UN Security Council Seeks Regional Approach to Mitigate Piracy in Gulf of Guinea

united nations Ambassador María Cristina Perceval
María Cristina Perceval (left), Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN and President of the Security Council for the month of August, chairs the Council’s meeting on peace consolidation in West Africa. The Council decided to issue a Presidential statement welcoming initiatives taken by States in the region and regional organizations to enhance maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

The growing threat of piracy and maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea was on the docket this week at the United Nations.

In a press statement, the Security Council expressed their hope that a regional approach could be taken to mitigate the threat of piracy and armed robbery and that Member States prosecute perpetrators in accordance with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, as well as international human rights law.

“The Security Council expresses its deep concern at the reported number of incidents and level of violence of acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea, in the first half of 2013,” the 15-member body said in a presidential statement.

According to an emailed report today from the Office of U.S. Naval Intelligence (ONI), nine vessels have been hijacked in the region since the beginning of 2013, with three in the past month. Beyond hijackings, there have been 55 other reported instances of unauthorized boardings, vessels fired upon, and kidnappings this year according to ONI.

Moving toward a regional framework, Western African leaders met in Cameroon this past June at the Summit of the Gulf of Guinea Heads of State and Government. There, the participants adopted the ‘Code of Conduct concerning the Prevention and Repression of Piracy, Armed Robbery against Ships, and Illegal Maritime Activities in West and Central Africa’, which defines the regional maritime security strategy and paves the way for a legally binding instrument.

In their press statement, the UN Security Council “welcomed this move and encouraged the regional members to sign and implement the Code ‘as soon as possible.'”