September 28, 2021

Security Council Open Debate – 26 April 2016

Statement delivered by the Deputy Permanent Representative Mr. Menelaos Menelaou

Peace consolidation in West Africa: Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea in the Gulf of Guinea

Thank you Mr. President.

Cyprus aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union and wishes to add the following in its national capacity. At the outset, we wish to commend the Chinese Presidency of the Security Council as well as Angola and Senegal for their initiative to organize this open debate on piracy and armed robbery with a particular focus on the Gulf of Guinea, one of the regions that are most affected by this threat.

Cyprus is a maritime nation with a ship registry ranking tenth among international fleets – with 1,857 ocean-going vessels of a gross tonnage exceeding 21 million. It is a major ship-management center with a total of around 60 ship-management companies operating on its territory, employing almost 40.000 seafarers. Several of these companies rank among the largest in the world. Cyprus appears amongst the top five countries and territories in the world with the largest number of third party ship-management companies. The share of the fleet managed from Cyprus represents 20% of the world’s third–party ship-management market. As is evident from the above, the issue of maritime security is of vital importance to my country.

Cyprus has been a member of the International Maritime Organization since 1973 and a member of its Council since 1987. We have always been a keen supporter of the IMO as the principal international regulatory body on matters of maritime safety and security and the protection of the marine environment. Cyprus has ratified almost all International Conventions on maritime safety and security, the protection of the marine environment and relevant legal matters: the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the UN Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (SUA), the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the 1979 Hostages Convention.

Mr. President,

In the context of contributing to the call included in the concept note for sharing experience and best practices in order to strengthen capacity building at the national level in the region of Western Africa and the Gulf of Guinea, let me refer to the following from our own perspective.

At the national level, the effort against piracy and armed robbery is regulated by the ‘The Protection of Cyprus Ships against Acts of Piracy and Other Unlawful Acts Law’, which includes Western Africa and the Gulf of Guinea among the high-risk areas. Pursuant to the Law, the competent Minister may, and has the power to, prohibit the passage of ships through risk areas. The master of the ship and the ship’s operator have the obligation, when the ship is in a risk area, to implement additional measures and use every means for ensuring and maintaining the security of the ship and for preventing unlawful acts which may jeopardize the security of the ship, or the physical integrity of the personnel or their lives, or may lead to the kidnapping or the hostage-taking of persons on board the ship.

Mr. President,

Attacks in the Gulf of Guinea are at a high level, and pirates’ modus operandi is the kidnapping of crew-members and removing them to shore for the purposes of ransom.  Self-protection measures are applied by ships and their crews, but these are limited in effectiveness without enforced regional and international cooperation in the direction of law enforcement and preventive measures.

In this regard, the Yaoundé process needs to be unwaveringly implemented and reinforced.  Only a lasting regional solution will eradicate maritime insecurity in the region. This necessitates international and regional focus on the process.

A renewed UN focus on the issue of maritime crime in the region, possibly in the form of a new Security Council resolution, would be of significant help in facilitating these developments.

In concluding, Mr President, let me say that Cyprus applauds and endorses all initiatives undertaken in combating piracy and armed robbery at sea in the context of the United Nations and remains committed to enhanced cooperation and synergies at the international and regional levels, in particular through cooperation with the African Union, the ECOWAS, ECCAS and the Gulf of Guinea Commission. Last but not least, we fully recognize the nexus between maritime security and the need to promote economic development, eliminate poverty and support the regional coordination mechanisms logistically and financially to respond to the challenges faced. There can be no security, stability and peace without development, equality and justice in all respects.

Thank you Mr. President.