The Code incorporates many elements of the successful Djibouti Code of Conduct, which has been signed by 20 States in the western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden area, and the existing Memorandum of Understanding on the integrated coastguard function network in west and central Africa, which was developed in 2008 by IMO and the Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa (MOWCA).
The new Code was developed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission, pursuant to United Nations Security Council resolutions 2018(2011) and 2039(2012), which expressed concern about the threat that piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea pose to international navigation, security and the economic development of states in the region. These resolutions encouraged the States of ECOWAS, ECCAS and the Gulf of Guinea Commission to develop a comprehensive regional strategy and framework to counter piracy and armed robbery, including information sharing and operational coordination mechanisms in the region, and to build on existing initiatives, such as those under the auspices of IMO.
IMO assisted ECOWAS, ECCAS and the Gulf of Guinea Commission in the drafting of the Code, which was initially endorsed at ministerial level by a meeting held in Benin in March 2013.
Signatories to the Code intend to co-operate to the fullest possible extent on the prevention and repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships, transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and other illegal activities at sea with a view towards:
(a) sharing and reporting relevant information;
(b) interdicting ships and/or aircraft suspected of engaging in such illegal activities at sea;
(c) ensuring that persons committing or attempting to commit illegal activities at sea are apprehended and prosecuted; and
(d) facilitating proper care, treatment, and repatriation for seafarers, fishermen, other shipboard personnel and passengers subject to illegal activities at sea, particularly those who have been subjected to violence.
Whilst promoting regional co-operation, the Code recognizes the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States and that of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other States.
Successful implementation of the Code of Conduct is expected to stimulate economic development in the member states, develop sustainable fisheries and promote the development of the maritime sector.