Christian Bueger

Discussion on methodology at University of Frankfurt

Today I had the pleasure to be a guest at a seminar on pragmatist research in International Relations, led by Gunther Hellmann. Based on readings of some of my texts on practices and pirates, we debated questions, such as the relation between neo-classical and neo pragmatism, what it means to center analyses in practice, the importance of concepts, and in how far methods based on pragmatist assumptions need to be controlled.

Workshop on the E3 in the Indo Pacific

What is the future role of the E3 – France, Germany and the United Kingdom – in the Indo Pacific region? This was the core question explored at an online expert workshop on 22.6. organized by four think tanks from the three countries. The focus was on two areas: 1) maritime security and 2) climate change and environmental policy.

The workshop participants discussed what the major challenges in these two areas are and whether and how the E3 would be the right format to take concerted action.

In my own contribution I stressed the importance of not narrowing down maritime security in the Indo-Pacific to inter-state affairs, but to pay full attention to the wider spectrum, in particular counter-terrorism and the fight against blue crimes, such as piracy, smuggling, illegal fishing and pollution. It is these problems where the E3 can make a major impact, rather than investing the majority of resource in signaling and freedom of navigation operations. I recalled the 2015 Luebeck Declaration on Maritime Security by the G7 which strikes a useful balance in terms of the different maritime security challenges.

I also stressed that any role for the E3 needs to be seen in the light of the European Union’s recent Indo Pacific Strategy, as well as the current experiments of the European Union in establishing Coordinated Maritime Presences as a new concept, at the moment tested in the Gulf of Guinea. How the UK can contribute to a future coordinated maritime EU presence in the Indo Pacific is the crucial question that needs to be addressed. Another institutional question is certainly in how far any response should be rather coordinated and carried out in the frame of NATO or the G7 rather than the mini-lateral E3 format.

The second session focused on climate change policies and highlighted in particular energy policy and decarbonization as ongoing coordination challenges. As the discussion revealed climate change and maritime security need to be seen as a inter-linked policy fields, in terms of the emissions from naval forces, new challenges for maritime security caused by climate change, as well as the importance of maritime security forces in enforcing environmental regulations at sea and securing biodiversity in particular in the face of disasters such as oil spills.

Is global shipping in crisis?

Yesterday I had the opportunity to discuss in Al Jazeera’s Inside Story show the current situation in shipping. The global shipping industry is under significant stress at the moment due to the ongoing pandemic with adverse effect on global supply chains. In the show we were discussing what to do about this situation and the larger implications of our dependency on the global transport infrastructure and how it is regulated.

Workshop on Standardization in Global Governance

On the 14th and 15th of June I had the pleasure to attend a workshop that illuminated different forms of standardization processes in global governance with a particular focus on standards of “good governance”. The workshop was organised by Jens Steffek, Technical University of Darmstadt, in collaboration with the Centre for Global Cooperation Research.

At the workshop I discussed the curious case of “best practices’ and how they emerged as a new way of how to conduct standardization. I offered a range of explanations for the impressive proliferation of best practices.

What is the state of the EU’s maritime security strategy?

The Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU has made quite some efforts to lift maritime security higher on the agenda of the EU. To reflect on the state of EU maritime security provision, Portugal organized a mini away day of the EU Military Committee on 2 June 2021.

I had the pleasure to speak at the event alongside the keynote speaker Mr Kitack Lim, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization, and the Portuguese Special Representative for Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea.

In my talk I reviewed the current strategy choices of the EU. I highlighted a number of current challenges, which includes in what kind of command structures the EU operates abroad to address piracy and other blue crimes, the relationship to NATO’s work on maritime security, and the issues linked to the Brexit process.

I also argued for the need to pay more attention to arising matters, including the environmental security agenda at sea, the consequences of climate change, and the importance of subsea data cables.

I concluded in suggesting to revisit the EU Maritime Security Strategy and calling for an open dialogue with NATO on the matter.

Attending SHADE: The key military coordination mechanism in the Western Indian Ocean

The Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) mechanism is a brainchild of the responses to piracy off the coast of Somalia. It is the key instrument through which the various navies coordinate each others activities and arrange for the International Coordinated Transit Corridor, and convoys and patrols in the Western Indian Ocean region. It is also the main mechanism through which the transport industry and navies collaborate on a strategic level. The successful coordination in SHADE is one of the key factors explaining the decline of Somali piracy.

