Transnational Crime and Governance Weakness in Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea
Brief Statement of Aims
The following research proposal aims at discussing the transnational crimes in the West African region, particularly focusing on the gulf of guinea. It will examine the maritime insecurity in the region and identify factors that contribute to their occurrence. Maritime insecurity is a major problem in the region and it has led to the development of other problems. Further, it will seek to identify some of the measures that the countries in the region have taken to deal with the existing problems as well as any limitations in the identified solutions. The paper seeks to identify some of the areas that the governments in the region should concentrate on to ensure that they enhance maritime security.
Review of Literature
Globalization has enabled effective facilitation of trade between countries. It has increased the difficulty of regulating and controlling trade. Those who trade across borders do not always trade legitimate and acceptable goods. Some of them are smugglers and drug traffickers. They have exploited the open channels created by globalization. Globalization has contributed to the economic inequalities in most countries. People from the poor countries continue to suffer in the midst of wealth. The easy money they get when they engage in drug dealing and other crimes attracts many people. West Africa has become a major transit point for the cocaine and heroin that is headed for European countries from the Asian and Latin American regions (NYU Centre on International Cooperation 1)
One of the main areas affected by transnational organized crime is West Africa. The annual cocaine seizures in West Africa increased from 273kilos to 47,000kilos from 2001 to 2007 (Cockayne). two main routes of drug trafficking emerged in the region, covering several countries including Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and around Benin, Ghana, and Togo (UNODC 6). The organized criminal groups in the region have become wealthy because of their illegal activities. This has hindered development, since the money is not used in the appropriate channels, and it has created instability. Drug trafficking has enabled the people dealing in it to acquire wealth. They are able to buy flashy cars and real estate. More threatening than this is the ability of the criminals to acquire power. Because of their increased wealth in the midst of poverty, the criminals are able to buy power. They are able to control the local people and the authorities as well. Political and military leaders who collaborate with the criminals are able to find easy money from all the criminal activities and this enables them to fund their activities (Cockayne). The funds are appealing because they are fast to acquire, easy to get, and relatively cost-free.
Drug money has managed to infiltrate the highest levels of power (NYU Centre on International Cooperation 2). This helps the leaders in their political campaigns. Essentially, this means that the people elect leaders who have the money and not who are capable of leading. This has affected leadership in the affected regions. The collaboration between the political leaders and the drug traffickers and other traffickers is mutual. The political leaders benefit the criminals by giving them political connections and protecting their trade. Moreover, they enable the criminals to acquire government services and other privileges such as provision of diplomatic passports. They also use the military to help them in their drug trafficking purposes. Countries such as The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, and Mali have suffered from the drug trafficking events. Political leaders, the police forces, legislatures, militaries, and court systems in these countries have benefited from the revenues of drug trafficking.
Cocaine heading to Europe from South America passes through West Africa. Although the amount of cocaine passing through the region has decreased, the remaining amount is still substantial to make the traffickers wealthy enough to remain in the business. Most of the cocaine comes from Brazil. It passes through Nigeria, where it is then exported to countries in Europe (Cockayne). Benin has also become a major transit point. The region has increased its production of methamphetamine as it has found new markets in East Asia and South Africa. Other than drugs, maritime piracy has become a growing problem in the gulf of guinea region (United National Office on Drugs and Crime 2013). In 2011, the coast of Benin experienced more than twenty pirate attacks. The booming market for fuel has contributed to increased crime in Togo. Many petroleum tankers are attacked in the country.
The gulf of guinea suffers from lack of maritime security. The region is diverse as it includes 6,000kilometers of unbroken coastline. The countries included in the region are Sierra Leone, Senegal, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, the republic of Congo, the democratic republic of Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, and Angola (Ukeje and Ela 9). The region has become important globally, as it serves as a route connecting the Far East countries in the north and southern regions of the Atlantic Ocean. It serves as a maritime route from Europe and America to the west, central, and southern Africa. It is close to Europe and America, and this makes it suitable for the transportation of crude oil from the West African countries to America and Europe (Chatham House 8). It has become important in international trade, as the shorter and more commonly used in the Arab gulf have become a major security risk and concern. In addition, many countries in the region have vast hydrocarbon resources and this has increased the importance of the region. Countries in the west and east have made major investments in onshore and offshore drilling. In addition, the region has rich fishing resources and other marine resources and it receives trawlers from all over the world. Added to this is the rich forestry, mineral and agricultural resources (Chatham House 8).
Unemployment and poverty, especially among the youth is one of the underlying factors that contribute to increased maritime insecurity. Many people live in severe poverty in the region. The dire conditions that people live in make piracy an attractive option because it is a way of getting money quickly and cheaply. Internal political disputes are another major cause of maritime insecurity. Some of the people have admitted to smuggling of oil. They justify their reasons for doing this, stating that it is a way of re-appropriating wealth and protesting against the injustices in their countries. Corruption and complicity ensure that various forms of crime continue along the gulf. Many of the traffickers and other criminals have managed to get connections with the military and top government officials. This makes it easy for them to move contraband and other drugs without any consequences (Jacobsen and Nordby 17). Factors that continue to encourage piracy in the region include favourable geography, a weak judicial system, internal and regional conflict and disorder, inadequate security, underfunded law enforcement system, a permissive political system, promises of rewards, and a culture of acceptability (Fiorelli 7)
As the gulf has become more important, it has also attracted all manner of businesses. Not every business conducted along the gulf is legal. In addition, the increased importance in the region has necessitated the need to increase security. Many countries in the gulf were not concerned with the maritime security in the region and this increased the number of criminal activities that were taking place. They were more focused on land-based threats. This means that they lacked awareness concerning the criminal activities that were taking place in the waters. However, this has changed because of increased businesses. However, the region continues to suffer for lack of security equipment such as surveillance systems and patrol boats. In addition, it does not have adequate trained surveillance personnel to counter the present threats (Gilpin 4). The maritime security in the region is becoming a major concern in the region. The governments are weak, as they do not have the capacity to handle the increased security challenges. The measures that have already been put in place are insufficient, ineffective, and weak and they do not deter criminals from continuing with their activities. In addition, as more people become aware of the many opportunities in the region, competition has intensified. Resources have become scarce and this has threatened the peace and stability in the region.
It is important to increase maritime security in the gulf to prevent increased cases of lawlessness and crime and promote development in the region. Maritime insecurity has increased peace and stability threats such as pirate attacks and violence. Transnational crime in West Africa has the potential to destroy peace and stability in the region. The crimes experienced in the region could also destroy political structures and institutions (Murithi 279). Insecurity has also increased diverse forms of criminal activities such as human and drugs trafficking, illegal, and unregulated fishing, dumping of waste, pollution, trafficking of firearms and pharmaceutical products, and theft and illegal trade of crude oil among others (Ukeje and Ela 7). In addition to this, sexual exploitation and forced labour have become more of a reality for the people living in these regions. Thousands of migrants from the region are able to travel to European countries illegally (Vorrath). The trafficked weapons have become more lethal and sophisticated as the criminal seek ways of evading local and international law enforcers (Gilpin 4). Crime undermines the ability of a nation to develop and promote development initiatives. It weakens the social structures and contributes to the mistrust between people and the government (Schnabel and Farr 154)
The increased crimes have threatened livelihoods and trade in the region. It has made domestic and international transport difficult. It is important to consider matters of maritime security because the oceans act as a lucrative operating environment for terrorists as well as other criminals (Vrey 2). It has become increasingly difficult to maintain maritime security at the gulf because of disputed boundaries. This has led to conflicts, tension, and lack of cooperation between the involved governments. Some of the countries disputing over boundaries include Nigeria and Cameroon, who are disputing over the Bakassi Peninsula; equatorial guinea and Cameroon, who are disputing over an island at Ntem River; and Gabon and equatorial guinea who are disputing over Mbane Island and Corisco Bay boundaries (Gilpin 4). There is also need to improve maritime security in the region in order to guarantee the presence of multinationals in the region. Already, some multinationals have already begun withdrawing from many of the countries because of increased risk to life (UK Chamber of Commerce 3).
The governments in the region have put in place some measures aimed at dealing with security challenges in the region. They have collaborated with other countries, which have diverse interests in the natural resources in the region. However, this has not been effective. In some cases, it has worsened the situation by increasing human rights abuses and weapons proliferation in the region (Ukeje and Ela 9). International institutions, including the UN, have raised their voices concerning the piracy in the gulf of guinea. The UN has adopted two resolutions passed in 2011 and 2012. The resolutions condemn piracy and armed robbery. The 2012 resolution called upon the regional governments to convene a summit that would end up in the development of a common maritime strategy. In 2012, the gulf had the highest number of pirate attacks (Jacobsen and Nordby8). In 2014, the African union adopted the integrated maritime strategy, which highlighted the maritime goals for the next 35 years. The document identified opportunities that would help to improve security and it noted the security challenges in the region.
