IMO Strategy for implementing sustainable maritime security measures in West and Central Africa

IMO’s strategy for enhancing maritime security in West and Central Africa in order to counter piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit activities and to support the development of a vibrant, sustainable maritime sector.

March 18, 2014

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The  IMO’s Strategy for implementing sustainable maritime security measures in West and Central Africa outlines IMO’s undertaken and programmed work to implement all of the key areas identified in the Code of Conduct concerning the repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships, and illicit maritime activity in west and central Africa, adopted formally in Yaoundé in June 2013 by Heads of State or their representatives from 25 West and Central African countries, including 13 Presidents, as well as implementation of the MoU developed by IMO and the Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa (MOWCA). 
 
Depending on the level of contributions received, the IMO West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund will sustain and escalate the intensity of IMO’s engagement to achieve these goals. 
 
IMO’s initiatives take place within the wider context of United Nations Security Council resolutions 2018 (2011) and 2039 (2012); United Nations General Assembly resolutions including resolution 67/78 on Oceans and the law of the sea; the Zone of Peace and Cooperation in the South Atlantic; the maritime strategies of 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 (GGC) and, in particular, the Code of Conduct concerning the repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships, and illicit maritime activity in west and central Africa; and the ongoing cooperation between IMO and MOWCA with respect to an integrated coast guard function network.
 
In general terms, the aim is for the IMO Member States in West and Central Africa to put in place national legislation to criminalize piracy, attacks against ships, and other illicit maritime activities; coordinate structures and procedures; and have in place well-trained operational, technical and logistical personnel to effectively discharge their responsibilities in all aspects of maritime safety, security and marine environmental protection, thereby also enhancing regional trade by sea. 
 
In every initiative, IMO is working in close cooperation and coordination with other UN bodies, particularly UNODC, FAO, UNHCR and the regional offices of UNOCA and UNOWA, as well as other international partners such as Interpol and WCO, and development partners such as Japan, France, US Africa Command, China, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Norway and the G8++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea.
  
 
 

West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund 

The 28th session of the IMO Assembly in December 2013 unanimously adopted resolution A.1069(28) on Prevention and suppression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activity in the Gulf of Guinea.
 
The resolution, inter alia, appeals to States in the region, in close cooperation with international and regional organizations, to take all measures possible within the provisions of international law, to ensure that all acts or attempted acts of piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activities are terminated forthwith and any plans for committing such acts are also forthwith abandoned; and any hijacked ships, kidnapped seafarers held on them and any other persons on board such ships are immediately and unconditionally released and that no harm is caused to them.
 
The resolution also calls upon Governments to consider making financial contributions to the IMO West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund and in cooperation with the Organization and as may be requested by Governments of the region, to assist States in the Gulf of Guinea to develop their national and regional capabilities to improve maritime governance in waters under their jurisdiction; to prevent, within the provisions of international law, piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activities; and to assist States to build capacity to interdict and bring to justice those who commit crimes. 
 
To date, the United Kingdom Government, the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of Japan have contributed generously to the Trust Fund.
 

West African States sign Code of Conduct concerning the repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activity in West and Central Africa

The Code was adopted formally by the Head of State meeting in Cameroon's capital Yaoundé on 25 June 2013 and was signed by ministerial level representatives of 22 States immediately afterwards. The Code incorporates a number of elements of the Djibouti Code of Conduct, the regional counter-piracy agreement for East African States but is much wider in scope as it addresses a range of illicit activities at sea including illegal fishing, drug smuggling and piracy.
 
Code of Conduct Signatory States (22 in total) 
Angola
Benin


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Cameroon
Cape Verde
Chad
the Congo
Cote d'Ivoire
the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gabon
Gambia
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Equatorial Guinea
Liberia
Mali
Niger
Nigeria
Senegal
Sierra Leone
Sao Tome and Principe
Togo
 
The Code also builds on 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 Organisation 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 with assistance from the IMO and pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions 2018 (2011) and 2039 (2012). These resolutions called upon the States in the region to develop a comprehensive regional strategy and framework to counter piracy and armed robbery, including information sharing and operational coordination mechanism while building on existing initiatives such as those initiated and overseen by IMO.
 
IMO currently has two regional coordinators based in Côte d’Ivoire for west and central Africa (Francophone) and Ghana for west and central Africa (Anglophone).
 

Memorandum of Understanding between IMO and the Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA)

IMO and the Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) developed a Memorandum of Understanding in July 2008 to establish a sub-regional integrated coastguard network in West and Central Africa and provide the framework of cooperation and guidance for the implementation of the Network. The MOU which has been signed by 15 coastal States in the region aims to initiate joint efforts in the domain of maritime activities to protect human life, enforce laws and improve the safety and protection of the environment.
 
In keeping with the MOU, the aim of our technical cooperation activities is to create an integrated coast guard function network project and to develop it with other maritime actors in West and Central Africa. The focus is to extend West and Central African States' capabilities to implement and enforce maritime safety and security legislation and to counter piracy and armed robbery against ships and other criminal activities.