The Programme


Maritime governance encapsulates maritime sectors' strategic management and regulatory oversight, including port and vessel operations. It entails formulating and enforcing policies, allocating resources, and supervising maritime activities to ensure safety, security, efficiency, and environmental sustainability. Central to fostering global trade and regional economic development, effective maritime governance prioritizes the safeguarding of life, assets, and the marine ecosystem while promoting orderly and lawful maritime conduct. This holistic approach harmonizes stakeholder interests, ensuring the maritime domain's contribution to sustainable global prosperity.

The Maritime Governance team, an expanding pillar within UNITAR's Division for Peace, is set to be based in the upcoming Brussels office. It focuses on enhancing safety and security in seaports, aboard ships, and coastal waters. Aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the unit offers innovative solutions, including safety and security training, equipment provision, capacity building, and knowledge sharing to support seaports, ships, administrative port areas extending into coastal zones, and ministerial authorities at the national level.

UNITAR's Maritime Governance training projects empower port and ship management and personnel within both the public and private sectors to comprehend the risks associated with port operations and to develop effective strategies to mitigate those risks. In terms of safety, port governance training encompasses the implementation of preventive measures to avert accidents and incidents. Regarding security, it involves training on countermeasures to address threats such as terrorism, piracy, drug and human trafficking, illegal fishing, wildlife trafficking, and theft.

UNITAR's Maritime Governance projects are dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for individuals, by advancing the Sustainable Development Goals within the maritime domain. Significant initiatives are underway in the Gulf of Guinea, encompassing West, East and Central Africa, the Indo-Pacific, and the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) operational area based in Bahrain includes the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Gulf of Oman and Aden regions, with additional projects poised for launch.


Globally, nations grapple with multifaceted maritime security challenges, including piracy, cyber threats, smuggling, terrorism, human trafficking, pollution, illegal fishing, and territorial disputes, which can significantly disrupt international shipping and impact economies. The critical need for robust maritime security is underscored by the vulnerability of many ports ill-equipped to manage these evolving risks, particularly in the face of emerging cybersecurity threats and climate change impacts. Ensuring the seamless flow of global trade necessitates a comprehensive and adaptive approach to fortify maritime infrastructure against these diverse and intensifying threats.


The Maritime Governance team is committed to bolstering safety and enhancing preventive security measures, through proactive initiatives, aimed at forestalling incidents before they occur. Our strategic goal is to elevate the maritime surveillance capabilities of national authorities, utilizing advanced technologies, such as optical drones, for the early detection of maritime threats and the swift deployment of counteractions. A key objective includes the meticulous documentation of detected violations, in a manner that is admissible as evidence, paving the way for the enforcement of legal measures and the safeguarding of critical maritime infrastructure.

Adherence to updated regulations and international standards is crucial for maritime authorities to prevent incidents and manage associated risks effectively. This commitment not only enhances operational efficiency but also contributes to developing an international reputation, which promotes global trade. These elements are integral to the foundation of sound maritime governance. Concurrently, UNITAR is dedicated to refining institutional frameworks and promoting interagency and international collaboration to mitigate maritime and cyber risks, thereby ensuring a secure and stable maritime environment. UNITAR collaborates with ports, private sector stakeholders, and various maritime agencies to bolster their resilience against contemporary threats and risks. This collaboration is realized through a comprehensive suite of support services, including training programs, coaching and mentoring, governance advisory, equipment provision, and a range of courses and eLearning opportunities, all designed to foster a robust maritime governance framework.


Ports Governance Project in the Gulf of Guinea, West and Central Africa:

Enhancing resilience to safety and security risks by implementing innovative training initiatives aimed at preventing safety and security incidents. The main objective of this project is to contribute to reducing the vulnerability of ports in West and Central Africa by strengthening the protection of port activities against risks in terms of both safety and port security, namely by building the capacities of civil and port actors. The specific objectives are to strengthen the capacities of port, administrative and private actors in the field of the development, implementation and evaluation of emergency plans in terms of port safety and security; to strengthen the capacities of port players in the prevention of security risks - in particular within the framework of the ISPS Code; to strengthen capacities in port crisis management; to build capacity in the area of dangerous goods management and marine pollution response and finally to raise the awareness of judicial police officers on the risks of attacks in the maritime domain and strengthen their capacities in terms of targeting and control of a risk vector, intelligence sharing and crime scene management. UNITAR coordinates and manages this project together with the local partner ISMI (Interregional Maritime Security Institute).

Maritime Governance Project in Malaysia:

Provision of drones and developing a drone unit for the Malaysian Coast Guard (MMEA) as support for improved maritime surveillance. The overall strategic objective is to improve the capabilities of the Malaysian maritime authorities in maritime surveillance using optical drones to detect maritime threats at an early stage and initiate countermeasures. In addition, the aim is to document detected offences in an evidence-proof manner and to initiate law enforcement measures, especially by the Coast Guard. Those measures also serve to protect critical infrastructure. The main objective is to provide the MMEA with optical drones and to develop a dedicated drone unit in the establishment plan as a professional unit responsible for monitoring and carrying out actions in port areas, coastal waters and on the high seas to enforce laws and regulations. UNITAR manages the overall coordination, monitoring and follow-up of the project to reach the following objectives: to assist in establishing the institutional framework of the Drone Unit, the creation of the Drone department, and the procurement and delivery of the drones. Finally, the project also aims to enhance Interagency and International cooperation possibilities and establish a national maritime coordination mechanism, which will increase its future engagement and create synergies in the Indo-Pacific region.


Christophe Van Maele – UNITAR:

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