From Politicization to Securitization of Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea

Abstract

EU’s Energy security and trade depend, to a large extent, on sea-based transport relying on open sea lines of communication and Maritime Security. The Gulf of Guinea (GoG) region has supplied 13 per cent of oil and six per cent of total EU28 consumption. Between 2003 and January 2015, piracy in the GoG accounted for 31 per cent of attacks (616 of 1,965) in African waters. With that proportion on the rise and a growing threat related to Piracy, illegal over-fishing and crude oil theft; maritime (in)security in the region is attracting attention from regional and international governments and bodies.

In this context, and considering politicization as a more extreme version or a step to securitization, this paper analyses how an issue is brought up to the level of security by a speech act, namely, explaining how issues are politicized and securitized within the maritime domain and what strategies are involved.

A number of institutions are currently acting to secure the Gulf of Guinea with growing co-operation between the region and extra-regional actors. However, the lack of capabilities, weak governance within the region and the willingness to take action from extra-regional actors have undermined the securitization, and thus, the Gulf of Guinea has remained politicized.

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