Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the Role of African Regional Organisations in Ensuring Security of Maritime Shipping


Alexander Zhambikov


The first decade of the XXI century witnessed a rise in piracy in some regions of the world, including the Gulf of Guinea. The purposes of this article are to find out historical reasons of the emergence of piracy in off the West coast of Africa and to analyse the participation of African regional organisations in the struggle for ensuring security of maritime shipping in the Gulf of Guinea. The initial surge in incidence of attacks against merchant ships was caused by anti-governmental groups, which adopted pirate tactics. Later, piracy off the shores of Central and West Africa turned into a profitable type of organised crime. Pirates of the Gulf of Guinea inflicted significant damage to economic development of the countries of the region and began to pose a threat to shipping off the West African shore of the Atlantic. The article describes how interregional cooperation with external partnership was organised to counter transborder nature of pirate activities. Based on regional organisations, specifically, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the maritime security summit held on June 24–25, 2013 in Yaoundé adopted the Code of Conduct, which contained a list of measures to combat piracy. The Code of Conduct envisaged close cooperation among the nations of Central and West Africa with help of “external” partners in order to ensure rapid reaction to counter pirate attacks. Research of the problem indicates that only consecutive realisation of these measures allowed to reach a tangible result almost 10 years later, namely, in 2022. Nevertheless, if control over waters of the Gulf of Guinea is weakened, piracy may resurge, because its social and economic roots still exist.


piracy, maritime security, Gulf of Guinea, new challenges and threats, ECOWAS, ECCAS




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