Efforts by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to tackle piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activity in the Gulf of Guinea received a major boost yesterday as Nigeria pledged US$100,000 to the West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund. Nigeria’s Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, who led Nigeria’s delegation to the ongoing IMO Council meeting in London, also pledged a further US$50,000 to IMO’s general Technical Cooperation Fund.
The IMO’s Strategy for implementing sustainable maritime security measures in West and Central Africa outlines IMO’s undertaken and programmed work to implement all of the key areas identified in the Code of Conduct concerning the repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships, and illicit maritime activity in west and central Africa, adopted formally in Yaoundé in June 2013 by Heads of State or their representatives from 25 West and Central African countries, including 13 Presidents, as well as implementation of the MoU developed by IMO and the Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa (MOWCA).
IMO’s initiatives take place within the wider context of United Nations Security Council resolutions 2018 (2011) and 2039 (2012); United Nations General Assembly resolutions including resolution 67/78 on Oceans and the law of the sea; the Zone of Peace and Cooperation in the South Atlantic; the maritime strategies of the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC).
The 28th session of the IMO Assembly in December 2013 unanimously adopted resolution A.1069(28) on Prevention and suppression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activity in the Gulf of Guinea.
The resolution, inter alia, appeals to States in the region, in close cooperation with international and regional organizations, to take all measures possible within the provisions of international law, to ensure that all acts or attempted acts of piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activities are terminated forthwith and any plans for committing such acts are also forthwith abandoned; and any hijacked ships, kidnapped seafarers held on them and any other persons on board such ships are immediately and unconditionally released and that no harm is caused to them.
The resolution also calls upon Governments to consider making financial contributions to the IMO West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund and in cooperation with the Organization and as may be requested by Governments of the region, to assist States in the Gulf of Guinea to develop their national and regional capabilities to improve maritime governance in waters under their jurisdiction; to prevent, within the provisions of international law, piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activities; and to assist States to build capacity to interdict and bring to justice those who commit crimes.
To date, the United Kingdom, China and Japan have contributed to the Trust Fund