From the 21st to 27th of July I attended a training course on Civil-Military Approaches for Maritime Security organised by the Institute for Security Governance, in Monterey, CA. The course is part of the US capacity building work on maritime security and taught since 2008. As part of the course I delivered a module on maritime domain awareness, relying on my 2015 article on Maritime Domain Awareness in Southeast Asia as well as the results of the SafeSeas Best Practice Toolkit and the model of maritime security governance it outlines. I also reviewed the core ideas behind Maritime Domain Awareness, and discussed with the participants the core hindrances to information sharing.
On the 12th and 13th of July I attended a workshop in Frankfurt which had the objective to explore the different contributions the recent book by Fritz Kratochwil makes to different social science debate. In Praxis: On Acting and Knowing, published in 2018, Kratochwil presents a new reading of political practices based on a discussion of Aristotle, Hume and Wittgenstein. The book explores different kinds of international practices drawing on a wide set of examples drawing mainly from international law.
Participants explored different aspects of the book and how it is linked to questions of international systems and differentiation, temporality, history and change, and in what ways it offers a new way of theorizing. In my own contribution I investigated what style of theorizing the book offers, pointing to its practice of building associations. I also asked what the methodological consequences of such an understanding of theorizing are.
What are the consequence of a relational understanding of knowledge for how we organize expertise and policy advice? This was the core question of the talk that I gave at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt on the 11th of July. Drawing on Steve Woolgar’s critique of romantic understandings of knowledge transfer, I outlined the theory of epistemic infrastructures and how a focus on epistemic practices and problematic situations provides new directions for scholarly action.
As part of an ongoing collaboration between the University of Sydney and the University of Copenhagen, I organised together with the Center for Global Criminology an ideaslab on maritime security on the 27th of June. Titled “Insecurity, Crime and Cooperation at Sea”: New Perspectives on Maritime Security” the goal of the day was to explore different ideas from international relations, security studies, and anthropology of how our thinking changes if we initiate inquiry from the sea and not the land.
The day provided an opportunity to exchange views on why and how the maritime is a site and a view point from which to explore the social and political differently. In the background was the observation that the majority of social science disciplines have focused on the land and rather ignored the sea. What has been called “sea blindness”, however, is gradually changing. Increasingly the sea is not taken as an empty void, but understood as a rich space filled with meaning, actions and life. Emerging research challenges the land/sea dichotomy and is interested in connectivity, flows and chokepoints, piracy and other forms of maritime crime, or ports and maritime infrastructures. The six presentations of the day picked up these themes respectively.Continue reading
What are the costs and benefits of thinking in terms of an Indo-Pacific region? Why do certain actors advocate to strategize in those terms? On June the 3rd and 4th I had the pleasure to attend a conference in Paris that discussed these questions. The conference was organised jointly by IRSEM, Science Po, the University of Cambridge and GIGA.
My own presentation was titled “More than a sum of its parts? Networked maritime security and the fabrication of the Indo-Pacific”. In the presentation I drew attention to the scalar politics of the Indo-Pacific pointing in particular to the political effects the fabrication of the Indo-Pacific region has in terms of how it limits agency to states with blue water naval capacities, and how it undermines regional cooperation. Contact me if you are interested in the full presentation.
On May 28th we had the pleasure to co-host a strategy meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) in Copenhagen. Held in association with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Danish Shipping and the Indian Ocean Commission the main objective of the meeting was to discuss the future strategy of the group. The discussion was based on a report that I have written together with Jessica Larsen from the Danish Institute of International Studies.Continue reading
Singapore is host to one of the most successful initiatives for sharing information and developing maritime domain awareness on a regional level. The Information Fusion Centre (known as IFC) operated by the Singaporean navy has become a global template for how to improve the flow of maritime information, conduct solid analysis of activities and trends at sea, but also to react rapidly to any maritime incident across borders and jurisdictions.
On the 14th of May the IFC celebrated its 10th anniversary. At the celebration it also launched the new information sharing platform of the centre. The celebration was part of the annual exercise MARISX.
I had the opportunity to attend the event as an observer. Following my earlier visits to the IFC in 2018 and 2015 (see my article on the IFC here), I could for the first time see the exercise in action. MARISX brought together participants from ASEAN navies and coastguards, and various international partners, including Australia, China, Germany, India, Seychelles, the UK or the US. For three days participants had the opportunity to try out the brand new IFC Real-time Information-sharing System (IRIS) to address real life scenarios, such as illegal fishing, illegal migration or piracy incidents. The participants also discussed how such incidents can be better managed jointly using the platform. A number of national operational centers (OPCENs) from different countries participated remotely in the exercise. Also representatives from the shipping industry, including the Singapore Shipping Association or Intertanko, as well as international organisations such as Interpol and UNODC contributed to the event.Continue reading
The Djibouti Code of Conduct remains one of the major agreements in the Western Indian Ocean to strengthen regional cooperation in maritime security bringing countries from Africa and the Arabian Peninsula together. Initially only focused on piracy, the Code’s focus area was extended through the 2017 Jeddah Amendments to cover all types of maritime crimes. From the 23rd to 25th of April representatives from the signatory states and the Friends of the Djibouti Code of Conduct met in Saudi Arabia to review the current progress and discuss priorities in implementation. At the event I chaired a panel on the nature of maritime crimes, and gave two short presentations.
As part of the biennial naval exercise Aman, the Pakistani government is organizing an International Maritime Conference. This years iteration had the theme “Global Geopolitics in Transition: Rethinking Maritime Dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region”. As part of the conference I gave a keynote address on the second day of the event. I argued that Pakistan needs to peer towards the Western Indian Ocean, rather then rely on a broader regional construct and then asked what is the right security architecture for that region. Further information on the conference is available here. Download a copy of my talk here, or read it below. Continue reading
From the 28th to the 30th of January the UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme organised two events to identify new challenges and opportunities for countries to respond to maritime insecurity.
The first event discussed with representatives from the Indian Ocean region how the 190 parties to the 1988 ‘United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances’ can make better use of Article 17 which address illicit traffic at sea and prescribes how suspicious vessels can be boarded on the high seas. Participants highlighted in particular the need for better information sharing and working points of contact, but also the value of bilateral and regional MoU.
The second event addressed one of the core gaps in the current ocean regimes, namely how to protect undersea data cables from organised crime. Data cables are one of the most important infrastructures of today’s digital economy, but no legal provisions exist so far how on how crime against them could be prosecuted. The meeting called for ongoing work in this area by UNODC in collaboration with other stakeholders.