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The IGAD Taskforce on the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden was established following a Resolution of the 46th Ordinary Session of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers held on February 27, 2019, in Djibouti to create awareness about advancing regional cohesion, coordination, cooperation and the possibilities for IGAD’s regional economic integration.

Through the twenty-one (21) Taskforce members – three representatives from each IGAD Member State, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda – IGAD continues to carry out the 46th IGAD Council of Ministers Resolution with financial assistance from the European Union, Finland, and Norway. The Taskforce meets on a quarterly basis in accordance with its Terms of Reference and is co-chaired by the IGAD Special Envoy for the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, Ambassador Mohamed Ali Guyo (Ph.D.).

The Taskforce is responsible for:

formulating policies and strategies on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, including the development of a common IGAD position on the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden arena;
charting a Regional Plan of Action with clear timelines;
drafting IGAD Convention on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden;
undertaking policy-oriented research; and
creating awareness on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, as specified in the aforesaid Communique.

The Taskforce marks an important paradigm shift that necessitates the willpower and determination of the leaders of the IGAD Member States. It is called multilateralism. But it is more about regional cohesion, coordination, and it’s well fitted to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden arena, Amb. Guyo commented.

Interviewed in Naivasha, Kenya, a member of the taskforce told how the establishment of the IGAD Taskforce is giving them an opportunity to secure the interest of the IGAD Member States in an arena characterised by waste dumping, piracy, illegal fishing, arms smuggling and drug trafficking. “The main aim has been to protect the interest of littoral and non-littoral IGAD Member States in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden arena, Amb. Babikir, a representative of the Republic of Sudan and chair of IGAD, said.

“We can now engage with experts from the region and beyond to discuss and suggest policy recommendations aimed at informing the development of a common IGAD position, a Regional Plan of Action, and an IGAD Convention, as well as raise awareness of the importance of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden arena,” Amb. Babikir said. “People needed to have the knowledge and confidence to deliberate on the challenges and opportunities,” he emphasised.

Mr. Sebsibe, a Taskforce Member from Ethiopia, added that arms smuggling, transnational crimes, drug trafficking and protracted peace processes were among the main problems facing the Taskforce, as well as climate refugees. The struggles over border and land disputes are other sources of tension in the region.

According to Amb. Yusuf-Garaad, the experts roundtable dialogue workshop had enabled participants to acquire knowledge, and learn about progress made in the implementation of the IGAD Red Sea and Gulf of Aden mandate, including the IGAD Declaration of Principles on the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and the changing attitudes on the geostrategic importance of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, which was not the case before the establishment of the IGAD Taskforce.”

The IGAD will continue to support regular experts technical roundtable dialogue on the dynamics of the Red Sea and its potential implications with the aim of improving the maritime policy environment in the Horn of Africa through strengthening regional exchanges, cohesion, cooperation, and coordination in the Red Sea arena.

Monday, March 27, 2023


Walter Ochanda

IGAD Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Somalia

IGAD press end


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