What's In Blue

Posted Tue 18 Oct 2011

Gulf of Guinea Piracy Briefing

Tomorrow (Wednesday, 19 October) the Council will be briefed by the Secretary-General on the piracy situation in the Gulf of Guinea. Council members and representatives from members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) are also expected to speak. Following the briefing it seems that Council members will begin negotiations on a draft resolution which could then be adopted later this month.

Apparently the draft resolution is likely to condemn acts of piracy and armed robbery in the region, which covers the coastal waters of West Africa from Liberia down to Equatorial Guinea and beyond. Another possible focus in the draft text is affirmation of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 as the legal framework for the fight against piracy and armed robbery on the high seas. (The Convention authorises international cooperation in the measures against piracy, including the boarding, search and seizure of vessels engaged in piracy, and the arrest and trial of persons caught engaged in acts of piracy and armed robbery on the high seas.) Article VIII of the Convention of the Law of the Sea, underlining the need for international assistance to support national and regional efforts, may also be highlighted in the context of tackling the problem in the Gulf of Guinea.

Other areas that may be covered in the draft include the joint naval patrols of Nigeria and Benin in curbing piracy in the region, as well as the on-going efforts of ECOWAS member states to develop a comprehensive response to the piracy problem.

It seems that the draft may also express the Council’s interest in future recommendations for possible action in conjunction with regional states and other countries with maritime interests in the region, following a UN assessment mission of the Secretary-General.

The Gulf of Guinea piracy situation was first raised in the Council on 23 August by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, as part of the monthly DPA briefing on emerging threats. Pascoe highlighted the issue as an overlooked but significant emerging threat to international security. On 30 August, Council members issued a press statement addressing the problem.