NAM’s concerns over Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea

Maritime insecurity is a major regional problem that is compromising the development of this strategic economic area and threatening maritime trade in the short term and the stability of coastal states in the long term. The 5,000-nautical mile coastline of the wider Gulf of Guinea provides immense potential for maritime commerce, resource extraction, shipping, and development. Indeed, container traffic in West African ports has grown 14 percent annually since 1995, the fastest of any region in Sub-Saharan Africa. However in recent times, acts of piracy have steadily increased in the region. Gulf of Guinea piracy is increasingly characterized by violent assaults against vessels and hostage takings—1,871 seafarers were victims of attacks and 279 were taken hostage in 2013. Incidents of fierce resistance to naval patrols have also increased. The Non- Aligned movement has taken concern of the maritime security threats in the region and has offered the complete cooperation of its Member States in the region to combat the rising acts of piracy in the region.
Non -Aligned Movement has welcomed the UN Security Council Resolution 2039 (2012) which urged the UN Member States of the region to act with dispatch to counter the scourge at the national and regional levels, and encouraged international partners to provide support for regional patrols, coordination centres and the implementation of a region-wide strategy. The resolution encouraged Benin and Nigeria to extend their joint patrols beyond, while the countries of the Gulf of Guinea were urged to continue to work towards building their capacities to independently secure their coastlines. The resolution also encouraged international partners to consider providing support, as needed, in that regard and to the extent feasible. The Non- Aligned Movement also welcomed the conclusions of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) on maritime piracy, armed robbery and other unlawful acts committed at the Sea in the Gulf of Guinea, held on 24 and 25 June 2013 in Yaoundé, Cameroon, namely, the Political Declaration of Heads of State and Government, the Code of Conduct and the Memorandum of Understanding. A resolution calling for the establishment of regional maritime security coordination centers was adopted at a June 2013 ECOWAS summit held in the Cameroonian capital Yaoundé to discuss a common policy to respond to the security threats posed by piracy in the gulf. The plan was an ambitious undertaking that began with a non-binding agreement between 26 West and Central African states and then urged signatories to proceed to a binding agreement within three years As the President of Chad observed at the close of the Yaoundé summit, this was the first time leaders from the member states of Africa’s two Regional Economic Communities have ever met to consider solutions to a regional problem. It is significant that this agreement highlights the potential of collective security architecture of the African states, and is constant with the principles of mutual co-operation as enshrined in the Non-Aligned Movement. As such, NAM has urged its Member States towards the effective implantation of Yaoundé outcome.
Many NAM member states in Africa have extended their support to fight against the piracy in the Gulf of Guinea region. Angola recently stepped up its influence by taking the presidency of the Kimberley Process and securing the African non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council. The country is now trying to gain political weight in the field of maritime security, in order to maintain momentum and secure its role as a major player in the region.
The countries of the region have taken some actions to curb the incidence of criminal activities in their territories both on land and at sea. There has also been an increased military focus on the issue with the establishment of Special Forces to deal with criminal activities. This has been in joint efforts with domestic law-enforcement agencies and coastguards, with more patrols and better equipment. In some cases private security firms have also been used to patrol maritime borders.
NAM has urged the international community to continue to support regional cooperative efforts, but at the same time firmly believe that the scope and details of any anti-piracy strategy in the Gulf of Guinea region must be determined by the needs of African states, as delineated by African states. NAM regards that international partners should step up by fully coordinating their own capacity building efforts in Africa, and also enable sustainable programs that will facilitate a new era of maritime cooperation.

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