Italy aligns itself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union and adds the following remarks in a national capacity.
I thank China, Angola and Senegal for bringing this issue back to the Security Council after the debates in 2011 and 2012 and the adoption of resolutions 2018 and 2039 and of the presidential statement in August 2013.
Maritime piracy is a deadly threat to the lives of all men and women working at sea. It is a threat to maritime industry and international trade. It has links with organized and transnational crimes. It fuels conflicts. Piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea in particular undermine the consolidation of peace in Western Africa and the economic development of the Region to the benefit of its people.
Italy therefore remains concerned about the continuing pirate and armed attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and notes with concern their most recent rise in numbers, violence and geographic extension. It is particularly worrisome that these attacks occur both in international and national waters, undermining freedom and security of navigation which is essential to trade and economic development.
Italy therefore reiterates its commitment to halting this trend through a multidimensional approach based on prevention, diplomacy, training, security and addressing the root causes. Let me share with you some concrete examples beyond our active participation in the EU strategy for the Gulf of Guinea in support of the Yaoundé Process.
First of all, Italy is an active member of the G7 Plus Group of Friends of the Gulf of Guinea aimed at facilitating implementation of the relevant UN resolutions and of the Yaoundé Summit declarations on maritime security and safety in the Gulf of Guinea. We look forward to the upcoming meeting under the Portuguese Presidency. Italy will be attending and working to advance the implementation of the decision to establish by 2016 a full-fledged maritime security and safety architecture and to promote police and judicial cooperation in the Region.
In the same spirit of international engagement and cooperation, Italy officially supported Angola in convening last November in Luanda the International Conference on Maritime Security and Energy. Our Deputy Minister for Defense attended the meeting which ended with the adoption of the Luanda Declaration on information sharing and raising maritime situational awareness. On this basis, the Italian and the Angolan Navies are negotiating a technical follow up arrangement.
Second, local ownership and national leadership are essential to complement international support and direct it where it is most needed and effective. In this regard, I stress the important role played by regional and sub-regional organizations. The Yaoundé Code of Conduct has chosen three regional organization to steer the process – ECOWAS, ECCAS and the GCC – and we look forward to cooperating with them. We welcome in particular the high level meeting held last February and underscore the importance of the Inter Regional Coordination Center based in Cameroon which we are actively supporting thorough a grant. The UN Office for Western Africa and the Sahel can also play a facilitating role as part of its overall action in the Region.
Third, training and capacity building are crucial and we have been focusing on this. During the circumnavigation of Africa in the first half of 2014, the Italian Navy carried out specific training activities on maritime security and fight against piracy on our flagship, Nave Cavour. Over 20 African countries and 21 ports were touched during this campaign, including those in the Gulf of Guinea, and maritime capacity building initiatives were successfully carried out. In the same spirit, Italy is currently supporting UNODC’s Maritime Program which promotes capacity building to address and eradicate crimes committed at sea, including acts of piracy, armed robbery and illicit trafficking.
This is part of our comprehensive effort to help West Africa and Sahel countries enhance their overall capacities in tackling illicit flows of arms, natural resources, goods and persons. The Italian Navy has bilateral training programs with its counterparts in the Gulf of Guinea and beyond. Through our Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza, Italy has developed a wide range of cooperation activities with the region’s countries in this field. Let me name three examples: border and custom management programs; investigative techniques and counter-terrorism training courses; information sharing.
My last point is that to tackle the phenomenon effectively we must go beyond piracy and armed robbery addressing their root causes on land. Socio-economic development; job opportunities; inequalities; education; youth engagement; women empowerment must all be factored-in in our decision making on this issue. The implementation of Agenda 2030 and AU’s Agenda 2063 will play a pivotal role to this end. The African Union Summit on maritime security and safety and development in Africa, to be held in Lomé on 15 October, will offer an excellent opportunity to advance the agenda regarding the Gulf of Guinea and we look forward to its outcome and concrete deliverables.
We will further discuss the way to strengthen our joint efforts with African partners on security and development issues in the Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference to be held in Rome next May 18.
Let me end with a personal note. I was born 200 meters from the Mediterranean Sea. Sea brings you food, money, culture and open-mindedness. Peaceful seas mean future. This is one of the reasons why we are so active in the Mediterranean to save lives: sea could bring a better future and a better life to everyone. That is why we are committed to ensuring peaceful seas in the Gulf of Guinea and every corner of the seas and oceans of the world.
I thank you, Mr. President.