Maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea: establishing law, generating order

Maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea: establishing law, generating order

Maritime security has become a buzzword in recent years as criminal activities at sea threaten a wide range of geostrategic, security and economic imperatives. In few other places in the world is this problem more pointed than in the Gulf of Guinea on Africa’s western coast. While countries in the region are receptive to mechanisms promoting co-operation in tackling maritime insecurity, problems are posed by inadequate information around the nature and extent of maritime crime, as well as a dearth of legal instruments to address this activity. This presents an important challenge to evidence-based policymaking, and prevents capacity-constrained countries from using their resources in the most effective way. The impending AU summit on maritime security and safety to be convened in October 2016 in Lomé, Togo, however, provides a unique opportunity to address these obstacles.
 
Recommendations:
  • policymakers at Lomé should legally define the range of maritime crimes in their waters, and subsequently require the criminalisation of these incidents through the development of appropriate national legislation
  • the reporting of all incidents should be required of shippers under the charter, so that better data may be available on the extent and nature of maritime crime. This may necessitate an undertaking from states to ease the burden implied by reporting, through swift evidence collection and modern means of involvement, such as testifying via video link
  • a more detailed template for reporting should be adopted by the IMB/IMO and reporting bodies at regional and national level. This will improve capacity for generating data that is accurate and statistically significant, in turn allowing for evidence-based policymaking
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