Cameroon Hosts 25 Leaders for Gulf of Guinea Summit


African Leaders at the summit pose for the press

African Leaders at the summit pose for the press

Twenty-five (25) West African and Central African heads of State were in Yaoundé, Cameroon for the summit on Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea from 24-25 June 2013. The Yaoundé Gulf of Guinea summit was one of the most important ever held in Africa. It was organized with the support of the United Nations and the African Union and attended by member countries of the Economic
Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Commission of the Gulf of Guinea (CGG), among other international partners.

President Paul Biya Welcomes Heads of States and Government

The main challenge of the Yaoundé Summit therefore was to provide a coordinated regional and international response to the scourges of piracy, drug trafficking, armed robbery and other illegal maritime activities in the Gulf of Guinea.

Opening the event, the Head of States H.E President Paul Biya wished everyone a warm welcome and a pleasant stay on Cameroonian soil on behalf of the people of Cameroon.

H.E President Paul Biya’s Welcome Speech

The Head of State the expressed his sincere gratitude to the Secretariat General of the United Nations, the African Union Commission, the Secretariat General of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, and the Executive Secretariat of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), for their invaluable support in organizing this summit.

President Biya added that “Maritime piracy poses a serious threat to the peace and stability of our States. It undermines the people’s development and wellbeing”. He also insinuated that our countries cannot progress if somehow our waters became too dangerous for the free movement of people and goods…that our towns cannot be safe if pirates flood them with drugs and weapons and that we cannot navigate the Gulf of Guinea waters in constant fear of being killed or taken hostage. To all the above, the president said it was unacceptable, for the Gulf of Guinea to cease being a safe bosom on Africa’s shapely and curvy body, to become a hellhole.

H.E Paul Biya then clearly stated that “Our response must be firm if we must avert a decline in the volume of goods that transit through our maritime space and if we do not want to jeopardize our development and global balance”. He added that “Failing to respond would be tantamount to accepting that at some point, there would be no more maritime travel”.

It should be noted that, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), 966 sailors were attacked with 5 of 206 hostages killed in West Africa in 2012, compared with 851 off the Somali coast in the Gulf of Aden, which according to international media reports is notorious for piracy activities. The report adds that in the first quarter of 2013, the Gulf of Guinea, which hosts large-scale oil industry operations on the West African coast, was the scene of 15 incidents with countries such as Nigeria and Cote D’ivoire affected.

The 25 leaders who gathered in Yaoundé were to review and adopt a series of measures that were previously reviewed earlier at the March 2013 inter-ministerial conference held in Cotonou (Republic of Benin). In Cotonou, the ministers for Security, Foreign Affairs and Defence from the 25 West African and Central African States produced a Memorandum of Understanding on maritime security in these two African regions and approved a draft Code of Conduct designed to prevent and combat piracy, armed robbery and illegal activities committed against ships.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), 966 sailors were attacked with 5 of 206 hostages killed in West Africa in 2012, compared with 851 off the Somali coast in the Gulf of Aden…reportedly notorious for piracy activities.

In the first quarter of 2013, the Gulf of Guinea, which hosts large-scale oil industry operations on the West African coast, was the scene of 15 incidents with Nigeria and Cote D’ivoire affected.

The Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon also sent a message delivered by Mr. Abou Moussa, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa. He thanked His Excellency President Paul Biya, as well as the Government and people of Cameroon, for hosting this Summit of Gulf of Guinea Heads of State and Governments.

He also added that on 30 October 2011, the United Nations Security Council issued a resolution calling on countries of the Gulf of Guinea to develop a comprehensive response to piracy and armed robbery at sea. By organizing this summit, therefore member states had met this challenge head-on.

The summit ended on the 25th of June 2013.

See Photo Gallery of the summit 

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