UN Security Council calls for renewed focus on Gulf of Guinea piracy

The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a new security resolution on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. The resolution, passed last week, was meant to highlight once more the evolving piracy threat in the region. It said that this remained an issue almost a decade after the UNSC’s last resolution on the matter.

The UNSC stressed that it was the primary responsibility of the coastal states of the Gulf of Guinea to counter piracy and armed robbery at sea in the region, as well as address the underlying causes in cooperation with regional and international partners.

It also called on member states in the region to criminalize piracy and armed robbery at sea under their domestic laws. This would plug a significant gap in the legal systems of some coastal states. The resolution asked that states should cooperate on dealing with hostage taking and the prosecution of suspected pirates, and their transfer for trial in and out of the Gulf of Guinea.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Ghana and Norway. Ghana is currently serving a two-year stint at the UNSC, which began in January, and the security situation in the Gulf of Guinea is one of its primary priorities.

Harold Agyeman, Ghana’s ambassador to the United Nations, said that “piracy constitutes one of the foremost security concerns on the African continent. It risks compounding multifaceted challenges facing the region, including a surge in terrorism, a return of the coup d’états and the worsening impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

The overall maritime security picture in the Gulf of Guinea has improved in the last year, but the UN noted that onshore factors that drove piracy in the Gulf remained unchanged.

A study released in 2021 by Stable Seas estimated that pirates, specifically in the Niger Delta, earned $5m of direct income per year through theft and hostage taking.