Christian Bueger


Presentation at Indian Navy symposium

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.


Attending FishCrime Symposium in Vienna

From the 25th to 26th of September I am attending the 3rd International Symposium on fisheries crime, als known as FishCrime. The symposium is an annual event for the community of practitioners addressing fishery crimes and Illegal, Unregulated and Underreported (IUU) fishing. The third installment of the event is held at the headquarters of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna. I am attending the symposium as an observer, to meet professionals in the field, and to learn more about the problematization of fish and its career on the international policy agenda. Further information on the event is available here. 


CGPCS meeting in Mauritius

The 20th plenary meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) is expected to become a milestone in the re-organisation of the response to piracy. The meeting takes place in Mauritius in the first week of July. I will attend the meeting in my capacity as an advisor to the chairmen, the government of Seychelles, and as in the last years will report on lessonsfrompiracy.net on the event. Check it out if you want to follow the event.


Visiting Project Partners in the Western Indian Ocean

In March I am visiting the project partners of SAFE SEAS in Eastern and Southern Africa. The goal is not only to deepen collaborations but to develop ideas in which directions to further advance the project.  During my stay in the Seychelles, I have also held a strategy meeting with the current secretariat of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia in order to prepare the next plenary meeting. In addition, I gave a talk in the forum title “Think big, but small is beautiful. Small Island Diplomacy”, organized by the Sir James Mancham International Center for Peace Studies and Diplomacy of the University of the Seychelles. In the talk titled “Creole Foreign Policy: The Seychelles and small state diplomacy” I investigated core insights from the small state literature, discussed the particular strengths of Seychelles and laid out three ideas of how the country can continue its success story. Other speakers were ambassador Barry Faure, and representatives from the Blue Economy Department and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The centre will publish a report on the forum in due course.


People first: Pakistan’s approach to Maritime Domain Awareness

Much of recent debate concerns how maritime domain awareness (MDA) and information sharing can be effectively organized, in particular under resource constraints. Surveillance technology and tools for data fusion and algorithmic analysis are expensive. The tools developed by MDA centers in the US, UK or in Singapore are hardly options for lower income countries and regions. Yet, what are the alternatives? An answer comes from Pakistan.
In 2013 Pakistan has inaugurated its Joint Maritime Information Coordination Center (JMICC). Situated in Karachi and operated by the Pakistani Navy the center has developed an innovative approach to MDA which provides useful lessons for other countries and regional centers. Three core principles underly the work JMICC: inclusivity, community engagement, and responsiveness. During a visit to the center on the 15th of February, I had the opportunity to learn more about how the center works and puts these principles into practice. Each of the principles is discussed in the following. Continue reading


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International Maritime Conference in Karachi

Pakistan’s most important conference on maritime security is organized by the National Centre for Maritime Policy Research (NCMPR), the think tank of the country’s navy based at Bahria University. This year’s installment of the event is under the theme “Strategic Outlook in the Indian Ocean Region 2030 and Beyond: Evolving Challenges and Strategies”. The conference is held in conjunction with the naval exercise Aman, in which over 70 countries participate.

At the four-day conference (10-14.2), I gave a presentation titled “Pakistan and the Western Indian Ocean Community”. Drawing on the results of our recent analysis of the region, in the paper, I review the current strategic environment in the Western Indian Ocean, argue that the region can find a shared strategic vision in the concept of security community, and outline consequences for Pakistani’s foreign and security policy. I particularly highlight the need for sustained multilateral engagement in fora such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, the Indian Ocean Maritime Crime Forum, the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, or the Djibouti Code of Conduct process. The paper is available here.


The Indian Ocean Rim Association: A start-up in the field of maritime security?

The Indian Ocean Rim Association intends to strengthen regional cooperation among the Indian Ocean littorals. For long it has been a sleeping beauty. But it was kissed awake in the last years, and now becomes an increasingly active and visible player in several priority areas. Among them: Maritime security and safety, fishery management and the blue economy. IORA promises to become a core player in ocean governance. In particular, the emerging issues areas of maritime security and the blue economy continue lack international fora; a gap that IORA can fill on a regional level. Today I had the pleasure to discuss the work of IORA at the Secretariat’s headquarters in Mauritius’ cyber city. IORA continues to operate with a small secretariat with no more than twelve permanent staff members. The secretariat approach is fully service oriented and it offers its expertise and organizational support to projects and proposals of member states which it implements through a Special Fund. On this basis, the IORA secretariat has organized an impressive range of 30 events throughout 2016, including a blue economy conference. Continue reading


Field Visit to Mauritius

As part of my ESRC funded project “Improving the Coordination of Maritime Security in the Western Indian Ocean” I am visiting Mauritius from the 15th to 20th of December. I am scheduled to meet with representatives from the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), the University of Mauritius and other maritime experts. The goal of the visit is to gain a better understanding of how the coordination of capacity building activites in the region can be improved in particular in the light of the significant overlap between the CRIMARIO and MASE projects as well as bilateral work.


On the road to the AU’s maritime charter: Event in Addis

How will the Lome Charter that is going to be adopted at the African Union’s extraordinary summit in October this year will change ocean governance on the continent? This is the core question that we will be exploring at an event in Addis Ababa organized by the Institute for Security Studies. The event titled “From awareness to action: Africa’s blue economy after Lomé” takes place on September 29th. Please see further information here.  In my talk, I will emphasize the need of thinking the blue economy, ocean health, and maritime security agendas together and focussing on those activities that can benefit each agenda. Drawing on my current work on the relation between these agendas, I will argue that maritime domain awareness and information sharing, joint law enforcement operations, and education should be priority areas for the next years.  In these areas, significant synergies between all three agendas can be achieved. Knowing what happens at sea and ensuring the flow of information between all actors relevant is the necessary background for designing policies and projects to better protect the seas and develop them. Given the vastness of the sea and the resource limitations actors will have to learn how to work together in policing the sea. Education is pivotal for increasing the awareness of the vital importance of the sea for the future of the continent and training the practitioners which will be able to implement the agendas.