STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR OSMAN KEH KAMARA PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SIERRA LEONE TO THE AFRICAN UNION DURING THE MINISTERIAL MEETING OF THE PEACE AND SECURITY COUNCIL OF THE AFRICAN UNION, ON ‘AFRICAN CHARTER ON MARITIME SECURITY SAFETY AND DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA’ AT THE AFRICAN UNION HEADQUARTERS IN ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, ON 25TH APRIL, 2017
At the outset, allow me to begin by expressing regret on behalf of my Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation who is unavoidably absence due to prior engagement. He conveys warm greetings to you and also wishes you a successful meeting. My delegation congratulates you and the Republic of Togo for convening today’s Ministerial session of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union for the consideration of the sole agenda item “African Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Development in Africa (aka the Lome’ Charter),” a subject matter of significant interest for Africa and the global community. We are gratified with the efforts you and the secretariat of the Peace and Security Council have made for the preparation of the meeting. We assure you of our continue support throughout your stewardship of this Council.
Undoubtedly, the “Lome’ Charter” which was adopted on 15th October, 2016 at an extraordinary summit of the African Union recognises the oceans and seas as an integral and essential component of the Earth’s ecosystem and of crucial value to sustaining it. The role of oceans in supporting life on Earth is thus of vital importance. We note however, that our oceans and seas face enormous challenges including the deterioration of the marine environment, depletion of its valuable array of biological diversity, adverse effect of climate change, those relating to maritime safety and security including but not limited to the acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, illicit trafficking of all kinds, international terrorism, and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing practices.
Safe navigation and unimpeded transportation of goods by seas are crucial to international trade and development. The acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea constitute grave threat to maritime trade and the security of maritime shipping. Piracy endangers lives of seafarers, affects national security, territorial integrity and hampers economic development of nations.
We highly appreciate the efforts made by African States and the global community in containing piracy off the coast of ‘The Horn of Africa’ through international cooperation and coordination. Sierra Leone through the United Nations, the African Union and relevant conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) actively participates in international efforts to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea. We are gratified that these collective efforts actually yielded significant results as in the past couple of years there has not been reports of successful hijacking off the coast of Somalia until in recent months when two incidents of piracy in the gulf of Eden and Indian Ocean were reported. We would also like to express our deep concern over the incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea. While we acknowledge the fact that states in the West African region have the primary responsibility to counter the threats of piracy, we believe that piracy is a global scourge; therefore the entire global community should continue its complementarity role, cooperation and collaborative efforts toward ensuring the end of this menace.
The ratification of the “Lome’ Charter” and the unconstrained functioning of the national, regional and continental institutions; inter-agencies and/or committees established there-under hold the key to the proper implementation of its provisions and to the realization of the desired equitable benefits from the uses of the seas. Accordingly, we support efforts toward ratification and implementation of the provisions of the charter.
Finally, being a country with a vast coastline and huge maritime space (Exclusive Economic Zone – EEZ) endowed with oil and gas, marine genetic resources and rich biodiversity in the water column, seabed, and continental shelf etc, Sierra Leone has a traditional and abiding interest in the maritime and ocean affairs, and assures full compliance with efforts toward ensuring the appropriate management and sustainable use of the oceans and seas as a responsible member of the African Union and the global community.
I thank you for your kind attention.