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Code of Conduct Concerning the Repression of Piracy, Armed Robbery Against Ships, and Illicit Maritime Activity in West and Central Africa

Published June 25, 2013

Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) created a code of conduct, modeled after the Djibouti Code of Conduct, to increase regional cooperation in combatting piracy. The code of conduct was signed on June 25, 2013, after a conference on maritime safety and security in Yaounde, Cameroon and is also known as the Yaounde Declaration.

Excerpt from the code:
"Article 2: Purpose and Scope
1. Consistent with their available resources and related priorities, their respective national laws and regulations, and applicable rules of international law, the Signatories intend to co-operate to the fullest possible extent in the repression of transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, IUU fishing and other illegal activities at sea with a view towards:
(a) sharing and reporting relevant information;
(b) interdicting ships and/or aircraft suspected of engaging in in transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, IUU fishing and other illegal activities at sea;
(c) ensuring that persons committing or attempting to commit in transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, IUU fishing and other illegal activities at sea are apprehended and prosecuted; and
(d) facilitating proper care, treatment, and repatriation of seafarers, fishermen, other shipboard personnel and passengers subjected to transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, IUU fishing, and other illegal activities at sea, particularly those who have been subjected to violence.
2. The Signatories intend this Code of Conduct to be applicable in relation to transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, IUU fishing and other illegal activities at sea in Central and West Africa.
3. The Signatories should carry out their obligations and responsibilities under this Code in a manner consistent with the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States and that of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other States.
4. Operations to suppress transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, IUU fishing and other illegal activities at sea in and over the territorial sea of a Signatory are the responsibility of, and subject to the sovereign authority of that Signatory.
Article 3: Guiding Principles
1. The Signatories intend that any measures taken pursuant to this Code of Conduct should be carried out by law enforcement or other authorized officials from warships ormilitary aircraft, or from other ships or aircraft clearly marked and identifiable as being in government service and authorized to that effect.
2. The Signatories recognize that multiple States, including the flag State, State of suspected origin of the perpetrators, the State of nationality of persons on board the ship, and the State of ownership of cargo may have legitimate interests in cases arising pursuant to Articles 4 and 5. Therefore, the Signatories intend to liaise and co-operate with such States and other stakeholders, and to coordinate such activities with each other to facilitate the rescue, interdiction, investigation, and prosecution.
3. The Signatories intend, to the fullest possible extent, to conduct and support the conduct of investigations in cases of in transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, IUU fishing and other illegal activities at sea taking into account the relevant international standards and practices, and, in particular, recommendations adopted by IMO.
4. The Signatories intend to co-operate to the fullest possible extent in medical and decedent affairs arising from operations in furtherance of the repression in transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, IUU fishing and other illegal activities at sea.
5. The Signatories intend to ensure that, in seeking the fulfilment of the above objectives, a balance is maintained between the need to enhance maritime security and facilitation of maritime traffic and to avoid any unnecessary delays to international maritime trade in West and Central Africa;
Article 4: Measures at the National Level
1. The Signatories intend to develop and implement, as necessary:
(a) Appropriate national maritime security policies to safeguard maritime trade from all forms of unlawful acts;
(b) National legislation, practices and procedures, which together provide the security necessary for the safe and secure operation of port facilities and ships at all security levels; and
(c) National legislation which ensures effective protection of the marine environment,
2. The Signatories intend to establish, as necessary, a national maritime security committee or other system for co-ordinating the related activities between the departments, agencies, control authorities, and other organizations of the State, port operators, Companies and other entities concerned with, or responsible for the implementation of, compliance with, and enforcement of, measures to enhance maritime security and search and rescue procedures,
3. The Signatories intend to establish, as necessary, a national maritime security plan with related contingency plans (or other system) for harmonizing and co-ordinating the implementation of security measures designed to enhance the security in the international maritime transport sector with those of other modes of transport,
4. The Signatories intend to prosecute, in their domestic courts and in accordance with relevant domestic laws, perpetrators of all forms of piracy and unlawful acts against seafarers, ships, port facility personnel and port facilities,
5. The organization and functioning of this national system is exclusively the responsibility of each State, in conformity with applicable laws and regulations.

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