February 2019 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2019
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Maritime Crime

Expected Council Action

On 5 February, the Security Council is scheduled to hold a debate on transnational organised crime at sea. Equatorial Guinea’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Simeón Oyono Esono Angue, is expected to chair. The Executive Secretary of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, Florentina Adenike Ukonga, and the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, are expected to brief. No formal outcome is anticipated.

Key Recent Developments

Equatorial Guinea circulated a concept note describing the purpose of the debate as focusing on the root causes of transnational organised crime at sea and inviting Council members to discuss means of prevention and enhanced cooperation in this regard, including by addressing the linkages between terrorism; piracy; and human, weapons and drugs trafficking in this context.

The debate seeks to build on the Arria-formula meeting held on 13 June 2018 on maritime crime as a threat to international peace and security, which was convened by Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, the Netherlands and the US, jointly with UNODC. The concept note said the meeting would allow member states to address “the common and interlinked emerging crimes at sea, including piracy and armed robbery, arms and drug trafficking, fisheries crime, smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons”. (For more details, see our What’s In Blue story of 12 June 2018.) 

The Council has considered the issue of piracy off the coast of Somalia for over a decade and each year reauthorises international naval forces to fight piracy in that area. The Council has also addressed piracy in the Gulf of Guinea since 2011. Following an April 2016 open debate on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, the Council adopted a presidential statement expressing concern over the threat posed by piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea. It also noted the links between piracy, armed robbery at sea and transnational organised crime.

On 19 December 2018, during Côte d’Ivoire’s presidency, the Council held a meeting on drug trafficking in West Africa as a threat to stability, with Fedotov briefing. The Council had previously discussed drug trafficking and its threat to stability and peace and security five years earlier, in December 2013. Fedotov highlighted “new, alarming trends in drug trafficking in West and Central Africa, with disruptive and destabilizing effects on governance, security, economic growth and public health” and referred to linkages among terrorism, illicit drugs and other forms of crime.

Key Issues and Options

Key issues include:

  • addressing the root causes of maritime crime;
  • considering how preventing and countering maritime crime can contribute to preventing conflicts and sustaining peace in post-conflict environments;
  • considering how to improve international and regional cooperation in preventing, investigating and prosecuting maritime crime; and
  • identifying gaps in the legal frameworks governing maritime crimes.
Council Dynamics

Council members recognise that the broad range of peace and security threats related to maritime crime require coherent and effective multilateral approaches, given the transnational implications of this issue. Côte d’Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea, which are on the Gulf of Guinea, have particular interest in the issue, given the significance of these threats to their respective sub-regions.

Following the June 2018 Arria-formula meeting held at the initiative of the Netherlands, Council members negotiated a draft presidential statement on maritime crime for several months, but were unable to reach consensus on a text. It is unlikely that the draft will be revived at this time.

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UN Documents on Maritime Crime

Security Council Presidential Statement
26 April 2016S/PRST/2016/4 This was a presidential statement which encouraged regional states, regional organisations and international partners to make fully operational the Gulf of Guinea counter-piracy mechanisms as soon as possible.
Security Council Meeting Records
19 December 2018S/PV.8433 This was a briefing on “Drug trafficking in West Africa as a threat to stability” by Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Yury Fedotov.
25 April 2016S/PV.7675 This was an open debate on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

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