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G7 Ministers Issue Declaration on Maritime Security

Schloss Elmau
Schloss Elmau

Published Apr 15, 2015 9:06 PM by The Maritime Executive

The heads of state and government of the Group of Seven (G7) will be meeting at Schloss Elmau in Upper Bavaria, Germany, on 7 and 8 June 2015. In addition to the global economy and foreign, security and development policy, they will be discussing the protection of the marine environment, marine governance and resource efficiency.

In Lübeck, April 15, 2015 the G7 foreign ministers issued a declaration on maritime security:

The maritime domain is a cornerstone of the livelihood of humanity, habitat, resources and transport routes for up to 90 per cent of intercontinental trade. It connects states and regions and makes otherwise distant nations neighbors.

Humankind depends on a safe, sound and secure maritime domain in order to preserve peace, enhance international security and stability, feed billions of people, foster human development, generate economic growth and prosperity, secure the energy supply and preserve ecological diversity and coastal livelihoods. As the world’s population grows, our reliance on the oceans as a highway for commerce and a source of food and resources will increase even more. The free and unimpeded use of the world’s oceans undergirds every nation’s journey into the future.

We, the Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union, are convinced that we can comprehensively counter threats to maritime security only if we follow a cooperative, rules-based cross-sector approach and coordinate our actions nationally, regionally and globally. We are persuaded that lasting maritime security can only be achieved if we join forces in order to strengthen maritime governance in pursuit of rules-based, sustainable use of seas and oceans.

We reiterate our commitment to the freedoms of navigation and overflight and other internationally lawful uses of the high seas and the exclusive economic zones as well as to the related rights and freedoms in other maritime zones, including the rights of innocent passage, transit passage and archipelagic sea lanes passage consistent with international law. We further reiterate our commitment to unimpeded lawful commerce, the safety and security of seafarers and passengers, and the conservation and sustainable use of natural and marine resources including marine biodiversity.

We are committed to maintaining a maritime order based upon the principles of international law, in particular as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). We continue to observe the situation in the East and South China Seas and are concerned by any unilateral actions, such as large scale land reclamation, which change the status quo and increase tensions. 

We strongly oppose any attempt to assert territorial or maritime claims through the use of intimidation, coercion or force. We call on all states to pursue the peaceful management or settlement of maritime disputes in accordance with international law, including through internationally recognized legal dispute settlement mechanisms, and to fully implement any decisions rendered by the relevant courts and tribunals which are binding on them. We underline the importance of coastal states refraining from unilateral actions that cause permanent physical change to the marine environment in areas pending final delimitation.

We firmly condemn acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, transnational organized crime and terrorism in the maritime domain, contraband trade, trafficking of human beings, smuggling of migrants, trafficking of weapons and narcotics, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, trafficking in protected species of wild fauna and flora, and other illegal maritime activities. 

These constitute serious and intolerable threats to the life and wellbeing of passengers and crews on board ships, to marine biodiversity and food security, to the rule of law and to freedom of navigation and lawful trade and transport. They pose major risks to the stability and development of coastal states in areas prone to piracy and other forms of maritime crime and maritime terrorist activity. 

We oppose the deliberate obstruction of sea lanes aimed at interrupting trade, traffic and tourism, as well as threats against critical sea-borne infrastructure and against energy supply security in the maritime domain. 

The development of standards for safe navigation, protection of the marine environment, communication, and operation of maritime shipping has long been an area of international cooperation. 

We call upon governments, port authorities, shipping companies, ship owners, operators, shipmasters and crews to apply and implement existing law and guidance in order to increase maritime safety and security, such as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS), the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Guidance to ship owners, ship operators, shipmasters and crews on preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships. 

We call on ship owners, ship operators, shipmasters and crews to report any criminal act at sea immediately in order to prevent future attacks and to improve data collection.

We reaffirm our commitment to further international cooperation on combating maritime security threats. We commend the United Nations and its specialized bodies, NATO’s Operations Ocean Shield and Active Endeavour and the European Union Naval Force Operation Atalanta in close collaboration with their partners, the US-led Combined Maritime Force and national contributors, as well as other initiatives such as the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) and the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea Group (FoGG) for their achievements as regards enhancing security in the maritime domain and strengthening rules-based maritime governance.

We welcome NATO’s work to put its existing Alliance Maritime Strategy (AMS) into action, the EU Maritime Security Strategy (EUMSS) and the corresponding Action Plan, 2050 Africa's Integrated Maritime Strategy as well as the UK and US National Strategies for Maritime Security. These are all milestone documents towards a more secure global maritime domain.

We understand that the causes of maritime crime lie ashore and that crime can be exacerbated by the absence of effective, fair, accountable, and transparent governmental institutions, judicial systems and law enforcement. We reaffirm our commitment to assist in tackling existing shortcomings in this regard. In this light we salute the EU’s comprehensive approach in the Horn of Africa and the EU Strategy and Action Plan on the Gulf of Guinea. We also take note of the Regional Fusion and Law Enforcement Centre for Safety and Security at Sea (REFLECS3) multinational project in the Seychelles.

We welcome and encourage research activities aimed at providing scientific and technological support to enhance maritime security, fostering information sharing and collaboration and, thus, adding to the sustainable use of the global maritime domain.

We support the incorporation of their findings into the development and implementation of maritime security policies, as appropriate. 

We recognize that continued attention to the issue, further action at the international level, and strengthened national, regional and international political will are needed in order to enhance maritime security and the rules-based, sustainable use of the global maritime domain. In light of that, we welcome Germany’s intention to host a G7 High-level Meeting on Maritime Security later this year.

The full statement is available here.