Maritime Security and the Fight Against Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea – Third Seminar in Lomé, Togo

The seminar series on maritime security in Togo came to a successful conclusion

From 1720 March 2014, the Max Planck Foundation held the third and final seminar of its series on “Maritime Security and the Fight against Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea” in Lomé, Togo. The seminar was headed by Prof. Alain Piquemal, a noted maritime law expert and Dean of the Faculty of International and European Law at the University of Nice-Sophia-Antipolis. Two local guest experts – Dr. Efoé Koffi Kini from the University of Lomé and Prof. Fréderic Joël Aivo from the law faculty of the University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin – also contributed significantly to the seminar.

The third seminar on combating piracy was once again expressly welcomed and supported by the Togolese Government. In the course of his opening speech, the Minister of Security and Civil Defence, Col. Damehame Yark, stressed the special value of the practical approach and the interactive character of the seminars. Ministre-Conseiller of the President, Mr. Baba, emphasised that Togo has an urgent need for legal assistance in the field of maritime law.

The initial thematic focus of the seminar was directed towards the United Nations Resolutions as well as the European Union’s mission in combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the resulting suggestions and consequences for the region of the Gulf of Guinea. As a second topical focus, the experts presented a comparative analysis of the relevant national legislation of several States. Dr. Kini illustrated the legal situation in Togo, specifically highlighting its need of reform. Prof. Aivo presented the legislation of Benin, where a 2011 reform criminalised piracy but failed to reach the desired level of precision. Discussions occurred with respect to further cooperation between Benin and Togo and the future improvement of such cooperation through the development of a regional strategy. Prof. Piquemal then explained the legal situations in France and Belgium – of special interest to the participants were the expansive competences of French naval commanders in capturing piracy suspects as well as the possibility of using private security companies as is allowed in Belgium.

On the last day of the seminar, and in the presence of a representative of the German Embassy, all 31 participants ceremoniously received a certificate of participation for the seminar series.