The main aim of Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa (MOWCA) is to handle all regional maritime matters. However, it has not been effective in the last few years. Other regional bodies such as Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), have tried to solve the problem of maritime insecurity in the region. The GGC has the larger mandate as it was established with the aim of ensuring that there was peace, security, and stability in the region, which would in turn lead to economic development (Chatham House 5). Various institutions including Interpol, UNODC, DPA/UNOWA, and DPKO, combined to establish the West African Coast Initiative (WACI), which is meant to improve the national and international coordination of maritime security. In addition, the organization will enhance intelligence-based investigations and this will help to combat crime in the region (UN Missions).
What measures can the governments in the gulf of guinea region take to enhance maritime security in the region?
What role do the international institutions and other countries have in enhancing security in the region?
Weak governance often makes it impossible to maintain law and order. Many countries in the region suffer from system weaknesses and they have to deal with many prevailing socio-economic challenges (Warner and Kaye 285). The governments in the gulf region can do much to improve their maritime security. However, they have to be committed and dedicated to change. Some of the measures are tough and they will require self-sacrifice on the part of the concerned governments. This is especially the case on issues surrounding political corruption. If the governments can get leaders of integrity who are committed to the cause, then they can begin the process of improving maritime security. Such leaders will be able and willing to implement tough legislation that will prosecute local and international criminals accordingly. They will implement effective and severe laws to deal with the issues. There is no point improving security and surveillance if the perpetrators of the crimes will not be punished. This only frustrates the efforts of the law enforcers (Warner and Kaye 286). Moreover, they will ensure that more funds are used towards improving security. This will be essential in enabling training of adequate personnel and purchase of effective security surveillance. There is a need to ensure increased communication between the regional states. This will enhance coordination and it will help in overcoming the limitations realized by the different legal systems in different countries (Barrios 3). The extreme bureaucracy has limited communication between authorities and the citizens. In addition, Poor governance has contributed to poor delivery of social services (international peace institute 3). Most state services in West Africa have declined. This has had an effect on law enforcement agencies and judicial systems (United National Office on Drugs and Crime 4)
The governments in the region need to come up with ways of solving the issue of disputed boundaries between them. This will ensure that they are able to cooperate on essential matters such as security. Heads of states in the affected countries should come up with comprehensive polices aimed at ensuring that the issues of maritime security are dealt with and that offshore issues contributing to insecurity end. This requires cooperation of different ministries including transport, defence, interior, economy, labour, environment, natural resources, foreign affairs, fishing, social affairs, and fishing. The governments should set aside their differences and consider the seriousness of the issue, seeing that it is transnational in nature and it has negative consequences on all of them (International Crisis Group 23). They need to cater for the livelihoods of the people living in coastal communities, enforce laws on territorial and international waters, and manage all the industries that operate at sea. They should improve the economic governance of oil and other hydrocarbons as a way of ending oil theft and corruption. There is a need to intensify relationships between national and international authorities to ensure better and more effective ways of dealing with maritime insecurity. Latin Americans and not Africans) mostly manage the shipment of large cargoes of cocaine to the West African region (Kraft 31. This highlights the need of international cooperation. The region would benefit from the knowledge and experience of international countries. The regional countries would benefit in terms of getting the training and equipment required to deal with the insecurity. The US continues to partner with member nations, other countries, and international institutions to provide adequate training and equipment to enhance safety (Maradat 5). Such cooperation is necessary especially in determining the location of the funds from the criminal activities. Local authorities should be aware of how the criminal gangs get and dispense their funds. International countries are needed to trace the money trail and ensure that it does not benefit the criminals. Findings indicate that greater international collaboration can lead to good and positive results as witnessed in Somalia, which was facing the same problem of maritime insecurity (Gomez 3). The difficulty of controlling borders in international waters has made it challenging and almost impossible to maintain maritime security (Burns 3). Communication among all the countries is important, as it will help to reduce the present confusion concerning maritime security responsibilities. It will lead to enhanced coordination (Ali 265). The nations have to set the necessary mechanisms for dispute resolutions as one of the ways of enhancing security (Anyiam)
The research will focus on using secondary and primary sources from African and foreign researchers who have studied the issues extensively. The institutions include the UN, which has considerable experience in the region. Local and foreign scholars have worked together to understand the prevailing problem and to identify possible solutions.
Issues of Practicality, Access, and Ethics
Perhaps some of the main issues to consider on this issue concern the practicality of the identified solutions. It is possible that some of the solutions identified are not practical because they do not consider the differences in governments and legislation systems of the different countries. Moreover, it is important to consider the fact that the nations differ in terms of their capacities.
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