The CGPCS in 2018. A comment on strategic priorities for the incoming chairmanship

With the 20th plenary the CGPCS has successfully consolidated its work and reconfirmed its position as the institution where global responses to piracy in the Western Indian Ocean are coordinated. The CGPCS continues to fill a major gap in the global maritime security architecture and provides a function that no other institution can. The piracy incidents occurring in 2017 have demonstrated why the CGPCS is still required and reconfirm why it must continue its vital work.
The revival of the Working Group on Operations at Sea tasked to evaluate the threats and risks to shipping was an important reaction to the current spike in piracy. It will be a priority for the incoming chairmanship to ensure that the working group meets as soon as possible and that it receives full support from those conducting threat and risk analyses, whether naval operations, the industry, non-governmental organisations such as Oceans Beyond Piracy, or academia.
One of the main functions of the CGPCS has been to ensure that information is shared between actors engaged in counter-piracy. Efficient communication between all actors is vital for coordination. But it is also important that the international community sends a strong and unified message to potential perpetrators. These are the two challenges that the future communication strategy of the CGPCS will need to address. They imply revising the website, newsletter and other internal communication tools, and identifying a mechanism to harmonise and coordinate the communication practices of actors like EUNAVFOR, FAO, UNODC and others. A strong message can be an important tool to deter Somalis from engaging in piracy.
Over the past four years the CGPCS has also become an important site where the relations between piracy and other maritime security issues are debated. While the mandate that the CGPCS has given itself remains focussed on piracy, it is common wisdom that maritime threats reinforce one another and that in particular, capacity building activities cannot focus on piracy alone, but must keep wider maritime insecurities on their radar. The 2017 Jeddah Amendments to the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) forcefully highlight these inter-connections, as do international capacity building projects whose scope extends significantly beyond piracy, such as the EU operations EUCAP Somalia and EU Crimario, or the UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme. The incoming chairmanship must continue to strengthen and promote the discussion concerning the inter-linkages between piracy and other sources of maritime insecurity. This does not imply changing the mandate of the group, whose strength has always been its narrow focus on piracy. Rather, it is to ensure the flow of information and the alignment of work between those actors exclusively addressing piracy and those focussed on broader maritime security issues.
The success of the two-year chairmanship of the Government of Seychelles has confirmed that regional actors can successfully master the work that this role entails. The decision taken at the 20th plenary that future chairs should come from the region and that the IOC will continue the work of Seychelles was a clear confirmation of that success. Continuing the regionalisation path, by ensuring that it is countries from the Western Indian Ocean that take ultimate responsibility for their regional waters, must form part of the future agenda. The new chair should advocate that regional countries remain active, or become more active. While regional countries must be in the lead, however, they do require support from the international community. It is important to emphasise that regionalisation cannot imply a withdrawal of international actors. Protecting trade and safeguarding freedom of navigation is, after all, a global task. This also implies the need for strong dialogue with the shipping industry.
Since its creation, one of the strengths of the CGPCS has been its flexibility and its ability to revise its working methods and configurations as the situation demands. While a working routine has been established over the years, it remains important to adapt and reform the CGPCS and its sub-groups as needs change and new needs arise. This implies working with the principle of subsidiarity and continuously asking what kind of body would best address a distinct coordination challenge. Transferring responsibility for the coordination of capacity building in Somalia to the Somali MSCC was an example of such a move. In a similar fashion, the incoming chair should raise the question of whether regional capacity building is better coordinated by another body, whether this is the DCoC, the MASE programme, or even the Indian Ocean Rim Association. Regional maritime security capacity building continues to suffer from duplication and overlap. In particular, work conducted within the frameworks of DCoC and MASE is not well coordinated, and bi-lateral and multi-lateral initiatives remain poorly aligned.
Maintaining the CGPCS as an informal, flexible and agile mechanism will also require an on-going strategic debate regarding the group’s long-term scenarios. The incoming chairmanship will need to prevent this debate from consuming the future working agenda, since it is only one challenge in a series of others. Yet, it remains important to ask which aspects of the work of the CGPCS can be transferred to other regional bodies, such as the DCoC, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, the Indian Ocean Maritime Crime Forum, or any newly created group for the Western Indian Ocean. It also means considering the position of the CGPCS within the global maritime security architecture. In the long run, will a contact group on global piracy be consistent with international needs, or is an international maritime security group for the Western Indian Ocean a better direction of travel?

