Speech: Mapisa-Nqakula at 4th international security confernce in Moscow




General Sergei Shoigu – Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation,

Mr Anatoly Antonov – Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation,

General Valery Gerasimov – Chief of General Staff of the Russian Federation,

Fellow Ministers of Defence,

Your Excellencies,

Representatives from foreign Governments

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I want to express my sincerest appreciation for the invitation to this prestigious conference on international security and to contribute to create an international awareness on the threats to global security. I want to render a South African perspective on a very complex dimension of global security, namely Maritime Security.

Maritime Security is a key component of collective security, stability and peace, more today, in a multipolar world order. Our oceans encompass almost 70% of the earth’s surface, and carry more than 80% of global trade.

All nations, whether coastal or landlocked, are to a greater or lesser extent dependant on the sea for the continued success of their economies and hence the well-being of their peoples. The freedom of nations to use the highways provided by the oceans to ply their trade to all the corners of the earth is the basis for this dependence.

In the case of Africa, the importance of maritime trade for economic development and regional integration cannot be overemphasised. About 90% of the total trade of our continent is seaborne. Ships remain the means to trade between continents and islands.

Closer to home, in SADC, about 30% of the world oil supply passes through the Mozambique Channel annually. Consequently, the ability to trade, as well as the principle of the freedom of the seas, are central to any policy and planning of the security of the region.

It was for this reason that the continent and the SADC region recognise the rise in maritime insecurity around the Horn of Africa as a detriment to security of states as well as to the continent’s economy. In particular, piracy and maritime crime is negatively impacting on
the economies of African states connected to the Indian Ocean as well as Indian Ocean

Island States whose economies depend to a great extent on tourism.

These aspects of maritime criminality include illegal fishing, plundering of maritime
resources, illegal exploitation of minerals and hydrocarbons and the trafficking/smuggling of
illegal goods, weapons, people and drugs. Piracy also targets hydrocarbons and natural gas exploration and drilling at sea. There have been instances where vessels carrying gas to Indian Ocean Island States has been hijacked, significantly impacting on the supply of gas.

The nature of SADC maritime security and the costs of piracy today call for a
comprehensive approach to this global challenge of maritime piracy which entails short and
long term initiatives.

SADC maritime security and the ability of its member states to trade by sea with other nations, is inextricably linked to economic growth and prosperity. In addition, given the plundering of land resources due to various factors, including instability and environmental degradation, the maritime economy should be an important part of Africa’s food security plans, if not for the world as a whole.

Why is this an issue for an international conference such as this one?

Maritime transport costs have been shown to significantly constrain international
trade, and therefore by implication, a country’s ability to compete meaningfully in the world
economy. To the extent that transport costs are part of the costs of trade, it is important to
realise the threat piracy poses to our economy and our trade routes, namely the magnitude
of the barriers to trade, that piracy may create through additional costs related to transport,
logistics and insecure trade routes.

The acts of maritime piracy and robbery at sea not only cost the affected countries in
terms of direct loss of revenues from diminished tourism, foreign direct investments, but also indirectly through increased transportation and infrastructure costs. Maritime piracy is causing an increasing toll on the international shipping industry and affecting returns on investment for those selling goods and services, while affecting economic growth potential for many countries in the continent.

The message to all of us is this, this is not Africa’s problem, it’s a global problem that affect all of us in our living rooms.

Unless a number of steps are taken, in cooperation on a global stage, these activities will continue to distort the true cost of world trade.

The global response to the scourge and threat of maritime crime: Have we done enough?

Some critical maritime trade routes in the oceans of the world are threatened by recurring incidences of piracy, maritime crime, and terrorism. There are also increasing incidences of total disregard and transgression of international maritime law by state and non-state actors.

These recurring phenomena have critical, long term and often permanent implications for sustainable development and good order at sea. Without a universal consciousness and awareness, the outcome is undoubtedly maritime insecurity and instability having debilitating effects on the economic, social and developmental spheres of primarily those countries suffering from unstable governments, underdevelopment, weak economies and low growth rates. The concomitant effects are often weak, failed or collapsed states without proper capacity to implement and enforce regulatory frameworks to mitigate the effects of domestic insecurity and instability, let alone the capacity and capability to secure their maritime zones and contribute to the international obligation of ensuring freedom of passage at sea. Conflict and crime, we know, obeys the most basic law of nature and will move to fill any vacuum.

How much have we done since the world’s attention was drawn over the past decade to the impact of insecurity and instability in the ocean space surrounding Africa?

A sudden increase in piracy caught the international community off-guard, where small bands of ill-equipped pirates, seized unarmed and highly vulnerable merchant cargo ships in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali Coast demanding exorbitant ransoms from the owners of these vessels. The piracy was exacerbated by the willingness of the owners of the seized vessels and cargo to pay the ransoms and so avoid the financial impacts of these acts. If we analyse the aspect of law enforcement at sea in these affected areas, the absence of a legitimate and capable government in Somalia, substantially undermined its constitutional right to enforce its domestic law, both in its territorial waters in its contiguous zone.

