Key Recommendations to Stimulate a new Dynamism at the Interregional Coordination Centre

Approval of the evaluation process of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and the maritime safety and security architecture of the Gulf of Guinea to mark the 10th anniversary of the said process. This was one of the recommendations of the 4th annual meeting of the heads of institutions of the Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC) held on 18 April 2024 at the headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission in Abuja, Nigeria.

The meeting, which was preceded by a meeting of experts held on 16 and 17 April 2024, was an opportunity for participants to take stock of the ICC’s operations and examine the prospects for its revitalisation. At the organizational level, the participants noted a low level of implementation of the activities planned in the ICC’s four-year action plan, due to the inadequate financial contributions of the ICC’s Member States and Institutions.

Mindful of this reality, they adopted the Centre’s 2024 budget, which includes concrete activities and the financing of current statutory appointees, in order to breathe new life into the Centre. To this end, they reiterated their determination to initiate discussions with Member States to mobilise their contributions on time, which are essential to the smooth running of the Centre. To address the financial challenge facing the Centre, participants renewed their commitment to ensuring that their respective institutions fully play their part in the current process of revitalising the ICC.

To ensure that this process runs smoothly, they pledged to fill the vacant positions to guarantee the proper functioning of the Centre. They therefore agreed to rotate the positions allocated to the three institutions that make up the ICC, namely ECOWAS, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Gulf of Guinea.

They also agreed to take appropriate steps to recruit competent senior staff to these positions and to ensure that they assume duty within the required timeframe.

At the end of the meeting, participants conferred the rotating chairmanship of the Annual Meeting of Senior Officials of the ICC on the President of the ECCAS Commission, Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimo.

Taking over the reins of the rotating presidency from his counterpart at the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray, the President of the Ceeac Commission expressed his satisfaction with the outcomes of the Abuja meeting. “I have no shadow of doubt that our combined efforts will guarantee the attainment of the set objectives, albeit these are largely dependent on the financial and material resources associated with them”, Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimo stated.

Achieving these objectives, he said, will ensure the continued existence of the ICC, and give States and organisations the satisfaction of having provided a solution or the beginning of a lasting solution to the phenomenon of maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea.

In his opening remarks, the outgoing Chairman of the Annual Meeting of Senior Officials of the ICC, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray, praised the institutional actions, collective responses and individual contributions of the ICC Member States that have led to the decline in piracy and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea.  “According to the International Maritime Bureau, incidents of piracy and armed robbery, both actual and attempted, have shown a downward trend, from 31 in 2015 to 18 in 2021 and 15 in 2022.  The incidence of piracy and armed robbery has decreased further to 6 attacks in the first quarter of 2024 in the Gulf of Guinea”, remarked Dr Omar Alieu Touray.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

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