HEM Robert Dussey, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Togo gave the keynote remarks at the CGPCS side event held on 9 July on the topic of “Supporting Pan African Goals for 2050.” The event was sponsored by Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) and the International Peace Institute and also featured HEM Téte António, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the UN, who discussed the importance of the “Decade of African Seas and Ocean.” Minister Dussey was also invited to the Plenary session of the CGPCS to announce that the Republic of Togo would host the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union of Maritime Security and Development in Africa from 2-7 November in Lomé, Togo.
Maritime Focus Groups Convened in New York
In preparation for the Summit, Minister Dussey had reached out to OBP to provide technical support to help frame issues that could support the goals of the African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS), which will form the basis for planning. Taking advantage of the Minister’s presence in New York, OBP invited several maritime experts from governments, international organizations and non-governmental agencies to attend Focus Group meetings which were held on a variety of maritime issues of critical importance to the entire African continent. Based on expertise provided by some of the CGPCS participants, the discussions also addressed possible lessons learned from East Africa that could be applied to Pan African challenges. The Focus Group meetings addressed ocean environment conservation, illicit trafficking and smuggling, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in addition to piracy and armed robbery at sea. Each group generated practical recommendations and actionable goals that could frame maritime issues and help guide the agenda of the upcoming summit.
Issue Recommendations Presented at the Side Event
The Focus group ideas were then presented to Minister Dussey during the second panel of the side event, which was moderated by Jérôme Michelet of OBP and included Lisa Speer of Natural Resources Defense Council, Robert Mazurek of Secure Fisheries, John Steed of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and the French Special Representative for the Fight Against Piracy, Ambassador Véronique Roger-Lacan.
Both the focus group and panel discussions proved to be important steps in the preparation of the African Maritime Summit, and provided a vision of some of the most critical issues to African governments. The Summit will bring together the Heads of State and government of the fifty-four countries in the African Union in Lomé, Togo to create consensus on a cohesive African maritime future based on implementation of the 2050 AIM Strategy.
“The Togolese government is committed to the success of this Summit,” said Minister Dussey. “We believe that this event will mark the beginning of a new era, which sees the maritime domain as an important tool in African development.” Minister Dussey concluded the event by saying, “Africa is a continent of the future. Believe in us and we can work together.”
Oceans Beyond Piracy and its partners are looking forward to continuing their work with Togo in a consultative capacity to help ensure actionable progress is achieved in November.