At UN-backed meeting, African States seek to combat piracy in Gulf of Guinea

A crew member prepares to board a tanker that was hijacked by pirates in Benin on 24 July 2011. Photo: IRIN/Daniel Hayduk

20 March 2013 – Representatives from three African sub-regional organizations focused on ways to cooperate to eliminate piracy in the Gulf of Guinea during a United Nations-backed meeting held this week in Cotonou, Benin.

During the Ministerial Conference on Maritime Security held yesterday, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (CGG), which together represent 25 African States, adopted three key documents to address piracy and organized crime.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, Said Djinnit, welcomed “the speed with which ECCAS, ECOWAS and the CGG paved the way towards a future integrated policy framework to fight against organized crime and piracy off the Gulf of Guinea with the assistance of the UN and other partners […]”

Mr. Djinnit added that the capacities of States should be strengthened to preserve the economic potential and human security in the area, while local communities should be integrated into maritime governance and natural resources management to ensure stability and socio-economic development in the region.

In February, the Security Council adopted a resolution stressing the need to adopt a holistic approach to address piracy led by the countries of the region in cooperation with the African Union and with the assistance of the UN Offices for West Africa (UNOWA), which is headed by Mr. Djinnit, and for Central Africa (UNOCA).

A committee was then set up to lead the process and prepare the working papers which were adopted at this week’s conference. The documents will be submitted for endorsement to the Heads of State and governments of Central and West Africa at a summit to be held in Yaoundé, Cameroon in May.

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