Delivered By: Ameirah AlHefeiti, Deputy Permanent Representative
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First, I would like to thank the briefers for their valuable remarks, and to express our appreciation to Ghana for its efforts to ensure that the subject of today’s meeting remains at the forefront of the work of this Council.
I would also like emphasize that the discussion of an important issue, such as maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, will only be comprehensive and meaningful when we listen to the regional perspectives. Regional actors are most acquainted with the aspects of this issue. It is therefore up to the international community, and this Council, to support the regional initiatives developed to enhance maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and which have proven their potential to reduce maritime crime.
As we have heard, this month marks the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Yaoundé Architecture, which was a turning point in terms of consolidating cooperation among Gulf of Guinea states to combat piracy and enhance maritime security. Therefore, we have an opportunity to reflect on this initiative and its role in enhancing stability in one of the most strategic regions on the continent, which, as we know, is home to around twenty commercial ports and represents twenty-five percent of African maritime traffic.
We commend the progress made in combating incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea in the last decade, which was evident – for example – in the decrease of these incidents by seventy percent during the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2021. We look forward to continuing to build on this progress, which has demonstrated the collective efforts of coastal states, regional organizations, and international partners in maritime security.
Maintaining security in the common maritime areas will contribute to supporting the security, stability, and development of the entire region. This means scaling up efforts to combat security threats in the Gulf of Guinea, especially criminal activities, such as arms smuggling and illegal trafficking of natural resources, which non-state actors employ as a source of finance. We are concerned about the repercussions of these criminal activities on the livelihood of the population and their economic and social conditions, which continue to be exploited by pirates and criminal networks.
Seafarers must also continue to be protected. Despite the significant decrease in looting and robbery, the region remains unsafe for seafarers. Regional states, coastal response agencies, and independent navies must therefore continue to work together to combat piracy on regular basis which also requires consistent international support.
This challenge is even more pressing since transnational terrorist groups carry out criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea to finance their operations, including by exploiting porous borders and other vulnerabilities. That is why we believe that in order to address illicit activities of piracy and robbery at sea, it is important to work towards finding sustainable solutions to the environmental degradation exacerbated by climate change and the increasing incidence of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing by foreign industrial vessels.
Finally, eliminating piracy and robbery at sea will not be possible without close coordination among all actors, with priority given to locally led solutions. The next ten years will be decisive in terms of making more innovative, effective, and coordinated efforts, keeping pace with the challenges that have become very complex in the region, especially with the increasing movement of criminal networks within the territories and its consequences for the stability of societies. These efforts would also contribute to improving information exchange and supporting regional frameworks to achieve the goals for which they were set. Here, we note the importance of building on the region’s experiences in confronting piracy during the past decade and benefiting from the experiences of other regions in Africa, while ensuring that they are adapted to the local contexts of the Gulf of Guinea.
To conclude, states of the region have shown a clear commitment to strengthening maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, and the international community must remain steadfast in supporting these efforts, including by continuing to build the capabilities of these states, so that they can address various security, social, and economic challenges they face. We do not want to leave a vacuum that enables for piracy and criminal acts.
This Council’s leadership and support, including by upholding the implementation of the resolution 2634 on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea adopted last year, is also needed to continue giving impetus to the efforts of the region.