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

High-ranking Togolese actors in the area of maritime security came together again in Lomé

The second of an organised series of seminars by the Max Planck Foundation concerning “Maritime Security and the Fight against Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea” took place from 16–19 December 2013 in Lomé, Togo, under the responsibility of Judge Helmut Türk of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Around 40 participants attended the seminar – including representatives of the Navy, the Gendamerie Maritime, the Harbour Administration in Lomé, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Ministry of Cooperation, members of the Judiciary and the Transport-worker’s Labour Union.

Once again, the seminar was very much welcomed by the Togolese Government. The Minister of Justice and the Minister of Security and Civil Protection were both present at the opening ceremony of the seminar. Both Minsters addressed the negative influence of piracy on Togolese and regional maritime trade in their speeches. It was stressed that increasing maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea was of the highest priority for Togo. The Minister of Justice was grateful for the support of the German Government concerning the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. He emphasised the importance of effective prosecution, as well as the training of the actors involved. The press also showed a high interest in the seminar.

The core areas of the seminar focused on describing effective dispute mechanisms in the international law of the sea through real-life cases decided by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. In addition Judge Türk explained in detail the definition of, and the fight against, piracy with reference to the relevant international conventions. Furthermore, the participants dealt with the different regional strategies for the fight against piracy which have recently been developed in the area by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Commission of the Gulf of Guinea (CGG) and the African Union. Next to that, the activities of the Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) were taken into account. The participants showed a high level of interest in group discussions with regard to disputes related to recent cases before the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea.