New Maritime Report Tracks Links Between Crime, Coastal Development, and Violence in the Gulf of Guinea

stable seas report examines maritime violence in the gulf of guinea
Between 2006 and 2008 the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta kidnapped oil workers and attacked oil production facilities in the Niger Delta. Photo: David Clark, AFP, Getty Images.

A new Stable Seas report explores the connections between crime and insecurity in the maritime domain, and insecurity and instability onshore in the Gulf of Guinea region. Through interviews conducted with experts and practitioners in seven countries across the region, the report examines nine themes of maritime governance and security and how they impact coastal communities and landlocked neighbors throughout the region. These themes are: international cooperation, maritime enforcement capability, rule of law, blue economy, coastal welfare, fisheries, piracy and armed robbery at sea, illicit trades, and maritime mixed migration.

The Gulf of Guinea region represents one of the most complex maritime security environments in the world. With practically boundless potential for development of the blue economy through established production of hydrocarbons and newly discovered offshore deposits, the region’s centrality to vital global shipping routes, and the diversity of regional fish stocks, these assets are attractive to licit and criminal elements alike. The region’s underdeveloped maritime law enforcement capability and legislation, along with inadequate policy implementation have resulted in corruption, weakened rule of law, and political instability. These issues, in turn, give rise to activities like illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, piracy and armed robbery at sea, human trafficking, and illicit trades in drugs, arms, and wildlife. 

The multitude of maritime security threats led Gulf of Guinea countries to establish and implement the regionally-led Yaoundé Code of Conduct aimed at combating a variety of maritime threats and establishing an architecture by which countries can share information and collaborate to end insecurity in their collective maritime domain. The Yaoundé Code has undeniably yielded progress, but much more is needed to fully eliminate threats in this critical region. 

Read the full Stable Seas: Gulf of Guinea report

For more on maritime security issues in Africa and Asia, check out the Sea Seas Maritime Security Index