Statement at the UNSC Briefing on Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea
Statement22 November 2022
Thank you, President,
And let me also extend our thanks to our briefers for their very insightful inputs this morning, and to the Secretary-General for the Report. It’s rare that we meet to welcome positive developments as a Security Council and we very much welcome that and the decrease in instances of piracy and robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea.
Ireland commends the ongoing work of the coastal states of the Gulf of Guinea, the penholders of Resolution 2634, Ghana and Norway, and the African Union and key partners, including the European Union, who have taken effective steps to address the issue of piracy and maritime security.
The success of the ongoing regional and multinational efforts towards suppressing maritime crime is underpinned by a series of factors, including the positive impact of piracy convictions and the deterrent effects of increased naval patrols.
This is coupled with improved cooperation through the Yaoundé Architecture, which has optimized maritime cooperation across the Gulf of Guinea.
In addition, the EU continues to support regional efforts to address the many challenges of maritime security, including through ensuring the implementation of an EU Strategy and Action Plan, which contributes to the strengthening of the capacity of coastal states in the region.
A common response to the threat of piracy and armed robbery at sea is the hiring of private military and security companies to provide maritime security. This elevates the risk of human rights violations.
Ireland stresses that while suppressing the menace of piracy is an important priority, it must be done in accordance with international law, including international human rights law.
Now is the time to keep up the momentum and build on the gains made.
Ireland encourages increased cooperation and coordination between initiatives at national, regional, and international levels to continue to address maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.
However, the long-term success of the various initiatives in turning the tide is not guaranteed, nor are the gains of last year’s sustainable, without addressing the underlying causes of piracy and armed robbery.
The Secretary-General’s Report notes that the drivers of piracy activity are complex, often impacted by evolving dynamics on land. They include multidimensional factors such as widespread poverty, high unemployment, inadequate access to public services, security threats, legal and jurisdictional deficiencies and corruption.
Climate change and other environmental threats are also significant factors. Indeed, their links with security, including maritime security are increasingly evident. In this context, all too often, criminal activities, including maritime piracy and armed robbery at sea, are perceived as a means of survival.
Our response to these drivers must also be multidimensional. It is only by adopting a comprehensive, holistic, and inclusive solution to the underlying causes that we can sustainably address the problem.
Ireland stresses that these solutions must address the socio-economic challenges of the region, create economic opportunity, including for women, and the youth of coastal communities, and it should include the full implementation of the SDGs.
Ireland wishes to reaffirm that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out. This includes countering piracy and armed robbery at sea.
UNCLOS requires all States to cooperate to the fullest extent possible in the repression of piracy. It is clear that some States are falling short in this regard, thereby hindering the effective suppression of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. In particular, it is regrettable that less than one third of the Gulf of Guinea countries have enacted legislation that criminalises piracy to the full extent set out in UNCLOS.
Ensuring full respect for UNCLOS is critical, as it lays down rules for the mutual benefit of all states. The free and peaceful use of the seas and oceans is vital for us all.