On the 27th of May, the 48th SHADE meeting took place as usually held in Bahrain. This time it was complemented by an online participation platform through which I had the honor to address the participants.

At the meeting, I presented some of the key insights from the SafeSeas survey of regional maritime security alignments in the Indo Pacific. I provided an overview and emphasized that institutional proliferation is problematic. In consequence, SHADE must ask how it sits in this environment, and how it wants to continue its work in the long run.

This is ever more important as SHADE in the meantime is a platform for discussing various maritime security issues. As reflected in the presentations at the meeting this includes, illegal fishing, smuggling, or the security situations around the Yemeni coast and Strait of Hormuz.

EU-China Expert Meeting on Maritime Security

On the 26th and 27th of May, I had the pleasure to attend the 2nd expert meeting of the EU and China on maritime security organized by the European External Action Service in collaboration with the National Institute for South CHina Sea Studies.

The first session centered on different interpretations of the Indo-Pacific as a recent regional construct and how the EU is planning to engage with the region in the framework of its new Indo-Pacific strategy. The second session focused on the Indian Ocean and the challenges linked to blue crime. In my contribution to this session, I stressed the importance of taking a holistic understanding and paying attention to the inter-linkages between blue crimes and the associated problem of institutional proliferation in the region. I also flagged climate change and submarine data cable protection as two vital future issues on the maritime security agenda, and new fields for EU-China collaboration.

The second day focused on the South China Sea and on identifying pathways for better collaboration in the area.

What are the root causes of maritime piracy? A SafeSeas Webinar

What the root causes of maritime piracy are and how they can be addressed through external assistance remains one of the most pertinent questions of maritime security policy. This was the core problem that we addressed in a recent SafeSeas webinar.

The event centered around the recently published book “Piratelands. Governance and Maritime Piracy” by Ursula Daxecker and Brandon Prins (Oxford University Press). In addition to the authors, four commentators contributed to the debate: Stig Jarle Hansen, Anja Shortland, Jessica Larsen, and myself.

In my contribution, I stressed the importance of thinking local and paying more attention to the sub-national level of root causes, the need to better understand the inter-linkages of blue crimes, as well as working towards predictive models that can tell us what to do now to prevent the rise of the pirates of tomorrow.

A video recording of the event is available on the SafeSeas Youtube Channel. Follow the channel for future events.

Climate Change & Cables: Presentation at UK Maritime Threat Group

On the 22nd of April I had the pleasure to give a presentation together with Tim Edmunds at the UK Maritime Threat Group. In the presentation we introduced the work and main findings of SafeSeas. In my part of the presentation I particularly flagged questions of the impact of climate change on maritime security as well as the importance of submarine data cables drawing on our recently published article.

A summary and discussion of the presentation is available on the SafeSeas website.

Annual Conference of the International Studies Association (ISA)

From the 6th to the 9th of April I am attending the annual conference of the ISA. The conference which continues to be the main meeting place for scholars in International Relations is fully virtual this year. I am giving short presentations at three different roundtables which concern key themes that I am concerned about theoretically at the moment.

The first roundtable, organised by Simon Pratt from the (U Bristol) and Rebecca Adler-NIssen (U Copenhagen) discusses how we can better study implicit and tacit knowledge and how the concept of “folk theory” might be useful to do so.

The second roundtable is a discussion on the potential of international political design. Design is here understood as redirecting social science towards the making of a diverse range of objects, and going beyond written text. Given my interests in working with practitioners, co-production, the design discourse provides interesting new directions. The roundtable is organized by Jon Austin and Anna Leander (Graduate Institute, Geneva).

The third roundtable that Filippo Costa Brunelli (St Andrews) and I have organized concerns the informalization of world politics. Scholars from different corners of International Relations will reflect on their work on informality, when and how global governors and statesmen turn to informal forums, such as the G groups, or world conferences, and what the consequences of this shift is. At the roundtable I will talk about my long term research with the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), which is a paradigmatic case of a contemporary informal governance mechanism.