Maritime security is still at the forefront of Africa’s agenda, with much economic development reliant on maritime trade. Alongside ensuring the security of the maritime domain for legitimate economy uses, is the importance of denying it for illicit ones. International criminal networks are using the West African sub-region as a key global hub for the distribution, wholesale, and production of illicit drug. This activity threatens to reverse progress made in democratic and economic development. The proceeds of crime fuels narco-corruption in the region, allowing drug traffickers to co-opt political power, this represents an existential threat to West African Nations.

Despite nations in the region boosting defence spending, it is evident from their nature that transnational maritime security threats cannot be addressed by individual states in isolation. Significant progress has been made with cohesive regional cooperation, including milestone agreements such as the Gulf of Guinea Code of Conduct, as well as more recently the break-through agreement in Zone D (Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and ST&P) that promises to be a major model for further maritime security cooperation.

Although much progress has been made in the maritime security of the region over the past few years, there are still worrying incidents of piracy and other transnational threats with this trend likely to continue. This paradox is reflected in the April 2016 Presidential Statement of the UN Security Council, while the newly adopted African Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Development, October 2016, offers hope given its multilateral content and context.

The AFSEC 17 Summit is supported by the Centre for Maritime Law and Security Africa; and will bring together the senior security and military leaderships required to develop meaningful discussions and practical outcomes. Join us in Casablanca!

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