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TRANSCRIPT: Ambassador Johnnie Carson Addresses Shared Global Challenges of Maritime Safety and Security
Ambassador Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, provided opening remarks to a conference of African, U.S. and European partners October 13, 2010, at the Millennium Hotel in Stuttgart, Germany. <br /> <br />The two-day
Ambassador Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, provided opening remarks to a conference of African, U.S. and European partners October 13, 2010, at the Millennium Hotel in Stuttgart, Germany. The two-day conference on Maritime Safety and Security: Towards Economic Prosperity, co-sponsored by the U.S. Departments of State and Defense and hosted by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), concentrated on forging partnerships, identifying projects that support maritime security activities, and strengthening collaborative strategies. Carson addresses the shared global challenges of Africa maritime safety and security. He also focused on six key maritime functions and noted their inter-dependency of each other. The following is a transcript of the ambassador's remarks. Vicki thank you very, very much for that kind introduction. After all of those remarkable words, my speech is going to be a little bit flat. But I appreciate very much the kindness of the remarks. It has been a pleasure also to work with you. Like Vicki, I am extraordinarily pleased to be here this morning to co-host this conference on Maritime Security. I also would like this opportunity to broadly recognize all the participants who are here in this audience and to thank all you for joining us this morning your presence and the work that you do across the continent, in Europe, America, and Asia is extraordinarily important for Africa as well as the global community. I also want to take a moment to thank General Ward and his team at the U.S. Africa Command for their work in hosting and co-organizing this conference. The excellent work that General Ward and his team at AFRICOM does every day on the ground is significant and important in helping to build strong ties between the United States government and the militaries of Africa. I think General Ward has done a simply outstanding job here as the first commander of AFRICOM and his work has set a high bar for all of those who follow him. Let me get to the essence of why we are here this morning. During his address to the United Nations last month President Obama said, "We know this is no ordinary time for our people. Each of us comes here with our own problems and own priorities. But there are also challenges that we share in common as leaders and as nations." Today, we are here to address the shared global challenge of maritime safety and security. Maritime security is an area where U.S. and Africans have converge interests. The United States and Africa have extraordinary long coast lines that have enormous economic potential and wealth and that serve as arteries for transportation and international trade. The United States and Africa have a common interest in fostering sustained economic growth and development ensuring the movement of goods on the strategically important transportation corridors off the African coast, protecting the environment, maintaining port security and infrastructure, preventing illegal fishing, improving security of off shore oil installations, and addressing illicit transnational activities. All of these issues are of growing importance to an Africa that is economically vibrant and assuming a more prominent role in as member of the global community. An expansion in the level of international trade over the last few decades has highlighted the importance of the maritime sector in the global economy. Estimates suggest that more than 90 percent of global trade is transported by sea lanes. Maritime economic activity extends beyond the international transport of goods to national revenue generating activities that include fishing and aquaculture, recreation and tourism, as well as the extraction of non-renewable marine-based resources, all of these are major revenue generating activities for the commercial, for the private-commercial sector as well as for maritime states. Maritime economic activity can be a critical source of income for also local communities. Maritime insecurity is a threat not only to economic growth, but also to national and regional security and stability as well. The maritime domain is vulnerable, vulnerable to a wide array of threats, to include illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; environmental degradation; smuggling; trafficking in persons; piracy; proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and aggressive actions, to include extremism and terrorism. These maritime threats all have significant land-based dimensions, whether they are related to the origin of the threat, or the land-based capabilities required for preventive or enforcement. As a result, land-based actors and capabilities are as important to maritime security as the sea-based actors and are capabilities. In an environment as complex and as diverse as the maritime realm it is tempting sometimes tempting for institutions and governments to view a particular problem as outside of their jurisdiction. Many actors with an important stake in maritime matters do not consider themselves maritime institutions. The unfortunate result is a lack of coherence in and the approach to the maritime sector and related reform activities. It is absolutely critical to recognize that maritime safety and security is a cross-cutting issue. And looking broadly across the maritime sector most experts have identified six functions that are essential for careful management, protection, and promotion of sound maritime economic and commercial security practices. These six functions are: governance, civil and criminal authority, defense, safety, response and recovery, and the economy. These functions are complementary and frequently inter-dependent; gaps in one area may have a significant impact on outcomes in another. I would like to briefly comment on these six different maritime functions. First, effective governance is critical to the management of the maritime sector if governance is weak or absent at the national level this will be reflected in the type of laws and regulations put in place to protect the nation's maritime and marine interest. Maritime governance at the national, sub-regional, and regional levels is essential to support, regulate, and protect maritime viability. Second, maritime civil and criminal authority includes the broad array