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"Now is the time to make real progress" with Gulf of Guinea security – Kitack Lim (IMO)

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Secretary-General, of the IMO, Kitack Lim

Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, has emphasized the importance of the security situation in the Gulf of Guinea, stating that “now is the time to make real progress. I call upon all stakeholders to display genuine commitment to confront these issues head on.”

Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) stated this at the annual meeting of the G7 Group of Friends of the Gulf of Guinea (G7++ FoGG), which focuses on dealing with illegal activities at sea in the Gulf of Guinea.

He reaffirmed that the IMO would continue to support training and other capacity-building activities for individual Gulf of Guinea states, as well as cooperative regional efforts.

Last week’s online event included discussions about how the Yaoundé Code of Conduct will work in the future. The primary goal of the Code is to manage and significantly reduce the negative consequences of piracy, armed robbery against ships, and other illegal maritime activities. It was created with IMO’s technical assistance and approved in 2013.

The role of civil society organizations in addressing the causes of piracy was highlighted, providing valuable insight into some of the region’s social, cultural, and economic challenges.

Speaking at the event, IMO’s Gisela Vieira emphasized that the organization is still working with Member States through virtual platforms, despite the fact that much of the in-field work has been halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IMO is fully committed to facilitating and supporting virtual meetings with the Inter-regional coordination center (ICC) to advance implementation and assess the need for revision of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct framework.

The FoGG was co-chaired by the United Kingdom and Senegal, and participants came from G7++ FoGG countries, including those in West and Central Africa, as well as international organizations and industry.

Opening remarks by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim

Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to start by thanking the United Kingdom and Senegal Co-Chairs of the G7++ [pronounced: G seven plus plus] Friends of the Gulf of Guinea for the kind invitation to open this very important meeting.

I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea for their continued endeavors. Your efforts have been critical to support the regional mechanisms of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct by improving coordination among all stakeholders, including civil and military agencies.

The security situation in the Gulf of Guinea remains at the top of IMO’s priorities. International shipping is suffering. Lives of seafarers remain in danger and Piracy is damaging the economy and trade of the region. This situation has continued for too long and these illegal acts must be stopped.  As stakeholders we must act now and take the actions necessary to confront these issues head on.

In this context, I was very encouraged by the launch of the Deep Blue Project on 10 June and would like to express my appreciation to the Nigeria Government and its Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and its commitment to the fight against piracy.

I am also grateful to all other coastal states in the region that have also made positive strides in the area of interagency cooperation and response and must also be commended for their efforts.

I was also encouraged by the announcement of the establishment the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum – SHADE, chaired by the Nigeria Navy and the Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC Yaoundé), aiming to facilitate shared awareness and de-conflict activities in the region by linking all relevant stakeholders to advance and coordinate maritime security activities.

Last month, IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) held significant discussions on the piracy in the Gulf of Guinea to provide an opportunity to Member States to discuss further collaboration and enhance support for international, regional and national efforts to tackle piracy. The Committee received a number of submissions highlighting the urgency of taking concrete actions to tackle the situation, and most important, to address the worrying threat to the life of our seafarers.

IMO adopted a resolution on recommended action to address piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea, which highlights the need for greater collaboration with all critical stakeholders, including information-sharing on maritime criminality and illegality, response coordination and governance options for protection solutions.

Member States also called for the formation of a Working Group to further discuss the need for collaboration and coordination of efforts, and you will receive further details on the deliberations of MSC and the Working Group tomorrow.

IMO continues to support training and other capacity-building activities for individual Gulf of Guinea states as well as cooperative regional efforts. At the request of ECCAS, ECOWAS and the Gulf of Guinea Commission, IMO continues to work with the ICC Yaoundé, supporting a series of regional expert level online meetings aiming to assess the implementation and sustainability of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and to provide recommendations to the three organizations.

Improving cooperative regional security by supporting African states in their implementation of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct is crucial to the African — and the global — economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Capacity building for maritime domain awareness, information sharing, operational support, and the enhancement of laws and legal infrastructure are key to the success of the Yaoundé architecture, and IMO remains committed to support all capacity building efforts.

 There is a lot of work ahead for all of us. The world is watching, and we must ensure that we succeed in our objective to enhance security in the Gulf of Guinea region.

IMO remains committed to support the Friends of the Gulf of Guinea to ensure the restoration of the safety of navigation.

I wish you a successful event.

Thank you

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