October 21, 2016

Statement by H.E. Mr. Osman Saleh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Eritrea

At the Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union on Maritime Security, Safety and Development
15 October 2016, Lomé, Togo

Mr. Osman Saleh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Eritrea

Mr. Chairman,
At the outset, I wish to express my profound gratitude to the People and Government of the Togolese Republic for the warm hospitality accorded to us and for the excellent facilities put at our disposal.

Mr. Chairman,
Eritrea, as a coastal State with more than 3300 kilometers long mainland and island coast, more than 350 islands, about 50,000 square kilometers of territorial waters and an Exclusive Economic Zone nearly the same size as its land mass, recognizes the need for prudent, effective and integrated maritime governance.

Our seas and oceans hold enormous potential for improving the standard of life of our populations and for developing our economies as envisaged in Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Coastal and island communities depend on the seas and oceans for their livelihood. The importance of maritime transport to international trade cannot be over emphasized, as up to 90% of word trade is transported by sea. Our seas and oceans are home to rich flora, fauna and mineral resources that can contribute towards ensuring food security and the transformation of our economies. They are also major tourist attractions.

Mr. Chairman,
Sustainable utilization of marine resources depend on putting in place sound policies, institutions and infrastructure capable of curbing international crimes such as piracy; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; human and drug trafficking; terrorism, and on equipping ourselves with the tools required to harness the resources in order to meet our nations’ development objectives. We should also remain vigilant of the ongoing scramble by external forces for African coast and territorial waters.

Mr. Chairman,
Although located in the volatile southern Red Sea, Eritrea has developed capacity to effectively maintain the security of its territorial waters, thereby making enormous contribution to the security and stability of one of the busiest sea lanes.
While prioritizing the protection of its diverse marine ecosystem, Eritrea is putting efforts to increase the benefits drawn from its rich marine resources. The Eritrean Government is also developing the nation’s human resources, and expanding and modernizing the port facilities to meet national and regional demand.

Mr. Chairman,
Eritrea recognizes the need to deploy collective efforts in maritime governance, to enhance national endeavors. It is in this vein that Eritrea welcomes the holding of this Extraordinary Summit dedicated to maritime issues, as well as the preparation of the draft Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Development.
My Delegation commends the work undertaken to draft the Charter in a short period of time. However, we have noticed that the ambitious objectives and scope of the current draft has not been matched by its contents. It is also critical to align the provisions of the draft Charter with existing African and United Nations legal instruments governing maritime issues. Taking these into account, my Delegation welcomes the consensus reached to continue refining the Charter and accompany it with sector-specific annexes.

Thank you!

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