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Ten Years of the Yaoundé Protocol: Reflections on Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea

The Yaoundé Protocol has driven a decline in West and Central African piracy and charted a course for what transnational security collaboration can accomplish around the continent.

In June 2013, representatives from 25 West and Central African governments, ECOWAS, and ECCAS gathered in Yaoundé, Cameroon, to pledge their cooperation to curb illicit activities in the Gulf of Guinea. The resulting Yaoundé Protocol (also known as the Yaoundé Code of Conduct) put forth a shared vision for addressing maritime challenges faced by the region. The agreement instituted the zonal security architecture needed to collaboratively patrol the waterways off the coast of West and Central Africa, which had been subjected to the highest rates of piracy of any region in the world.

In this interview, Dr. Assis Malaquias, a key facilitator of the Protocol, looks back on the significance of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and its impact on the Gulf of Guinea’s declining piracy as well as on the region’s “culture of togetherness” in security collaboration. He outlines additional priorities for executing the Yaoundé Protocol, including the need to continue developing national maritime strategies and other mechanisms at the country level to protect the sovereignty of the state at sea. Looking ahead to the next decade, Dr. Malaquias draws a link between the region’s prospects for prosperity and the protection of the maritime highways connecting its ports to one another and to the broader world.

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