Recognising the importance of a secure maritime environment in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, a task force set up by the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in east Africa has set itself six responsibilities.
They are formulating policies and strategies on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, including development of a common IGAD position; charting a regional plan of action with clear timelines; drafting an IGAD convention on the two marine areas; undertaking policy oriented research; and creating awareness of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
“The task force marks a paradigm shift that necessitates the willpower and determination of IGAD member states’ leaders. It is called multilateralism and is more about regional cohesion, co-ordination and is well fitted to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden arena,” co-task force chair Ambassador Mohamed Ali Guyo said in a statement.
Both marine areas are, according to the statement, characterised by waste dumping, piracy, illegal fishing, arms smuggling and drug trafficking.
The task force will engage with experts from the IGAD region and beyond to discuss policy recommendations and strategies.
In addition to the five stated problems others identified for action by the task force are climate refugees and border disputes. Both are seen as “sources of tension” in the region.
An experts’ workshop, the statement has it, “allowed participants to “acquire knowledge and learn about progress in implementation of the IGAD Red Sea and Gulf of Aden mandate, including the IGAD Declaration of Principles on the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and changing attitudes on the geostrategic importance of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden”.
IGAD will continue to support regular experts’ technical roundtable dialogue on the dynamics of the Red Sea and potential implications with the aim of improving the maritime policy environment in the Horn of Africa by way of strengthening regional exchanges, cohesion, co-operation and co-ordination.