COTONOU, Benin, March 21, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Special Representatives of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for West Africa, Said Djinnit and Central Africa, Abou Moussa attended the Ministerial Conference on Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea in Cotonou, Benin on 19 March. The meeting was organized by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (CGG) within the framework of the development of a regional strategy in response to resolution 2039 (2012) of the UN Security Council.
This meeting is a milestone for the cooperation between the three sub-regional organizations which include not less than 25 states. Three key documents were indeed adopted and will be submitted for endorsement to the Heads of State and Governments of Central and Africa West at a summit to be held in Yaoundé in May 2013.
In his statement on behalf of the United Nations, Said Djinnit welcomed “the speed with which ECCAS, ECOWAS and the IGC, 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, which include the International Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa (MOWCA), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and UNODC”.
Said Djinnit reiterated the support of the UN to this process. He highlighted that the rise of narco-terrorism in the Sahel, drug trafficking, organized crime and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea constitute major threats to peace, stability and socio-economic development of the region. “The capacities of Members States in Maritime Security should be strengthened to preserve the economic potential and human security in the area as well as the stability of the sub-region. In parallel, the concerns of the local communities should be integrated into maritime governance and natural resources management in the Gulf of Guinea,” he stated.
The Special Representative also paid tribute to the role that the President of the Republic of Benin, His Excellency Thomas Boni Yayi has played in mobilizing the international community to meet the challenges posed by the phenomenon of piracy and organized crime in the Gulf of Guinea. Indeed, following a letter sent by him in July 2011 to the Secretary General of the United Nations, an assessment mission on piracy was dispatched to the region in November 2011. The findings of this mission were endorsed by the UN Security Council in its resolution 2039 (2012) of 29 February 2012. The resolution stresses the need to adopt a holistic approach led by the countries of the region in cooperation with the African Union and with the assistance of the United Nations through its regional Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and Central Africa (UNOCA).
A steering committee was then set up to lead the process and prepare the working papers which were adopted in Cotonou. Those are (i) the Memorandum of Understanding between ECCAS, ECOWAS and CGG on Maritime Safety and Security in Central and West Africa, (ii) the Political Declaration of the Heads of State and Government and (iii) the Code of Conduct concerning the repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activities.
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