of civil and criminal justice-related activities required to support rule of law in the maritime domain. Separating the various responsibilities of maritime civil and criminal authorities is not an easy task. Though maritime authorities may act as police on and near the water, at other times they may perform functions more closely related to customs and border control. Institutions enforcing maritime civil and criminal authority must be able to cooperate effectively with other government structures. Third, maritime defense includes the capabilities for the effective detection, deterrence and interdiction of aggressive acts against a state's sovereignty, assets and infrastructure. A maritime defense organization, by its very size and power, may also bring challenges to the maritime arena. It may influence or compete with other maritime security institutions for resources, jurisdiction, and personnel. These same defense organizations, whether navies or coast guards, are also often the agency called upon by government to mobilize in response to natural disasters, humanitarian crises, or other national disasters, humanitarian crisis, or other national emergencies. Fourth, the fourth function is maritime safety. In addition to natural hazards, potential dangers arise from unregulated or illegal activity and unsafe practices. Thus, it is crucial that one over arching authorities hold clear responsibility for ensuring maritime safety. Effective maritime safety relies on skilled personnel capably complying with and enforcing applicable promulgated standards and regulations. Fifth, maritime response and recovery encompasses the capabilities required to mitigate, and investigate hazards and emergency incidents. Maritime response and recovery entities protect economic interests, natural resources and critical national infrastructure from maritime-related incidents and hazards. And finally, maritime issues are critical to sustained economic growth, commerce, business, and the overall well being of every state. Even landlocked countries depend on the maritime access of their neighbors for the growth of their own economies. This is particularly true for Africa which has the second largest land-lock state in the world and a significant number of other land-lock nations. A state's ability to guarantee safe and secure maritime conditions is important to the health of its overall economy as well as that of the region. I want encourage you to keep these six maritime functions in mind over the next two days as you listen to the great line-up of plenary speakers and experts especially during your breakout sessions. No one function is independent of the others and they are complementary and inter-dependent. When we first began to explore the concept of this maritime conference, we had a few goals in mind. First, we wanted to build on past maritime conferences by expanding the scope and level of the participation in an effort to further identify areas of support or complementary activity in the maritime sector. Second, we wanted to provide a forum for the interaction among policymakers and non-traditional Maritime Safety and Security stakeholders to identify and discuss the common cross-sector maritime security strategies for sustained capacity building and economic development. Thirdly, we wanted to reinforce cooperation in the implementation of ongoing Africa-led strategies for maritime safety and security. And finally, we wanted to identify possible areas for future collaboration with maritime stakeholders who are in this room. I am pleased that we have such a diverse and large group of participants here this morning because the quality of a conference is entirely dependent on those who are participating. And we have some excellent participants here this morning. We look forward to engaging all of the maritime stakeholders who are present and we look forward to working with you in developing new strategies for co-operation. Sustainability must be a fundamental component to our collective work here today. We need to evolve our maritime engagement in Africa away from individual, isolated efforts to a more comprehensive and sustained approach. By enhancing our partners' maritime enforcement capabilities, we can assist African efforts to develop maritime forces we can deter illegal activities like: piracy, illegal dumping, illegal immigration, and trafficking. We can also help to enhance and protect Africa's ability to gain maximum benefit out of the resources that come with being coastal nations. A great deal of work has been done already on maritime safety and security. We want to reinforce cooperation in the implementation of ongoing Africa-led strategies for maritime activities. I am thankful to His Excellency Dr. Erastus Mwencha, the Africa Union Commission's Deputy Chairperson, for his participation and willingness to provide the keynote address today. I am also extremely grateful as I have also said for all of your participation. I hope we will use the next two days to develop the kinds of strategies that will help to strengthen Africa's capacity to take maximum benefit of the resources that come from being costal nations. That concludes my remarks. But let me know that this opportunity to introduce our keynote speaker for this morning. We are extraordinarily please to have with us Dr. Mwencha, who is known very widely across the African continent. Not only in his capacity as the deputy chair person of the AU but also as one of Africa's leading economist, one of the continent's leading and pioneering trade experts, and also as specialist in economic development. Prior to assuming his position as deputy chair person of the African Union commission in 2008, Dr. Mwencha served for nearly a decade as the head of COMESA, Africa's largest economic and trade organization. As the head of COMESA, he spearheaded many of the regional economic reforms that have underpinned Africa's recent and continual economic growth. He also was responsible for pushing all kinds of policy reforms that helped to break down the trade barriers which were inhibiters to commercial trade between African countries. Prior to working at COMESA, he was the head of the PTA, the Preferential Trade Authority, which is the precursor to COMESA where he distinguished himself by his expertise and leadership in promoting regional trade. It is a great pleasure for me to be on this podium with Dr. Mwencha. He clearly is one of the continent's leaders in promoting trade and development and strengthen the regional capacity of Africa. Dr. Mwencha it is a pleasure to have you with us and it is a pleasure to have you open and keynote this conference thank-you.