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By Godfrey Olukya    18-3-2013

25 ministers in charge of foreign affairs, defence and Security from West African countries under ECOWAS and their counterparts from Economic Community of Central Africa states (ECCAS) will meet tomorrow in Benin Republic capital, Cotonou in an Inter-ministerial conference to discuss maritime security in Gulf of Guinea.

Members of ECOWAS include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote de Ivoire,  Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

A statement  released by the meeting organizers indicated that the meeting  will be preceded by the technical meeting of experts of the UN Offices for West and Central Africa , the Gulf of Guinea Commission, International Maritime Organization, Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa  and the African Union (AU).

The Gulf of Guinea Commission comprises Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Sao Tomé and Principe, while ECCAS is made up of Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tomé and Principe and Chad.

The Africa Centre for Strategic Studies and the Institute for Security Studies will also be represented at the conference which will consider several documents, including an ECCAS/ECOWAS Political Declaration on illegal maritime activities in the Gulf of Guinea, for adoption by a Summit of Heads of State of the two regions.

Both communities started collaborative effortsin 2011 aimed at developing a joint maritime security strategy to counter emerging and interlinked threats to safety and security at sea.

This followed the adoption by the UN Security Council of Resolutions 2018 and 2039, urging countries in West and Central Africa to take urgent steps to check piracy and armed attacks at sea on national and international levels.

The previous meetings also led to the preparation of mutually enforceable texts which will be submitted to the multilateral platform for validation.

 

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