The UNODC Supports Countries in the Gulf of Guinea to Combat Global Maritime Crime


Global maritime crime, specifically piracy in central Africa, continues to be a major threat to the economic development of coastal economies. The Gulf of Guinea, home to some of the biggest oilfields of the world, is the area the most subject to maritime crime. From November 2018 to April 2019 attacks were reported in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe and. The modus operandi of the attacks includes hijacking of anchorage zones and attacks on the other oil and petroleum storage, transportation platforms and other boats also often the attacks involve kidnapping and abduction, highlighting the increasingly organized crime structure.

The frequency of the attacks is however not mirrored by a consequent judicial response. Indeed, there is a lack of evidence of pirates' convictions in West and Central Africa. The need for legal reforms, reinforcement of capacities in investigating and prosecuting maritime crimes remain a priority.

In this context, since 2009 the UNODC through the Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) has been assisting countries of the Gulf of Guinea in overcoming the constraints resulted from maritime crime including impunity, weak law enforcement, poor functioning of the criminal justice chain and limited capacity to control its borders by providing capacity building for law enforcement agencies and actors of criminal justice.

The UNODC Office for West and Central Africa celebrates the World Maritime Day (26 September 2019), by presenting its key results achieved in the fight against maritime crime.

Poster of the Signing Ceremony of the MoU for Joint Maritime Operations in Zone F
    Maritime crime mock trial in Accra, June 2019.

In 2019, the chiefs of staff from Ghana, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone; navies from Guinea; Liberia coast guards and Burkina Faso Gendarmerie met in Accra, Ghana and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for joint patrols in the zone F of the Gulf of Guinea Zone F: Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone). The UNODC led the preparation and finalization of the agreement which represents a great milestone of the joint efforts of the ECOWAS member states in the fight against Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) in the region.

The increasing commitment of the countries of the Gulf of Guinea to effectively contrast maritime crime is highlighted by the signing of the "Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Bill", in June 2019, by the President of Nigeria, Mr Muhammadu Buhari. Indeed, Nigeria is the first country in the Gulf of Guinea to promulgate a standalone law to fight piracy. Harmonized Operating Procédures (HSOPs) have also been drafted in order to effectively and efficiently deliver services in crime prevention, detection, appreension and investigation.




Provision of office materials to maritime crime prosecutors in Nigeria.

Furthermore, the UNODC, in collaboration with INTERPOL, has been organizing simulated trials in Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast on piracy and other maritime offenses. This initiative, founded by the United States of America, aims at building capacities of judges, investigators and prosecutors in effective prosecutions of maritime crime cases. The UNODC conducted a thorough research alongside with the national prosecutors, judges and other maritime and legal enforcement counterparts, to identify the existing gaps in the judicial systems.

In cooperation with European Union's Copernicus Programme, and specifically the Copernicus Maritime Surveillance service provided by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the UNODC' has conducted several trainings. The joint programme has led to inspections of suspect targets and to the arrest of suspect vessels in several countries including: Cabo Verde, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Togo and also in cooperation with the French Navy.

The activities of the GMCP are in line with the framework of the Regional Programme for West and Central Africa and contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.

For more information :

Global Maritime Crime Programme

Video Global Maritime Crime Programme in Ghana

Video Global Maritime Crime Programme in Sao Tome and Principe

Global Maritime Crime Newsletter