Christian Bueger is Professor of International Relations at Cardiff University and Honorary Professor at the University of Seychelles. He is one of the principal investigators of the Lessons Learned Project of the CGPCS and editor of the website. Further information is available at

CGPCS Chair Handover to Indian Ocean Commission by Seychelles

The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) has succeeded the Republic of Seychelles as Chair of the CGPCS. Ambassador Barry Faure, Secretary of State and Chairman of the Contact Group, symbolically passed the baton to the IOC Presidency, represented by its Secretary General, at a handover ceremony held at Port Louis, Mauritius, 1 December.

The Indian Ocean Commission will begin its mandate for a two-year term, 1 January, 2018.

Ambassador Faure presented the results of the Seychellois presidency of the CGPCS. Satisfied with the work accomplished during his tenure, he said: “We have been able to set up more appropriate mechanisms to combat piracy, and the IOC’s take-over of the CGPCS is a natural continuation as this regional organization has always has been involved in the fight against piracy and other threats and risks at sea through its Seychelles-based anti-piracy unit, the MASE program and also by co-presiding since 2014, the CGPCS working group focused on the development of regional capacity”.

Mr. Faure added that “despite the advances made in the measures put in place to fight against piracy, recent events remind us of how important it is to remain vigilant and to continue the collective efforts to ensure safety on the heavily used maritime routes. eastern and southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.”

“Somali piracy is a reality and we, the small island states of the Indian Ocean, are the most vulnerable. The Republic of Seychelles was the first country in the Indian Ocean to assume the presidency since the establishment of the Contact Group on Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia. We wanted, during these two years of mandate, to lead by example and be proactive in coordinating exchanges and developing strategies to find innovative methods to effectively address this problem that goes beyond our region. We have worked extensively with the Indian Ocean Commission as part of the CGPCS and I am confident in its ability to meet expectations and most importantly to keep up the pace. The Republic of Seychelles has finished its mandate but will remain active in the collective fight against piracy,” said Faure. Read the entire speech here. 

For IOC Secretary General Hamada Madi, who represented Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo, head of Mauritian diplomacy and President of the IOC Council, this new responsibility “will enable IOC to continue and expand the work of Seychelles in Chair of the CGPCS. We count on the effective involvement of all members of the Contact Group because we are bound by common interests. Securing the maritime routes of the Indian Ocean is a challenge that goes beyond the region. It’s especially a challenge that we can meet collectively,” he said during his speech during the award ceremony.

In addition, the European Union, IOC’s first partner in promoting maritime safety in the Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean (ESA-IO) region, has confirmed its support for the Indian Ocean Commission for this new mandate.

“The Maritime Safety Program (MASE) demonstrates our support and commitment to address issues related to maritime insecurity. The establishment of the two centers will help to better coordinate the exchange of information and act effectively “, stressed the Ambassador of the European Union, Mrs. Marjaana Sall.

OBP holds informal threat assessment meeting

Sir James Burnell-Nugent of Oceans Beyond Piracy and Mr. Raymond St. Ange, representing the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPSC) co-chaired a meeting of maritime experts to discuss the maritime piracy threat in the Gulf of Aden the Western Indian Ocean on the 20th of November in London. The core purpose of the meeting was to discuss the current situation at sea in the light of the threat assessments of CMF, EUNAVFOR and the shipping industry. At the meeting also core counter-piracy instruments were discussed as well as the state of capacity building. The meeting also highlighted the importance of convening the CGPCS Operations at Sea Working Group as soon as possible.

UNSC Renews Authorization for International Naval Forces to Fight Piracy off Coast of Somalia

On November 7th the United Nations Security Council has renewed the mandate for counter-piracy in adopting Resolution 2383.  The resolution reviews the state of piracy and concludes that further efforts are required to deter and prosecute piracy activity. The resolution also welcomes the work of the CGPCS in facilitating the prosecution of pirates, in coordinating the work of international and regional organizations and states, particularly in the field of capacity building. It also requests a further report from the UN Secretary General in 11 months, and that all states and organizations active in counter-piracy provide updates and information to the UNSG Office. 

