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.
At the 2017 Our Oceans Conference, Seychelles president Danny Faure announced that the country would soon begin drafting a maritime security strategy:
“Maritime security is an extremely important component of the sustainable development of the ocean economy. One of the expected results of the blue economy strategy is greater protection for Seychelles’ ocean space and resources through better coordination across different sectors, application of protective measures and greater use of surveillance and enforcement tools. This is certainly a formidable challenge for a SIDS like Seychelles. But, because of our limited and competing resources, it is particularly important that we have a well thought-out maritime security strategy”.
On December 15th the governmental working group that will draft the Seychelles Comprehensive Maritime Security Strategy held its inaugural meeting. At the meeting, I gave a short briefing on the lessons from other maritime security strategies for Seychelles. I also introduced some of the results of the project SafeSeas so the research outcomes can inform the planning process.
On the 6th of December, I contributed to a symposium on illegal fishery in Seychelles waters and the wider Western Indian Ocean region. Titled “Stopping Illegal Fishing: Protecting the ‘Blue Gold’ of Seychelles” the objective of the event was to raise awareness for the problem and to offer a platform for the policy dialogue on how to improve a national and regional multi-agency response. Given Seychelles’ status as a regional and global leader in ocean governance, it is important that the country continues to be pro-active in this important security and development matter.
The event was co-organised by the Blue Economy Research Institute, the James Mancham Center for Peace and Security, both from the University of Seychelles and my project SafeSeas. Speakers at the event represent the Seychelles Blue Economy department, the Seychelles Fishing Authority, Seychelles Fishing Boat Owner Association, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission as well Fish-I Africa. I offered some introductory remarks and chaired one of the two panels.
In my introductory remarks, I stressed that contemporary ocean governance is best appreciated through four conceptual lenses: 1) maritime security, 2) blue economy, 3( ocean health, and 4) blue justice. Each of these agendas are often seen as seperate. Yet, the problem of illegal fishery documents well how all of these hang together. Fisheries, is a major resource in the blue economy, in order to generate revenue from it, it needs to be sustainably managed, and fish require healthy oceans. Sustainable fisheries, raises major distributive justice questions, namely who is to fish how much where and when? Do the revenues go to international cooperations, to the state, or to the small-scale, artisanal professional fishermen or the amateur fishermen. Finally, fisheries is also a security problem. We have learned that organised criminals combine their illicit activities, such as smuggling with illegal fisheries, and we have learned from Somalia that illegal fisheries can create grievances and provide the justifications for engaging in crime.
From the 9th to the 11th of November we held our first SAFESEAS workshop at the University of Stellenbosch. With participants from Djibouti, Kenya, Pakistan, Seychelles, South Africa and the UK we discussed our first results of our research on maritime security governance and maritime capacity building. The workshop revealed the power of comparison and we discussed how different countries develop responses to the challenges of maritime security, such as its cross-jurisdictional and institutionally complex character. Countries organise their maritime security sector quite differently and also deal with external assistance in various fashions. The results will be published in an edited volume forthcoming in 2018. Initial results and drafts are available on the project website.
On November the 1st I am giving a presentation at a symposium of the Indian Navy. Hosted by the Indian Navy Naval War College in Goa the two-day event is focussed on “Addressing Regional Maritime Challenges” and brings together over one hundred representatives from Indian and Indian Ocean navies. Held for the first time, the Goa Maritime Enclave intends to strengthen collaboration and joint learning across the Indian Ocean. As such it is a further addition to other formats such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium or the Sri Lanka Navy’s Galle Dialogue strengthening the maritime ties in the region.
My talk draws on my recent research on maritime domain awareness and capacity building. I firstly contextualize maritime domain awareness historically, arguing that we have witnessed a series of revolutions in “knowing the sea”, starting out from the British Empires approach to turn the oceans into governable and knowable zones, the rise of attempts to track and monitor maritime traffic for search and rescue as well as environmental management purposes, up to the current day big data revolution in which advanced surveillance technology and anomaly detection is geared at supporting maritime security operations. Zooming in on the Western Indian Ocean I then investigate the claim that maritime domain awareness by virtue strengthens cooperation. I argue that on the one side, the competition between architectures points to a strong geo-political motive in building maritime domain awareness, on the other side we can observe the rise of communities of practice with the objective of working together. I conclude by arguing that advancing shared maritime domain awareness will imply to provide some order to the current complexity of architectures, to re-politicize these projects, to work towards more trust and confidence to enable sharing of information (between agencies and countries), as well as to avoid living in technological fantasies and rely on pragmatic low tech work instead. The slides of the talk are available as pdf here.