This week OBP would like to shift your attention to the west coast of Africa and discuss piracy in the Gulf of Guinea region. Recently receiving more international attention due to the high level of attacks, the waters off the coast of West Africa are some of the most dangerous in the world to transit.
While often discussed in the same vein, Somali-piracy and West African piracy are very different in terms of their roots, the business model utilized and the capacity of the regional nations to address the threat. These differences have had a great impact on the approaches used to combat piracy; the Somali-piracy crisis has been mitigated by the international community while regional nations are currently leading efforts to combat piracy off the coast of West Africa, with support from the international community.
As incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea have risen regional nations have increased their commitment to combatting the threat in the region through the formation of regional agreements and a pledge to enhance capacities. One such regional agreement is the, “Code of Conduct concerning the prevention of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activity in west and central Africa,” which was signed at the Heads of State Summit in Yaounde, Cameroon in June 2013. The Code of Conduct incorporates many elements of its east coast counter-part, the Djibouti Code of Conduct, and focuses on topics such as information-sharing, deterring piracy and other illicit maritime activities, and issues of prosecution, including encouraging signatories to pass relevant national legislation. A key element of the recently signed Code of Conduct is the protection of national sovereignty of the signatory states, once again signaling that regional nations will lead efforts to combat piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
OBP is concerned about the level of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea region and the risk this poses for seafarers working on vessels in the region. OBP supports both the regional and international efforts being made to combat piracy in the region and acknowledges that combatting piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea will require a coordinated and multi-stakeholder response to address both immediate risks faced by seafarers and provide a comprehensive strategy to address the root causes.