Gulf Of Guinea Declaration

On September 17, the Black Sea Law Company joined the signing of the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on the Suppression of Piracy.

The problem of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has been growing over the last decade. Cases of piracy and violence continue to be the focus of the maritime industry in 2021. More than 200 nautical miles from pirate bases, mostly located in the Niger Delta, are the largest number of attacks on seafarers.

In a report published 9 June 2021, the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) provides an interesting view into the piracy problem (view report). The situation in the Gulf of Guinea is becoming more acute every year, and this report provides analytical information on all cases of piracy, including the increase in territory and number. Despite efforts by coastal countries, including Nigeria, as well as by external actors, the Gulf of Guinea remains one of the most dangerous maritime areas in the world, with acts of piracy now extending from the Ivory Coast to Congo-Brazzaville. Twenty-five successful piracy attacks resulted in 142 kidnapped seafarers in 2020.

BIMCO is the world’s largest international shipping association, with around 1,900 members in more than 120 countries (59% of the world’s tonnage) encourages the shipping industry to cooperate to suppress piracy. In response to growing concerns and increasing attacks in the region, a task force of stakeholders from across the shipping industry drafted the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on the Suppression of Piracy.

More than 400 signatories, including flag state administrations, ship owners, charterers, and shipping associations, supported the piracy problem in the Gulf of Guinea. The List of signatories of the Gulf of Guinea Declaration is on the BIMCO website.

We are pleased to join the Declaration, and we are grateful to BIMCO and the Shipping Industry for their support. Our Company is always in a position to provide any possible legal assistance in protecting Seafarers, Shipowners, and Charterers from any possible risks of being subjected to pirate attacks.

We hope that the cooperation of associations, companies, and international organizations, as well as joint efforts, will be useful in achieving the goals and ensuring safety in the Gulf of Guinea.

We recognise the important steps taken and positive initiatives underway by coastal States in the region. We call on all stakeholders eg coastal and flag States, shipowners, charterers, maritime organizations, importers and exporters, oil, and mining companies, offshore operators, fishers, supranational organizations, labour unions, and NGOs, to sign this pledge and join together in a coalition to end the threat of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea through:

  • Tangibly supporting antipiracy law enforcement (as mandated by international law including international treaties, eg the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) by non-regional naval forces providing a capable incident response capability to complement regional coastal States’ antipiracy law enforcement operations;
  • Enhancing regional capacity building with priority given to those coastal States which demonstrate the will to participate actively in law enforcement at sea;
  • Encouraging non-regional navies to work actively together with each other and the Gulf of Guinea coastal States’ antipiracy law enforcement forces and agencies to suppress the pirate threat;
  • Supporting the deployment of law enforcement staff from regional coastal States on non-regional navy ships for capacity building purposes and to assist in the arrest and prosecution of pirates;
  • Facilitating the implementation of effective shipboard defensive measures within the region, including via the BMP West Africa guidance and through other onboard active and passive protective measures;
  • Improving domain awareness (eg via radars on offshore platforms) and sharing of relevant information between antipiracy law enforcement forces and agencies;
    – Increasing effective law enforcement activity ashore to disrupt the underlying criminal enterprises where they are based;
    – Providing prison facilities for arrested pirates (ideally in the region), and encouraging coastal States in the Gulf of Guinea to actively prosecute;
    – Working towards improving the transparency between law enforcement agencies, military forces, and protection services; and
    – Actively conveying the messages above to relevant stakeholders.

We firmly believe that piracy and attempts at kidnapping are preventable; as a minimum, we need to see, by the end of 2023, that:

– The number of attacks by pirates should be reduced from current levels by at least 80%; and
– No seafarers should have been kidnapped from a ship in the preceding 12-month period.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News

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