UNODC Regional Representative attends the AU 1st Extraordinary Summit on Maritime Security 

Maritime security and safety in Africa is a real problem given the increase in maritime crimes in the waters of the continent. Thus, the African Union in partnership with UNODC, held its first Extraordinary Summit in Togo from 10 to 15 October 2016 on Maritime Security and Safety, and Development in Africa. As the sea constitutes an important aspect of development, the summit was dedicated to address several issues related to maritime insecurity as well as all kinds of illicit trafficking at sea.


The Officer-in-Charge of the Program in the Fight against Maritime Crime at the UNODC Regional Office in Dakar, Mr. Francesco Giuseppe Emiliano Sernia, gave a speech at the seminar on Tuesday, October 12, 2016, where an analysis had to be made on "the fight against maritime piracy and other traffic." As the moderator of the session, he discussed the phenomenon of "illicit Trafficking by sea."

                                                                  Picture with all the participants during the Summit  

Mr. Pierre LAPAQUE, also representative of the UNODC Regional Office for West and Central Africa, was the moderator of the session on Friday morning on "Maritime governance and exchange on judicial and police matters". Mr. Lapaque then gave a speech, in which he applauded the progress of some African countries regarding the legal reform in the fight against maritime crime. Thus, taking the Seychelles as example, "The work in certain regions or even some countries can and should be an example to others, if proven effective. In the Seychelles, for example, the will of the government with the support of the European Union and UNODC, has enabled the creation of a Criminal Prosecution Centre of Maritime Piracy, which is exemplary and could serve as a paradigm, not only in Africa but around the world.  Although there is not only piracy that is regarded as a maritime crime; how to deal with this crime certainly provides the opportunity to experiment with legal solutions nationally and internationally. "

Mr. Lapaque also addressed the issue of universal jurisdiction as follows; "Universal jurisdiction is not taken into account today by the majority of African states. However, some of them, such as the Seychelles and Togo more recently, have been willing to try to adapt their domestic legal system to the norms and standards of international maritime law. There is also a so-called semi-universal jurisdiction that may apply to certain crimes such as maritime terrorism, arms trafficking or more generally drug trafficking and smuggling of migrants. "


Mr. Pierre LAPAQUE, Moderator of the session on Friday 14, October

This 1st Extraordinary Summit of the African Union, attended by several African Heads of States, led to the signing and adoption of the Charter of Lomé. It is a document comprising 56 articles divided into seven chapters, which was presented by the African Union to the participants and representatives of the different member states of the organization. It deals with the prevention and the fight against crime at sea and the responsibility of States Parties.

As Maritime Safety and Security in Africa is a priority of the UNODC, the organization has developed a strategic framework for improving regional capacity in the fight against piracy and armed robbery against ships. The GMCP UNODC has trained more than 150 judges and prosecutors within a year and a half, held six international coordination meetings and integrated two mentors in Ghana and Sao Tome and Principe, which has resulted in increased offshore operations. the GMCP also has supported Togo in the implementation of its legislative reform and has provided Nigeria, Gabon, Benin support for legal reform, while the same providing assistance in Sao Tome and Principe, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon on the same matter.

Mr. Francesco Giuseppe Emiliano Sernia (right) at the Summit hosting a session


For more information:

UNODC's activities on maritime crime and piracy

2013 Yaounde Code of Conduct on Piracy and Illicit Maritime Activity

2014 UNODC Maritime Crime Programme Annual Report

UN Convention on the Law of the Sea