Ladies and Gentlemen, by the time that the effects of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali Coast, affecting one of the major international maritime trade routes, were fully comprehended, the perpetrators had gained a major strategic initiative, namely debilitating a trade route carrying 30% of the global crude oil. The response by the international community was to deploy extensive naval resources on this trade route. It is important to note, and appreciate in particular, the efforts by coalitions of the willing and nations operating independently such as Russia, China and South Africa. These provided the required naval capacity to mitigate the effects of piracy and to create an environment conducive for maritime trade to continue unhindered on this trade route. Additionally organisations such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium were established to address regional collaboration to ensure enhanced maritime security. I am pleased to report that IONS has, since its inception, been chaired by India, the UAE, South Africa and Australia and continues to advance meaningful collaboration in maritime security.

The scope and seriousness of this international crisis was such that it stimulated international awareness amongst some of the most affected African states, to convene a meeting in Djibouti during January 2009 under the auspices of the International Maritime Organisation to sign the Djibouti Code of Conduct. The aim of the Djibouti Code of Conduct was to cooperate to counter piracy by the signatory states through information sharing and capacity building.

An important outcome of the Djibouti Code of Conduct was that the signatories agreed to review their respective domestic legislation to ensure that laws are in place to criminalise piracy and armed robbery against merchant ships. This was one of the critical shortcomings in the initial response by the international community to act against pirates.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in spite of substantial investments in a number of areas, the current international response falls short of what is required to end this phenomenon. In order to defeat piracy, a coordinated and sustainable effort by governments, security forces and industry is necessary.

It is very clear, that any efforts to achieve maritime security, will have to be based on cooperation in maritime affairs, as a prerequisite. In this regard, maritime governance or good order at sea, through cooperation, may even transcend beyond and redefine traditional understanding of sovereignty.

The ability to transit the maritime domain freely is critically important to national security, regional stability and economic vitality. Furthermore, our oceans have also been theatres of major international conflict since the earliest recorded history of humankind.

The South African Government, actively fulfilling its international obligations and commitments in this regard, was instrumental in the signing of a trilateral agreement during 2013 with Mozambique and Tanzania to patrol, search, arrest, seize and conduct hot pursuit operations in each other’s territorial waters due to the escalation of piracy into the Mozambique Channel. The South African Navy will continue to conduct patrols in the Mozambique Channel and elsewhere when required. I am confident that the South African Navy’s presence in the Mozambique Channel contributed to the significant decline in piracy activities on the east coast of Africa.

Ladies and Gentlemen, given the gravity of the worsening maritime insecurity and instability surrounding Africa, the African Union Commission convened a workshop of maritime experts from all its Member States during April 2010 to draft the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Security Strategy articulating an overarching coherent multi-layered, African-driven, long term vision to address Africa’s maritime challenges. The 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU in January 2014 adopted the strategy during its sitting.

The gravity of the implications of maritime insecurity and instability worldwide has furthermore led the AU Peace and Security Council during 2013 emphasising the need for the sharing of experience and knowledge on maritime safety and security for all regions of the African Continent. The focus was broadened from the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Coast to the Gulf of Guinea where global crude oil theft, money laundering, illegal arms and drug smuggling, human trafficking, smuggling of migrants, piracy and environmental crimes have increased dramatically. Consequently, the AU Commission convened the First Summit on Maritime Safety and Security in the Gulf of Guinea during June 2013. This critical meeting emphasised the creation of maritime domain awareness in this region, as indispensable for ensuring sustainable economic growth. Concomitant is the ability to coordinate effective response to any maritime threat.

The ongoing and escalating crisis that impacts negatively on Africa led to the Second AU Commission ministerial meeting on Maritime Safety and Security in Africa, held in the Seychelles during February this year. This meeting provided an opportunity for concerned AU Member States and their international partners to continue to discuss maritime safety and security and reinforced the critical need for the adoption of a comprehensive common approach towards maritime insecurity and instability in Africa.

From a regional perspective, maritime insecurity and instability is a major concern to all SADC Member States. SADC coastal states and littoral states are equally dependent on maritime trade. Any maritime instability and insecurity has profound negative consequences for the regional economy. The SADC Maritime Security Strategy was adopted during the 31st Summit of Heads of State and Government on 9 August 2011 in Angola. It provides regional policy direction and guidance to address maritime insecurity and instability in the SADC Region.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have briefly mentioned some ongoing international, continental and regional initiatives to create the required collective response, a critical success factor in addressing the recurring maritime insecurity and instability negatively affecting the lives of Africans at large. However, it also negatively influences the lives of people around the world as maritime insecurity and instability have concentric circular effects globally. These collective, collaborative and consensual security regimes are the enablers of a common approach to global maritime security and stability. Such an integrated approach reinforcing existing initiatives globally, will create conditions of shared awareness, shared resources and shared responsibilities within the ambit of multilateralism.

Ladies and Gentlemen, maritime security and stability constitute the cornerstones of our quest to protect the oceans to sustain life on earth and enhance prosperity. The South African Government remains committed to its shared responsibility to fight this scourge to humanity, transcending religious, gender, political, ethnic and political boundaries. We call on our partners to share this awareness and to capacitate us, the willing, in our concerted efforts to make the world a safer place.

I thank you