Peace and security in Africa - Security Council, 9050th meeting
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Peace and security in Africa - Security Council, 9050th meeting.

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The Security Council today unanimously adopted a text calling upon Member States in the Gulf of Guinea region to criminalize piracy and armed robbery at sea under their domestic laws, and to investigate, prosecute or extradite, in accordance with applicable international law, perpetrators of such crimes, as well as those who incite, finance or intentionally facilitate them.

By resolution 2634 (2022)(to be issued as document S/RES/2634(2022)), the 15-nation organ also urged Member States in the region of the Gulf of Guinea to take prompt action, at national and regional levels, with the support of the international community, when requested by the State concerned. 

Further terms urged that, in accordance with international law, national maritime security strategies be developed and implemented.  This would include the establishment of a harmonized legal framework for the prevention and repression of piracy and armed robbery at sea — as well as prosecution of persons engaging in those crimes and punishment of those convicted.

Among other things, the Council also encouraged bilateral and multilateral partners to provide adequate legal and operational support, and encouraged regional organizations, including the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission, among others, to enhance subregional, regional and international cooperation on maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea and to further operationalize the Yaoundé architecture. 

Further terms stressed the need for a comprehensive response to prevent and suppress piracy and tackle its underlying causes by the international community, in collaboration with the States of the Gulf of Guinea, regional organizations and other relevant actors.  Member States and relevant international organizations were urged to assist States in the region in ensuring that necessary measures are taken to prevent the revenues generated by piracy and armed robbery at sea from contributing to the financing of terrorism in West and Central Africa and the Sahel.

Harold Adlai Agyeman (Ghana), speaking also for Norway, observed that it had been 10 years since the Council adopted its last resolution on maritime piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea [resolution 2039 (2012)].  Today, the region remains a global hotspot for piracy, which in turn poses a challenge to the entire world.  Citing piracy’s deep ties to terrorism and the troubling return of coups d’états in the region, he said today’s text builds on various existing frameworks, including the Yaoundé Code of Conduct, and requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council on current efforts being undertaken to combat such crimes.

Recounting the negotiation process, he said talks began in early January, after which bilateral discussions were held to address all delegations’ concerns in an open and transparent manner.  However, the adoption was then deferred due to concerns raised by one delegation related to references to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in preambular paragraph 3.  Efforts were taken to ensure that the text was acceptable to all, and delegates ultimately demonstrated the necessary flexibility to ensure the resolution could be adopted by consensus Specifically, some language was repositioned to make clear that the resolution’s provisions apply only to the situation in the Gulf of Guinea and not to other situations.

Dai Bing (China), calling for more investment by the international community in the Gulf, emphasized the importance of eliminating the root causes of piracy.  However, he questioned the relationship between the Law of the Sea Convention and international law.  The Convention is not the whole of international law, with preambular paragraph 8 stating that its scope is limited and cannot govern all maritime issues.  Therefore, the international community must develop new rules to fill the gap, as the Law of the Sea is still dynamically growing, he stressed.  There should not be any contention, he said, adding that the issue should be discussed by the General Assembly and not the Council.

Mona Juul (Norway) noted that every day more than 1000 ships crisscross the Gulf of Guinea, and that piracy costs coastal States some $2 billion a year.  The Gulf of Guinea remains the most dangerous place in the world for ships, seafarers and maritime trade.  Against that backdrop, the resolution aims to increase security.  She also observed that it reaffirms that the Law of the Sea Convention sets out the legal global framework on the issue.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield (United States), President of the Council for May, spoke in her national capacity, underscoring that maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea is crucial to Atlantic maritime security.  The international community must hold perpetrators and facilitators to account and address other underlying destabilizing issues.  She also recalled that in 2022, those crimes decreased due to international collaboration; in April, the United States and a West African team seized approximately 6,000 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated street value of $350 million.

Ronaldo Costa Filho (Brazil) emphasized that the States of the Gulf of Guinea bear the leadership and primary responsibility to counter piracy and armed robbery in the region.  Highlighting the centrality of the Yaoundé Architecture, he pointed out that piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea continue to cause financial hardship for the whole region, mainly due to disruptions to shipping, trade, transportation, and Government revenues.  The costs of piracy and armed robbery shift resources that could otherwise be used for regional development, he said, expressing regret that such issues were not taken upon by the cofacilitators of the political declaration for the second United Nations Ocean Conference.

Ravindra Raguttahalli (India) welcomed the adoption, noting that the resolution provides a sound framework for action at the national and regional level, as well as for support from the international community.  Its recognition of important international legal frameworks — including the Law of the Sea Convention — is important, he said, noting that India has been engaged with countries in the region on maritime matters and would be happy to strengthen that cooperation.  However, India is not a party to the 2005 Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf, as it diverges from India’s view of the nuclear context, he said.

Fergus Eckersley (United Kingdom) described the unanimous adoption as an important step forward.  He also emphasized that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea lays out a clear framework for all activities in the ocean.

The meeting began at 11:06 a.m. and ended at 11:31 a.m.