More than 120 participants from over 40 Countries, regional organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations and companies met in Rome on 26 and 27 June 2017 under the Italian Presidency of the G7 to discuss the security conditions of navigating in the Gulf of Guinea, where ships are often attacked by pirates and which is involved in maritime crimes such as drug and human trafficking, illegal fishing and indiscriminate pollution.
The meeting of the G7 Friends of the Gulf of Guinea Group (G7++FOGG), which opened with remarks by Deputy Foreign Minister Mario Giro, marked an important step forward in the regional States’ growing awareness of the economic, social and political value of the ocean and of their respective responsibility in assuring its long-term security and stability.
The closing session was attended by the Ministers of Defence of Congo and Nigeria, testifying to the importance of the meeting and to the utmost political commitment of the Countries of the region. During the session, the Italian Undersecretary of State for Defence, Domenico Rossi, reaffirmed Italy’s commitment to side with the Countries in the region to assure conditions of stability throughout the area.
The G7 Friends of the Gulf of Guinea G7++ Group constitutes a crucial means of underpinning Africa’s architecture of peace and security by making available to all the Nations of the region the technical and financial contribution of international donors in order to build the capacity of national public administrations in all sectors involving the management of the ocean: from coast guards and sharing information on maritime traffic, to the reform of the judicial and investigation system.
“The aim of this exercise – said Deputy Foreign Minister Mario Giro – consists in reinforcing the institutionalisation of maritime governance, while at the same time making sure that security and development issues are incorporated in a single strategic framework, capable of holistically tackling threats and challenges on land and sea.”
Closer coordination among all the parties involved, at national, regional and international level, is instrumental to achieving this goal. The aim is to further develop the network that African Countries have established through regional economic organisations (ECOWAS, ECCAS and GGC) and that now need to be adequately financed and equipped with technology and know-how.
Important proof of the ever-increasing involvement of the African partners in building the region’s maritime security was represented by the decision to hold the Group’s second annual meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, in December 2017 and assigning the Co-Presidency for 2018 to the Ivory Coast. In particular, the Co-Presidency between a Donor Country and an African Country represents an important sign of leadership and a clear message to criminal groups operating in the region that our joint efforts will continue and become increasingly stronger.