In a new blog post published with Piracy-Studies.org – The Research Portal for Maritime Security I discuss the future of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS). The CGPCS is the core global governance mechanism by which the fight against Somali piracy is coordinated and I have studied it extensively in the frame of the CGPCS lessons learned project. In the blog I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of three options that have been articulated by the international community: Extend the work to cover either other regions, or other threats, or further streamline it. Please read the full blog here.
On December 14th the G7 held a High Level Meeting on Maritime Security under the presidency of Germany. The meeting titled “Enhancing Maritime Security – Connecting Regions – Governing the Commons was a follow up to the Lübeck Declaration on Maritime Security of the G7 Foreign Ministers from April this year. At the one day event over 150 experts discussed four vital themes in maritime security: Maritime domain awareness and information sharing, maritime dispute settlement, illegal fishing, and the role of regional organizations in the provision of maritime security. I had the pleasure to participate in the meeting and chair the roundtable on regional organizations. The roundtable featured representatives from the International Maritime Organization, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, as well as the government of Togo which is currently organizing a major African Union summit on the theme. In the closing discussion I presented a summary of the roundtable themes. I stressed four vital points for furthering the discussion on maritime security.
The Luebeck declaration already highlighted the importance of the global oceans for economic prosperity. Further elaborating the link between maritime security and the blue economy is vital for promoting security at sea. If maritime security stands for the risks presented by the oceans, the blue economy emphasizes its opportunities. Recognizing the economic potential of the sea will enable to address the problem known as “sea blindness” and to present a convincing case to national publics, governments and states, including landlocked states, that maritime security is a priority area that needs investment and the will to cooperate.
Maritime security does not have a clear institutional home. It is an Inter-agency challenge and requires military-civil and inter-sectional cooperation. Stronger institutions at the country, regional as well as global level are required. But there is also the need to better clarify roles and responsibilities of each level. Country ownership is vital, yet, maritime security is a transnational challenge and many states will require assistance through capacity building and technology transfer from the international community. The G7 will continue to play an important role in driving the discussion on the global maritime security architecture forward and clarifying the rules and responsibilities of different national, regional and global institutions.
If maritime security requires better cooperation between states, trust and confidence building mechanisms, in particular at the regional level, are the key. There is clear evidence for the importance of mechanisms which include, but are not limited to, informal governance processes, such as the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, Codes of Conduct, such as those signed in Djibouti and Yaounde, joint exercises, but also intra-regional transfer of skills and technology, through capacity building, training, education and research. These mechanisms should be strengthened to build regional maritime security communities.
The fight against piracy is not over yet. Both the Gulf of Guinea and the situation in the Gulf of Aden will require continued attention and sustained efforts of the international community. The regional maritime security architecture in both regions will need to be strengthened. The participants welcomed the financial contribution of Germany for the implementation of the Yaounde Code of Conduct and the efforts of the government of Togo in preparing the Lome Summit on maritime security and development. In particular the Lome Summit of the African Union to be held next year will be an important milestone for African maritime security and ensuring that all forms of maritime crime in the continents waters will be effectively addressed.
The participants welcomed the strong leadership of the G7. The Luebeck declaration presented an important step for the discourse on maritime security. It was, however, emphasized that if the 21st century is a maritime century, the current discussion can only be the beginning. Sustained efforts in particular on elaborating the future of the global maritime security governance architecture will be required and the dialogue among maritime security experts, including university based scholars, needs to be intensified.
What is the state and future of the African Standby Forces (ASF)? And what should be the main purpose of the forces, peacekeeping, rapid crisis responses, or addressing the broader range of security risks? This was the core theme of the 4th international conference on strategic theory held in Stellenbosch from 16th to 18th September. The event was organized by Stellenbosch University in conjunction with the Royal Danish Defence College and broad together academics, analysts, diplomats and military representatives to discuss the ASF. It quickly emerged that there are quite different viewpoint on the ASF, in particular whether it should be seen as success or failure. From a military viewpoint, the way that the ASF could potentially respond to contemporary crisis situations remains limited. Yet, on the positive side, a substantial number of troops have been trained, and forces have gained much experience in collaboration. In my own contribution to the conference, I asked for the role that the ASF can play in maritime security. I argued for the importance of mainstreaming maritime security and that the issue domain should be part of the discussion of the ASF. The ASF could be a major institutional structure for strengthening maritime security collaboration, in particular for joint law enforcement operations or maritime domain awareness. Further Information and the full conference agenda is available here.
Last week I attended the plenary of the CGPCS at the UN headquarters. I published summaries of the main discussions of the working group meetings and the plenary on the website of the CGPCS. Find them published here. For the first time the plenary has also been recorded and is available on UN web tv (part 1, part 2). During the plenary I gave an update on the Lessons Learned Project and also presented our forthcoming article on the future of the maritime security architecture in the Western Indian Ocean.
In a new comment published on the CIMSEC Blog, I discuss what might be learned from counter-piracy for the current migration crisis in the Mediterranean. I argue that there are at least three major lessons: 1) a Contact Group following the CGPCS model is required that brings all stakeholders together, 2) an operational, information sharing and coordination mechanism that follows the role model of SHADE will improve the response, 3) solutions lie on land and not at sea, hence more efforts will be required to assist the littoral states, notably Lybia.
The website MUNPlanet will be publishing one of my comments on Informal Governance and the Contact Group as part of their “The UN at 70” series. In the comment I address the question of what the meaning of the rise of informal governance are for the UN and what we might want to learn from the CGPCS. Please find the pre-version below.
What can the History of Intellectual Thought contribute to International Relations theory? Clarifying the relation between both projects was the objective of the Annual Political Theory Symposium of the Department of Political Science of the National University of Singapore (NUS). The symposium held on the 19th and 20th of March, brought together a range of key thinkers in the History of International Thought. There was some thought provoking insights for the Sociology of International Relations, too. Continue reading
Tomorrow, July 25th, marks the first African Day of Seas and Oceans. To raise awareness for African maritime security and the importance of the AIMS strategy, I have published a short comment with The Conversation. It is titled “Why fighting pirates in African waters is crucial to our security” and available here.
I posted a new blog on the Piracy Studies website. The blog investigates the reasons for the emergence and decline of piracy off Somalia and asks whether piracy has been eradicated. I argue that optimism is valid, but significant efforts to work towards good maritime security governance off the East African coast will be needed.