Martha Pobee, a top UN official, has urged nations and their international allies to step up efforts to combat the threat of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
In a Tuesday briefing to the UN Security Council in New York, Ms. Pobee, an Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), made the request.
Ms. Pobee warned of a changing scenario that would require a stronger reaction as she delivered the most recent report on the subject from the Secretary-General.
She said that coordinated efforts by national authorities, assisted by regional and international partners, on land and at sea, had led to a decrease in incidences.
Criminal conduct has been discouraged by measures like stepped-up patrols, the deployment of naval assets, improved cooperation, and convictions.
Nevertheless, she claimed that over this time, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has changed, with pirate organizations “adapting to shifting dynamics both at sea and in shore communities.
In this regard, the recent drop in piracy may be partially attributed to criminal networks’ switch to other maritime and riverine crimes, like oil bunkering and theft, which they probably perceive as both less dangerous and more lucrative.
She emphasized that, in accordance with the Yaoundé Code of Conduct, which was signed in June 2013, it was crucial for States and their regional and international partners to step up efforts to establish security in the Gulf of Guinea.
The establishment of a Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) for a zone that includes Cabo Verde, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Senegal is one of the accomplishments mentioned by Ms. Pobee as examples of those made since that period.
Eight foreign partners and 17 of the 19 countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea participated in a marine exercise last October over a region extending from Senegal to Angola.
She also emphasized the UN’s ongoing political and technical assistance to States, notably through organizations like the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (IOM).
She informed the Council that there was “currently no solid information to establish any potential or conceivable links between terrorist and pirate organisations.”
But eventually, both threats can be contained by addressing the fundamental social, economic, and environmental problems that communities in the region are facing.
According to Ms. Pobee, the UN is enhancing its cooperation with international financial institutions in order to assist nations in tackling the root causes of fragility and security.
The head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ghada Waly, highlighted the chance to devote more attention, resources, and action to strengthening maritime security and the rule of law in the Gulf of Guinea at a briefing as the Yaoundé framework’s tenth anniversary drew near.
She pleaded for the world community to assist states in establishing domestic legislation that criminalizes piracy and makes it possible for prosecution.
To strengthen enforcement efforts and give every case pursued a “legal conclusion,” she stated, “we must boost our investigation and prosecution capacities.”
Ms. Waly emphasized the necessity for prompt action to “avoid the threat from simply taking a different form” in view of the shifting trends in piracy.
She recommended the creation of a regional framework to boost cooperation and cautioned against the risk that terrorist organizations in the Sahel would collaborate with illegal businesses in coastal areas.
The UNODC Executive Director emphasized the critical importance of engaging with vulnerable coastal communities to address the underlying causes of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
These people must also contend with issues like biodiversity loss and environmental deterioration, which are exacerbated by illegal fishing and climate change.
In order to create a really sustainable response, she added, “Criminals at sea must be stopped and held accountable, but proper attention must be made to the people who may become such criminals, the circumstances that lead them to it, and the people most affected.”
We must connect with marginalized and at-risk youth and seek community-based crime prevention measures in order to help them develop their social and interpersonal skills, curb dangerous behavior, and provide them with opportunities.
According to Ms. Waly, UNODC is helping the Nigerian Niger Delta region develop community-based crime prevention techniques that she hopes will be adopted by other coastal communities.