate a regional framework for the prevention and repression of piracy and armed robbery at sea; reiterates its call upon States in the region to criminalize piracy and armed robbery at sea under their domestic laws, and to prosecute perpetrators of piracy and armed robbery at sea, consistent with applicable international law, including international human rights law. The Security Council further reiterates the urgent need to investigate and prosecute in accordance with international law, including international human rights law, those who incite or intentionally facilitate such crimes, including key figures of criminal networks involved in piracy and armed robbery at sea who illicitly plan, organize, facilitate, finance or profit from such attacks.
 
“The Security Council urges States and international organizations, as well as the private sector to share information, as appropriate, related to counter piracy and armed robbery at sea in Gulf of Guinea, and to strengthen joint coordination on regional information-sharing.
 
“The Security Council encourages bilateral and multilateral partners to provide support, upon request and where able, in terms of personnel, funds, technology, training and equipment to States and regional organizations in the Gulf of Guinea, to assist in enhancing their capabilities to jointly counter piracy and armed robbery at sea in the region. These capabilities should include conducting effective regional joint patrols, joint law enforcement at sea, joint antipiracy drills, joint maritime and air surveillance and other operations in accordance with international law. In this regard, the Security Council encourages States in the region and regional organizations to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with international partners, upon request and where able, to formulate and implement their action plans on countering piracy and armed robbery at sea.
 
“The Security Council encourages States of the Gulf of Guinea to continue building their capacities to secure waters in the region against piracy and armed robbery at sea, and urges Member States, when requested by States in the region, and where able, to assist States in improving their maritime infrastructure construction and management, including coastal ports, ship supply and repair stations, and fuel depots, as well as personnel development, in order to strengthen their capacity to carry out joint maritime operations to counter piracy and armed robbery at sea.
 
“The Security Council expresses its appreciation to the Secretary-General for the strong support provided through the United Nations Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) for the efforts on counter piracy and armed robbery at sea by States in the region; and in this regard, encourages UNOCA and UNOWAS to continue to assist States and subregional organizations, in accordance with their respective mandates.
 
“The Security Council expresses its appreciation to the West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for its efforts to support maritime security capacity-building in West and Central Africa; and in this regard, encourages Member States to make financial contributions to the West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund, and in cooperation with the IMO at its request, to assist States of the region to develop their national and regional capabilities to improve maritime governance in waters under their jurisdiction; to prevent, in compliance with international law, piracy and armed robbery at sea.
 
“The Security Council welcomes the initiative of the African Union to hold an Extraordinary Summit on Maritime Security and Safety and Development in Africa in Lomé, Togo, on 15 October 2016, which notably aims at adopting a document on maritime safety and security and economic and social development in Africa, and encourages the international community, bilateral and multilateral partners to actively participate and to support it.
 
“The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to support efforts towards mobilizing resources to assist in building national and regional capacities in close consultation with States and regional and subregional organizations, and to continue keeping it regularly informed, through SG’s UNOWAS and UNOCA reports on the situation of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea, including on the implementation of the actions described in this PRST, especially the progress made in the implementation of the regional mechanisms, the long-term maritime security, maritime governance, and maritime legal coordination, as well as regional and international cooperation on countering piracy and armed robbery at sea.”
 
Remarks by Assistant Secretary-General
Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs on Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea in the Gulf of Guinea, reported a steady decline in the number of recorded incidents and illegal activities in the area over the past few years, but noted that insecurity remained a source of concern. In the first quarter of 2016, the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre had recorded six attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, while cases of ship hijackings by the self-described “Biafra” militants off the cost of Nigeria and kidnappings along the coasts of Western and Central Africa had also been recorded recently.
 
Following an upsurge in piracy and armed robbery incidents, Heads of State and Government at a Summit in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in 2013 had committed to promoting peace, security and stability in the region, he said. Notably, the Summit had adopted a memorandum of understanding on maritime safety and security, and a political declaration on enhancing cooperation. Furthermore, the Summit had taken a decision to create an Interregional Coordination Centre, establishing a clear division of labour among the actors. The Centre’s inauguration in 2014, with the aim of coordinating all operations for the suppression of piracy and other criminal activities had marked an important and positive step in the cooperation between West and Central Africa, he noted. Nevertheless, the Centre was not fully operational due to staffing, funding and other logistical constraints.
 
More recently, he continued, an Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS), and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) had been held in February 2016 to address the challenges of making the Centre operational. Regarding the budget, the meeting had recommended that member States contribute 40 per cent of the necessary resources, while bilateral and international partners would provide the rest. Mobilizing resources remained a key priority in ensuring the Centre’s effectiveness, he emphasized, adding that all actors had agreed to organize a conference of partners and third-party contributors in Yaoundé.
 
Tackling the international crimes of trafficking, piracy and theft required a combination of efforts and an understanding that suppression was not sufficient, he said, stressing that those committing illegal acts at sea were highly adaptable, using increasingly sophisticated methods, and often well informed. The task required national, regional and global efforts to be flexible and proactive. Countering current threats called for a combination of capacities, including qualitative improvements in the collection, sharing and analysis of intelligence, as well as enhancing the capacities of law-enforcement agencies. Among other things, he underlined the importance of avoiding duplication of efforts in relation to maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea. He concluded by noting that Togo was scheduled to host an extraordinary summit of the African Union in October 2016, and expressed his belief that the event would provide a unique opportunity for the countries involved to renew their commitments to enhancing the maritime security architecture.
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