Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum (GOG-MCF/SHADE) Plenary

Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum (GOG-MCF/SHADE) Plenary

14 July 2021

Opening remarks by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim

Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to start by thanking the Nigerian Navy and the Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC Yaoundé), Co-chairs of Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum – SHADE, for the kind invitation to speak at this very important inaugural meeting. 

I am encouraged by the establishment of this Forum, aiming to facilitate shared awareness and de-conflict activities in the region by linking all relevant stakeholders to advance and coordinate maritime security activities. 

The security situation in the Gulf of Guinea remains at the top of IMO’s and my personal priorities. International shipping is suffering. Piracy and armed robbery continue to damage the economy and trade. This situation has continued for several years, and these illegal acts must be stopped. Now is the time to make real progress. 

I am grateful to all coastal states in the region that have made positive strides in the area of interagency cooperation and response. Ghana has passed anti-piracy legislation and the recent convictions of pirates in Togo is a sign of genuine progress. IMO remains committed to supporting the building of these capacities. I particularly look forward to seeing the operational impact and results of Nigeria’s recently launched Deep Blue Project. I would also like to express my thanks for all non-regional support and their continued efforts in the Gulf of Guinea.

In May, IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) held significant discussions on how to address and deter piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, providing an opportunity to Member States to discuss further collaboration and enhance support for international, regional and national efforts to tackle piracy.  

The Committee adopted a resolution on recommended action to address piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea, which highlights the need for greater collaboration with all critical stakeholders, including information-sharing on maritime criminality and illegality, response coordination and governance options for protection solutions. 

Member States also called for the re-establishment of the Committee’s Piracy Working Group at the next session, in October of this year, to further discuss the need for collaboration and coordination of efforts. 

IMO also continues to support training and other capacity-building activities for individual Gulf of Guinea States as well as cooperative regional efforts. At the request of ECCAS, ECOWAS and the Gulf of Guinea Commission, we continue to work with the ICC Yaoundé, supporting a series of regional expert level online meetings aiming to assess the implementation and sustainability of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and to provide recommendations to the three organizations.

Improving cooperative regional security by supporting African States in their implementation of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct is also crucial to the African -- and consequently the global -- economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Capacity building for maritime domain awareness, information sharing, operational support, and the enhancement of laws and legal infrastructure are key to the success of the Yaoundé architecture, and IMO remains committed to support all capacity building efforts.

The key challenge in the Gulf of Guinea is to effectively integrate all initiatives to address piracy, armed robbery and all maritime criminality into a focused and coordinated effort through the Yaoundé Code of Conduct framework.  

IMO will continue to play a significant role in facilitating this integration, by maintaining our unstinting support for the Yaoundé Code of Conduct architecture and strengthening capability and capacity. We need to further consider how to bring together all the efforts at the national, regional and international levels and find innovative new options, to cohesively facilitate the safety and security of navigation within the region. IMO hopes to be able to facilitate such discussions in the near future.

There is a lot of work ahead for all of us. 

The world is watching and anticipating that increased trade will assist in the recovery from the pandemic. We must ensure that we succeed in our objective to support efforts by West and Central African coastal States to enhance security in the Gulf of Guinea region. 

I am hopeful that the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum - SHADE initiative will contribute to ensure the restoration of the safety and security of navigation.

I wish you a successful event. Thank you.


Read more:  GoG-MCF/SHADE | GoGMI