Delivered By: Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Thank you, Mr. President.
I’d like to thank Ghana for convening today’s meeting on this important topic and I’d also like to add my thanks to all the briefers for their invaluable insights.
The UAE welcomes the ongoing international cooperation against piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea, and we’re encouraged by the progress achieved in stabilizing one of the most important maritime zones in Africa. Over the past year, particularly since April 2021, there has been a substantial decline in the number of piracy incidents and crew kidnappings at sea in the Gulf of Guinea. From 123 cases of piracy and armed robbery at sea in 2020, the number dropped to 45 in 2021. The downward trend has continued in 2022 with the International Maritime Organisation reporting just 13 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first six months of 2022. That is a significant decline, and it illustrates that international, regional, and national efforts can improve the maritime security landscape in the Gulf of Guinea, but we must also recognize that the drop in the piracy threat may be due also to a shift in focus of criminal groups active in the region, as mentioned by Ms. Pobee in her briefing.
However, piracy still remains a serious problem and thus should matter to all of us. The combined financial loss caused by instances of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is estimated to be almost 2 billion dollars per year, in addition to the indirect financial damage to coastal communities. So as we approach the 10th anniversary of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct next year, we commend the signatories of this Code of Conduct for advancing the framework in order to curb threats to freedom of navigation, protect the safety of the people in the region, and promote trade, exports, and the economic growth of the coastal states. To protect the gains made so far and to remain united on this issue, the Security Council should continue to support the implementation of Resolution 2634 of 2022, which was spearheaded by Ghana and Norway, including by coordinating with other stakeholders, such as the Peacebuilding Commission and all the relevant UN agencies.
Combating piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea is undoubtedly a long-term endeavor, requiring joint action among affected coastal states, regional organizations, and international partners. The UAE would like to stress three points with regards to the impacts of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and its root causes so we can better inform our policy response:
First, we know – as has been repeated here today – that behind the threats to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea lurk a wide range of criminal activities. Such activities include the smuggling of weapons and trafficking of natural resources, both of which are increasingly being used to the benefit of cross-border terrorist groups. The UAE is alarmed by reports that terrorist groups in the Sahel are increasingly threatening the countries along the Gulf of Guinea. We’re also deeply concerned about the risk of the spread of extremism throughout the region and its short and long-term destabilizing effects on communities. The UAE believes that the burden of confronting terrorism cannot and should not be borne by any single country or region alone. Therefore, we support – and will continue to support – coastal West African countries in their efforts to counter terrorism. We thank Ghana especially for its strong and forward-looking leadership in this regard.
Second, I’d like to further emphasize the importance of regional anti-piracy efforts. Regional leaders are best placed not only to understand the threats posed by piracy, but also to alert neighboring states to piracy activity, so that early prevention initiatives can be put into place. They are also best placed to provide important context for community-based prevention efforts, which are critical for combatting criminal and terrorist activities and recruitment. I would add that these community-based efforts must take into account the unique challenges women and girls face in these environments.
Third, to find a sustainable solution to the problem of piracy and armed robbery at sea, we must address its root causes. We believe that one of the critical challenges that contribute to these problems is climate change. The coastal belt off the Gulf of Guinea is low-lying and vulnerable to sea level rise, which, coupled with continued environmental degradation in the Niger Delta and other climate-related disruptions, exacerbates fragilities in the region and causes coastal communities to face loss of fishing stocks and agricultural opportunities. This, in turn, leads to the loss of livelihoods, increasing poverty and instability. Such an environment is highly vulnerable to exploitation by pirate groups, who draw desperate communities into criminal activities as a means of survival. Anti-piracy solutions in the Gulf of Guinea, therefore, must include measures that help improve regional collaboration on climate change and climate-resilience of the most exposed communities.
We thank Ghana again for spotlighting this matter on the Council’s agenda, and we reiterate the UAE’s support for all efforts towards peace, stability, and prosperity for that region.