The security, economic and political challenges related to maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea are major ones [fr]
Debate on Maritime Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea - Intervention by M. François Delattre, permanent representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 25 April 2016
First, let me thank you, Mr. President, for having taking the initiative to convene this important debate on a matter of great concern for France. I also thank Assistant Secretary-General Tayé-Brook Zerihoun for his very instructive briefing.France also associates itself with the statement to be made by the observer of the European Union.
I would like to focus on three points.
First, the security, economic and political challenges related to maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea are major ones — for the region, for strategic partners and for the international community as a whole. The statistics speak for themselves:
- These maritime zones extend over 6,000 kilometres of coastal area, from Senegal to Angola.
- The Gulf of Guinea hosts one of the largest offshore oil fields of planet, with an estimated reserves of 24 billion barrels. That represents about 5 per cent of global reserves.
- For 10 years, more than 600 attacks have been registered against vessels on the high seas or in the territorial waters of coastal States. While the number of attacks declined in 2015, due in great in part to the mobilization of States in the region, the threat level remains high, as evidenced by the upsurge in acts of piracy since January of this year.
- Trafficking in narcotics leads to the transfer from South America to Europe of 20 to 40 tons of cocaine per year through the Gulf of Guinea, with an estimated sale price of €1.3 billion.
Those are just a few examples.The second point I want to emphasize is the mobilization of the States in the region.
Resolutions 2018 (2011) and 2039 (2012) call on States of the Gulf of Guinea to develop tools, capabilities and policies to eradicate the growing maritime insecurity in the region. States have responded to that call.
The Heads of State of the riparian countries and the heads of regional organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States, the Economic Community of Central African States and the Gulf of Guinea Commission demonstrated clear political will to fight maritime insecurity at the Summit of Heads of State and Government on Maritime Safety and Security in the Gulf of Guinea, held in Yaoundé in June 2013. At the Summit, they adopted the Code of Conduct Concerning the Repression of Piracy, Armed Robbery against Ships, and Illicit Maritime Activity in West and Central Africa and decided to establish the Interregional Coordination Centre. The latter, inaugurated in September 2014, is meant to sit at the top of a new interregional maritime security architecture, and everything must be done to enable the Centre to fulfil its role.
The African Union Summit to be held in Lomé in October and the planned adoption on that occasion of an African Union charter on maritime safety and security and economic and social development will be essential in that regard. Those are very positive developments and efforts that should be commended. France encourages the States of the Gulf of Guinea to continue along that path. And, as we did during the 2013 Sommet de l’Elysée pour la Paix et la Sécurité en Afrique, France continues to support the Yaoundé process, which we hope will become operational as soon as possible.
Finally, France’s strategy in the Gulf of Guinea aims to support the initiative of the countries of West and Central Africa.
As members know, France is one of the main supporters of the States of the region in their fight against maritime insecurity. France has been present in the area for 25 years, through Mission Corymbe and cooperation in the area of security and defence. Since 2011 — and until 2021 — the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Security Sector Reform Support project bolsters maritime security sector reform in the Gulf of Guinea. To ensure the consistency of French initiatives with the States of the region, a French support plan for securing maritime areas in the Gulf of Guinea has been developed.
France also promotes maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea within international organizations. France has actively participated in the development of a European strategy for the Gulf of Guinea, which was adopted in March 2014, as well as a European action plan, which was approved in March 2015.
In conclusion, in France’s view, the strengthening of local capacities and support for regional coordination are the principles that should guide international efforts in that region of the world. That approach is based on respect for the sovereignty of the States of the region, national ownership of solutions and, finally, the need to ensure compliance with the law of the sea and the freedom of maritime traffic.
Presidential statement S/PRST/2016/4, which we adopted today, fully reflects that approach.