27 February 2012 - Security Council - Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for your initiative to convene this debate, which allows us to evaluate maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, based on the report of the United Nations assessment mission (see S/2012/45). I would also naturally like to thank
Mr. Pascoe for his briefing, as well as the representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission.
Piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea are a recent source of concern for our Council. However, African States and maritime shippers have been suffering the consequences of this situation for several years. As opposed to the situation in Somalia, acts of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea are usually conducted in areas near the coast and appear to be more opportunistic than planned operations. Nevertheless, their impact on the coastal States’ economies is substantial, as it increases the costs of maritime trade and extractive activities. The assessment mission’s report demonstrates this very clearly in the case of Benin.
Our political objective must clearly be to support the Gulf of Guinea States, which bear the primary responsibility for ensuring the security of the maritime spaces within their jurisdictions. In this organizations — ECOWAS, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and Commission of the Gulf of Guinea — to identify a regional strategy that the United Nations can support.
In its resolution 2018 (2011) of 31 October 2011, the Council welcomed the intention of Gulf of Guinea States to convene a regional conference. In this regard, we reiterate our encouragement for that initiative. We also welcome the measures undertaken by regional organizations, in particular ECCAS and its maritime security strategy and its Regional Centre for Maritime Security in Central Africa in Pointe-Noire, the Congo. Such good practices deserve to be reviewed at the ECOWAS level. We also call on the various regional organizations to better coordinate their action and their resources so that the maritime zone of the Gulf of Guinea can be monitored in its entirety and not in a piecemeal fashion.
France is acting against maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea. French naval vessels make use of their stops in the region to conduct educational and training activities. In October 2011, the authorities of Equatorial Guinea inaugurated in Bata a new regional naval school that is supported by French cooperation. France is also behind several initiatives aimed at strengthening regional cooperation in the Gulf of Guinea. It organized a regional seminar last November in Cotonou to take stock of the needs of States members of ECOWAS and ECCAS. Its recommendations will be implemented through a $1.6-million programme to reform the maritime security sector in Togo, Benin and Ghana. The first steps have been to underwrite an ECOWAS mission of maritime experts to Libreville and Douala last week to give them the benefit of the maritime structures put in place by ECCAS in recent years, which will facilitate cooperation between those two organizations in the future.
In its capacity as chair of the Group of Eight peacekeeping/peacebuilding experts, in 2011 France also proposed instituting a coordination mechanism among its members — including the United Nations and the European Union — to strengthen maritime security capacities so as to avoid duplication of efforts and to address a lack of training in certain areas. The European Union is currently looking into financing the establishment of regional mechanisms for training, information-sharing and strengthening the coastguards of the Gulf of Guinea States. The European initiative SEACOP also aims to strengthen the fight against illicit maritime trafficking and to secure ports. Those efforts, however, will be effective in the long term only if they are part of a regional strategy of cooperation among the States of the Gulf of Guinea and of national policies opposing maritime crime, including corruption, as the report of the assessment mission makes clear. The Security Council, the coastal States and the international donors each have a role to play.
We hope that the Secretary-General will continue to keep us informed on the situation in the Gulf of Guinea. We will read with great attention forthcoming reports from the United Nations regional offices in Dakar and Libreville.
We thank Togo for the draft resolution it has distributed and which is currently under discussion. We give it our full support and hope for a prompt adoption.