The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) operationalizes an MOU on Implementation of Joint Maritime patrols in Zone E

08-12-2021    The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) supported the conduct of a joint maritime patrol in the ECOWAS Zone E maritime domain from 22 to 24 November 2021 with funding from the Governments of Denmark, Norway and Portugal.   

Through this exercise, the MOU on Implementation of joint maritime patrols which was signed in 2018 by Togo, Benin, Nigeria, and Niger was operationalized.

As stated by Dr Amado Philip de Andrés, UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa: “Maritime criminals are not restricted by territorial and national boundaries and a multinational response is required to effectively counter them. Synergy amongst Gulf of Guinea nations is needed, including multinational joint patrols in order to present a seamless barrier across borders against piracy and other maritime crimes”.

The Representative of the ministry of defence of Benin, explained that the effective launch of the joint maritime patrol exercise is a three-year old dream that is being realized thanks to various partners. “It is a new step in the fight against maritime insecurity in Zone E considering that the Gulf of Guinea is one of the most dangerous maritime domains”, he added.

Prior to this exercise, UNODC provided sessions of capacity building and training to the various maritime law enforcement actors of the participating member states. As an outcome of the training, the law enforcement agents strengthened their knowledge on Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), Rules of Engagement (ROE) and on operational plans which they implemented during the exercise. For instance, the training enabled the Vessel Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) teams of the three countries to be able to operate together and facilitate future joint exercises and operations.

In addition, for the last three months, UNODC supported the Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) Zone E to hold three virtual and in-person planning events in preparation for the exercise. Other international partners such as the European Maritime Safety Agency’s (EMSA) Copernicus System, TMT, FCWC and YARIS were also engaged to support the joint exercise.