UN urges tough legal action against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea

After the high number of incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea during the first half of 2013 together with increased piracy related violence, the UN said that it is “deeply concerned” about the situation, which it considers is a threat to international navigation as well as to the security and economic development of the States in the region.

The UN Security Council therefore welcomed the approval by regional leaders of a “Code of Conduct concerning the Prevention and Repression of Piracy, Armed Robbery against Ships, and Illegal Maritime Activities in West and Central Africa’, which aims to pave the way to a binding legal agreement. The UN body encouraged all States in the region to sign and implement the Code as soon as possible.

The UN also called for existing laws to be clarified and toughened so that those who commit piracy are effectively pursued, detained, prosecuted and, where applicable, jailed.

In addition to calling for the use of international law, the Security Council also called on the States in the region to adopt complementary national measures to combat these types of attacks, with legislation that defines and criminalises the offences and provides for the pursuit and prosecution of those caught at sea who commit acts of piracy.

In addition to pursuing the main suspects the UN urged the States to investigate and prosecute anyone who incited or intentionally facilitates such crimes, including key figures of criminal networks involved in piracy who illicitly plan, organise, facilitate or finance and profit from such attacks. In order to do so there should be no hesitancy in asking the private sector to assist with the provision of proof or information.

The UN also highlighted the importance of reinforcing cooperation between States and the organisations that operate in the region in order to develop a global strategy for the fight against the threat, and recommended working with a comprehensive focus on the problem, given that piracy is linked to cross-border organised crime and a number of criminal activities such a drug trafficking.

The members of the Security Council therefore welcomed the decision to establish a regional coordination centre, with its headquarters in Cameroon, which will be responsible for coordinating the regional strategy for maritime safety and security, as set out in the Code of Conduct.

This would mean regional wide mechanisms would be applied to the whole of the Gulf of Guinea, and the International Maritime Organisation would also be involved in their application.