Ambassador Richard Mills is the Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations in New York City, New York, USA. In remarks to a UN Security Council Briefing on the Gulf of Guinea on Tuesday, Ambassador Mills discussed Maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, which he said is essential to maintaining “an Atlantic Ocean that provides for the safety and prosperity of Atlantic nations and those who depend on its waters for their livelihood.”
He said that “the United States is committed to the international navigation, security, and sustainable development of the Gulf of Guinea and countries in the region, and indeed the entire Atlantic Ocean basin.”
“The United States reaffirms its commitment to assisting States in the region to counter piracy and armed robbery at sea and in holding perpetrators, facilitators, and key figures of criminal networks accountable, as well as in addressing other related destabilizing and illicit activities in the Gulf of Guinea,” said Mills.
Mills added, “We concur, with our briefers, that through the collaborative efforts of many nations, including through piracy convictions in Nigeria and Togo and the leadership of the Nigerian Navy, the frequency of such incidents has dramatically decreased. However, we note that less than one third of the Gulf of Guinea countries have enacted legislation to criminalize piracy as set out in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“We cannot let down our guard against all threats to maritime security. Challenges such as piracy; the illegal, unreported, and unregulated engagement in fishing; transnational organized crime; climate change; and environmental degradation pose a threat to livelihoods, as we have heard.
“Maritime drug trafficking, for example, has far-reaching and devastating consequences on the citizens of Atlantic Ocean and beyond. We take note from the Secretary-General’s report that pirate groups have also shifted activity and are now operating in West and Central Africa.
“The United States has pledged to increase our collaboration and coordination with nations across the Atlantic, as we all share similar concerns about our shared resource. Our naval forces in Africa conduct training and exercises throughout the Gulf of Guinea with our African partners, but also counterparts with from Brazil, Portugal, and other allies.
“Increasingly, we see climate resilience and sustainable economies as important elements of maritime security. So, we remain committed to working with our African partners to address climate change, food insecurity, and other factors that are further fueling recruitment by criminal, piracy, and terrorist groups alike. Toward that end, we commend the actions of Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo, with the assistance of UNODC, to develop Harmonized Standard Operating Procedures on matters such as evidence collection at sea and chain of custody.
“The United States also commends the effort of regional and sub-regional organizations, namely the AU, ECCAS, ECOWAS, the Gulf of Guinea Commission, and their partners, in their coordination to enhance cooperation on maritime security and to further operationalize the Yaounde architecture.
“The United States welcomes the progress made by States bordering the Gulf of Guinea in their implementation of the Yaounde Maritime Security Architecture and welcomes further effort to support the Architecture as it nears its 10th anniversary.
“Finally, Mr. President, we are active members of the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea, serving as co-chair in 2020. We commend the work of current co-chairs, Cote d’Ivoire and Germany, and we look forward to the G7++ Friends of the Gulf plenary to be held December 1-2 in Abidjan.”