From the 19th of July the core team of my research project SAFESEAS – A study of Maritime Security Capacity Building in the Western Indian Ocean, funded by the British Academy’s Sustainable Development Programme is scheduled to visit Seychelles and Kenya for a range of stakeholder consultation meetings and for data gathering. For updates and news see our project website.
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.
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.
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
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 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
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.
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.
From the 12th to the 14th of June I am scheduled for Brussels. On the agenda is first a briefing at NATO HQ on the upcoming NATO Summit. I am in particular interested how NATO will continue its maritime security work. 2016 is a transformative year, it is expected that NATO’s Operation Ocean Shields will end this year, there is a growing discussion of what NATO’s role could be in tackling the human trafficking problem in the Mediterranean and how such work could be linked to Operation Active Endeavour, and the opreationalization of the Alliance Maritime Strategy still lack progress. On the second day I am acting as reviewer for an European Commission funded FP7 project. The project titled IPATCH intends to develop early detection mechanisms for piracy and as such might assist in strengthening maritime domain awareness.
The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia – the global governance body which I have been studying closely in my ESRC funded Counter-Piracy Governance project – is soon to hold its next plenary meeting. Organized by the current chairmen, the Government of Seychelles, the four day meeting will be held in the Seychelles from the 29th to the 3rd of June. I will be participating as an observer, but also give two presentations during the meeting. In the first presentation I will provide an update of the lessons learned work I have been doing for the group, and in the second discuss the future of the group on the basis of a recent paper. I will report on the event on the website of the group which is available here.