October newsletter of CGPCS chair provides update on activities

The CGPCS secretariat has published the October newsletter. The newsletter reports on the activities of the chairman as well as recent developments at sea and in capacity building. Highlights include a review of the current piracy situation, reports on several visits of the chairmen, as well as updates on the activities of capacity building missions such as CRIMARIO or EUCAP Somalia. Read the full newsletter here.

CGPCS chairmen visits Mogadishu

The Seychelles’ chair of the Contact Group on Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), Ambassador Barry Faure, has undertaken a goodwill mission to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia and the seat of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS).Ambassador Faure, who occupies the seat on behalf of the Republic of Seychelles, said upon his return from the July 23-24 mission that he was very satisfied with the outcome and the warm hospitality of the FGS which welcomed the visit and helped to plan it since the 20th CGPCS Plenary earlier this month in Mauritius.

“It was an opportunity for the CGPCS to reiterate its solidarity towards, and confidence in, the newly elected FGS, as well to take note of the noticeable progress that is already taking place in Mogadishu,” Ambassador Faure said.

High-level discussions took place with the Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, the deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Ahmed Guled, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Yusuf Garaad Omar, the Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources Abdirahman Mohamed Abdi Hashi, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs Abdulkadir Ahmedkheyr Abdi, and the Attorney General Ahmed Ali Dahir.

Discussions took place on regional and international efforts to promote maritime security cooperation and capacity building in Somalia and the larger region beyond Somalia, as well as the fight against piracy and IUU fishing. Following the discussions and in the interest of promoting regional and bilateral cooperation, senior Somali officials are expected to reciprocate the visit in the near future. The mission also met and interacted with various key international stakeholders assisting Somalia in its recovery, including the UN, the FAO, the EU and the AU.

During a call on the special representative to the chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, Ambassador Francisco Caetano Jose Madeira, the latter updated the mission on the current security situation in Somalia, noting that the FGS was a serious and responsible partner which needs the support of the international community in the short, medium and long term; but, more importantly, NOW, if the gains of the past decade and the efforts of the new regime are to be sustained.

The mission also comprised special advisor to the Designated Minister, Raymond St Ange (Head of the Secretariat of the CGPCS), Ahmed Hersi, the Regional Coordinator on Maritime Security for ESA-IO Region from the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), Commander Rajeev Kumar Singh and Fartum Mohamed Ibrahim, Maritime Security Advisor and Maritime Officer, respectively from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). UNSOM, IGAD and the Indian Ocean Commission played a much appreciated role in facilitating and coordinating the visit of the mission to Mogadishu.

Original Source: The Nation (Seychelles)

Outcomes of the 20th Plenary of the CGPCS

cgpcs-864x400_c (3)The outcomes of the 20th plenary of the CGPCS held in Mauritius are now available. The communique of the CGPCS summarises the main observations, decisions and next steps that were agreed at the three-day meeting. Please download the communique here. Major highlights of the plenary include:

  • the ongoing high level commitment of the international community to combat and deter piracy and support Somalia and the states in the Western Indian Ocean region.
  • It was decided to increase efforts to arrest and prosecute pirate leaders, financiers and facilitators.
  • It was agreed to closely monitor the current situation at sea through threat and risk assessments.
  • Also, the new future working configuration was agreed. Please find a summarised version of the CGPCS bodies her. 


20th plenary of CGPCS commences in Mauritius

mauritiusThe CGPCS will hold its plenary from the 5th to the 7th of July in Mauritius. The 20th plenary will not only be important to discuss recent pirate activities, but also to determine the future shape of the counter-piracy infrastructure. The meeting will kick start with the working group meetings on Wednesday afternoon. Three meetings are scheduled: The Working Group on Mitigation at Sea will discuss its future agenda under the chairmanship of the UAE. The Somali Maritime Security Coordination Committee (MSSC) led by the Federal Government will discuss progress in the Somali maritime security governance structures. The Regional Capacity Building Working Group under the chairmanship of the Government of Kenya will continue its assessment of capacity building needs. Also, a meeting of the UN Trust Fund is scheduled.

The majority of plenary presentations and discussions are scheduled for Thursday. Opening statement are expected from the Government of Mauritius, the Government of Seychelles, the United Nations, and the Federal government of Somalia. This is followed by a discussion of the current threat situation, updates on regional developments, and a debate on the future working structures of the CGPCS. Friday events will focus on the communique and the adoption of the CGPCS reform.