Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

24 June 2013

West Africa: Gulf Of Guinea Security Diagnosis Ready

Photo: EUNAVFOR
Suspected Somali pirates

The Heads of State of the Economic Community of Central African States, ECCAS, Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS and the Gulf of Guinea Commission will begin the summit on maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea in Yaounde today, June 24, 2013 with signs of hope that insecurity is not a fatality in the area.

Maritime security experts, military officials and university lecturers during the International Symposium on "Security Challenges in the Gulf of Guinea" at the Ministry of External Relations on June 21, 2013, diagnosed the security challenges of the area and recommended ways of tackling the upsurge of the insecurity scourge. The symposium organized under the auspices of Cameroon's Head of State, Paul Biya, was aimed at serving the Heads of State during today's summit with a document on the state of insecurity in the area and the way out in order to guide them in their work.

The Minister of External Relations, Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo, the general coordinator of the symposium expressed satisfaction at recommendations which hinged on the fact that insecurity is not a fatality in the Gulf of Guinea. The insecurity situation could be tackled through integrated strategies by member countries of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, which must take into consideration the development needs of the local population.

Recommendations

The recommendations that will be presented to the Heads of State hinge on the fact that decisions taken at the Yaounde summit should immediately be implemented. In specific terms, the experts recommended development projects at national and regional levels to benefit the local population who do not gain much from the exploited natural resources, inclusion of taxes in the budgets of the member countries to raise funds with which to support the securing of the maritime space of the region, adoption and harmonization of combat judicial frameworks and strengthening of the means provided to all administrations involved in maritime activities and coordination of existing structures.

They also recommended an increase in assistance from partners in money and equipment. They proposed a better synergy in managing the assistance as well as the sharing of information by member States on the identification of ships from a distance. Each member State of the Gulf of Guinea Commission would also have to adopt maritime legislation to enable the States arrest and judge criminals, as well as negotiate agreements for their expulsion.

The recommendations were the culmination of a day-long symposium organized in two panels. Professor Joseph Vincent Ntuda Ebode of the University of Yaounde II, Soa in the inaugural presentation of the general theme, presented the security situation in the Gulf of Guinea, trends in piracy, consequences, challenges and expectations. This paved the way to presentations on the first panel on the theme, "Maritime Space of the Gulf of Guinea as Insecurity Zone." In the second panel presentations were on the theme, "Maritime Insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea: Actions and prospects."

Countries of the Gulf of Guinea Commission can continuously count on the support of partner organizations and countries whose representatives participated in the symposium. The United Nations Organisation that recommended the holding of a security summit to tackle security issues in the Gulf of Guinea has reiterated its support. The Yaounde summit, "Will remain an important milestone in the new security architect of the Region and I can assure you that the United Nations remains committed to support this process and to contribute to the achievements of its objectives," Najat Rochdi, the Resident Coordinator of the UN Systems in Cameroon said as she addressed the symposium participants.

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