More steps are needed to eliminate piracy in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of West Africa, according to Martha Pobee, assistant secretary general of the UN for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations.
On Wednesday, Ms. Pobee informed the Security Council at the UN’s headquarters.
International cooperation, she claimed, was having a positive impact on the fight against piracy in West Africa, but the threat of it spreading to other areas needed to be completely eliminated.
Despite progress against criminal organizations that operate on the high seas, the UN official stated that “piracy incidents continued to threaten the safety of maritime traffic in the region.”
She stated that a steady decline in pirate events in the Gulf of Guinea since her last briefing on maritime security in November was largely attributable to actions taken by national authorities and regional and international partners.
The ongoing operationalization of the so-called Yaoundé architecture, which was formed in 2013 with the signature of the relevant Code of Conduct by actors in the region, has strengthened these combined effective deterrents against criminal organizations, according to the UN official.
Four out of the five interregional coordination centers, she said, were now operational.
The official continued, “Such initiatives, including the creation of combined naval task forces, have improved cooperation and information sharing while establishing a centralized procedure for maritime security that fills gaps in national and regional capacity.
She warned that there are still gaps and urged more support to close them. These include difficulties like the lack of suitable tools and long-term funding to guarantee the full operationalization of the Code of Conduct.
To continue recent advances, she advised “rapidly addressing the challenges that hamper the full operationalisation of the Yaoundé architecture.”
She claims that recent data indicates that incidents are already gradually moving from West African waters to the UN Economic Community of Central African States’ maritime space.
According to the UN secretary general’s report on piracy in the area, between 2016 and 2021, pirate groups in the area changed their tactics and shifted their attention to “kidnapping for ransom” piracy.
A research by the UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme revealed that “kidnapping for ransom” piracy peaked in 2020, with over 140 people reportedly being kidnapped at sea, according to the report.
The analysis showed that the pirate gangs engaged in indiscriminate operations, attacking all kinds of vessels, including fishing boats, and expanding their operations farther away. At the time, some instances were documented more over 200 nautical miles from the coast.