This week the industry fair MAST Northern Coasts was held in Copenhagen, bringing a range of international naval and industry representatives to the city. The exhibition was accompanied by a small conference at which I had the pleasure to give a talk on maritime domain awareness (MDA). Drawing on the research on MDA in different regions, I looked into the questions of what is difficult in implementing MDA and why we don’t see the emergence of a Baltic regional MDA structure.
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
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.
In the end of January I had the pleasure to visit Singapore to attend two events on maritime security in Southeast Asia organised by the Maritime Security Programme of RSIS. The first event was a a strategic review and an outlook into the prospective developments in 2019. Particular attention was paid to the question of how the geo-strategic environment influences the region, and what the prospects for a rule-based ocean governance regime in the near future holds.
The second event focussed on Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). MDA is often considered to be one of the keys for addressing maritime insecurity as it provides the knowledge and understanding for policy, institutional reforms as well as operational responses. The one day event had the objective to review the state of MDA on a national and regional level. Participants agreed about the value of MDA, but identified quite significant hurdles to achieve better knowledge of the sea.
In my opening talk at the event I introduced our work on key guidelines for MDA in the frame of the Safeseas network. I summarized some of the promises and argued that many of the known hurdles can be overcome through institutional procedures. The slides of the talk are available here.
The 6th annual legal conference of the NATO Centre of Excellence on Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters (COE CSW) legal conference took place in Copenhagen, Denmark from the 25 to 27th of September. More than 130 naval officers, attorneys, and professors from 30 countries across the globe discussed contemporary maritime issues including cyber threats, self-defense, ocean conservation and marine pollution, and regional security challenges. I had the pleasure to participate in the events.
From the 12th to the 15th of September the European International Studies Association (EISA) held its annual meeting in Prague. At the conference I presented a series of work in progress, including thoughts on post-critical expertise and the relation of experimentation and problematisation, a new project on Making Maritime Security Strategy (MAMAS). I also attended a rountable on the English School and the recently published SAGE Handbook of the History, Philosophy and Sociology of International Relations.
On January 31st, I gave a lecture to the staff and students of the Military Academy of South Africa. Drawing on the core insights from SAFESEAS, in particular, the current draft of the best practice toolkit and the recent article in International Affairs, I contextualized maritime security and spoke about the dedicated challenges of it. I addressed the experiences with maritime security strategies, inter-agency challenges as well as the promises and perils of information sharing and maritime domain awareness.