Christian Bueger


Commentaries on UN Security Council debate on maritime security

The UN Security Council held its first ever open debate on maritime security on August the 9th. While the Council discussed maritime crimes in earlier debates, and has been pro-active in addressing crimes, such as piracy, the open debate was a high level exchange focusing on the broader strategic picture. The fact that the meeting was held at the level of heads of state and minister, with among others India’s prime minister Mr. Modi, and Russian president Mr. Putin addressing the Council, documents that maritime security is increasingly a top priority.

The Security Council debate is an important yardstick for how the international community thinks about maritime security, what priorities are in the discourse and what responses and institutional developments it is likely to spur. To investigate the key take away points from the debate, I have written a series of comments on the debate.

In the first commentary, published with Maritime Executive on August,12th, I discuss consequences for the shipping industry. I argue that the debate indicates that the center of gravity of the maritime security debate is increasingly shifting away from the International Maritime Organization towards New York. This raises the question if and how the shipping community will want to engage with the UN debates. The commentary was also taken up in a story in Lloyds List.

The second opinion piece asks whether the United Nations require a new institutional set up for maritime security. This was one of the issues raised in the debate. In the comment I investigate different scenarios of how such a structure might look like. It was published with the Global Observatory.


Is global shipping in crisis?

Yesterday I had the opportunity to discuss in Al Jazeera’s Inside Story show the current situation in shipping. The global shipping industry is under significant stress at the moment due to the ongoing pandemic with adverse effect on global supply chains. In the show we were discussing what to do about this situation and the larger implications of our dependency on the global transport infrastructure and how it is regulated.


Podcast on practices and pragmatic ordering

What does it imply to study international practices? How do international orders change? How can practice theory and pragmatist philosophy translated into models useful for empirical research? These are some of the questions that we explore in an edition of the Practice Theory podcast available here.

The discussion with the hosts Elizabeth Shove and Stanley Blue takes as starting point the recently published article “Pragmatic ordering: Informality, experimentation, and the maritime security agenda”. Co-authored with Tim Edmunds the article was recently published as online first with Review of International Studies. Contact me to receive a copy.


Oil spill in Mauritius

The oil spill that occurred in Mauritius this week is an environmental tragedy. Having been to the island a number of times. I was shocked to see the pictures of these stunning waters destroyed by 1.000 tonnes of oil.

Based on a detailed reconstruction of the unfolding of the disaster and our work on capacity building, I wrote a number of short comments. I also gave a range of interviews to international and regional news outlets, including with BBC Radio, Reuters and Deutsche Welle TV.

The MV Wakashio sinking, photo credits: Matt Tse.

In an article in The Diplomat I argue that in particular governments in small states need to see oil spills as national priorities. They need to undertake reviews of the national response plans in the light of the disaster. Read the article The Mauritius Disaster: Overlooked Dimensions of Maritime Security, published on August, 12th.

The Mauritius Times printed an interview with me on August, 14th. Read the interview in which I discuss the importance of learning the lessons from the disaster here.

On the same day, Today in Seychelles published a commentary titled Mauritius oil spill: Seychelles must protect its natural beauty and industry. I argue that Seychelles should urgently review its own contingency plans.

In addition, we published the a more detailed analysis of the response, whether and how the government was prepared and what questions need to be addressed on the same day as SafeSeas Commentary.

The comments were widely picked up in international news, Mauritius Times published further follow ups as did other media in Mauritius.

ISS Today publish a comment coauthored with Timothy Walker on Monday. The piece republished across African newspapers, focuses on the particular consequences for Africa.

The Conversation published a further comment that shows the weakness of the responses of the government and the industry. I argue for a public and transparent investigation of the issue.

A further contribution that addresses the regional consequences for the security architecture in the Western Indian Ocean, co-authored with Tim Edmunds was published by the Observer Research Foundation.


Commentaries on Beirut port disaster

In the afternoon of August 4th, a major explosion in the port of Beirut killed over 100 people and left thousands wounded. Given the importance of the port for Lebanon’s economy, the consequences will be felt for years.

Together with Scott Edwards I have written a series of commentaries that aim at contextualising the disaster and analysing its consequences for global trade and port management. We particular highlight the link to abandoned ships and containers, as well as the broader challenges posed by the trade in hazardous materials.

Our first general analysis was published by The Conversation, the day after the disaster. Read the piece titled “Beirut explosion: the disaster was exceptional but events leading up to it were not – researchers.” We argue to interpret the event in the light of the broader problem of abandoned ships and container.

Our second comment focuses on Africa. Recognising that African ports are particularly vulnerable, we argue for dedicated capacity building work to address the handling of hazardous material and waste crimes. The article titled “African ports need to learn the lessons of Beirut” was published by African Business Magazine on August 6th.

A third comment published with The Diplomat on August 7th, investigates the consequences for Southeast Asia, arguing that ports in the region have struggled in the past and now need to step up there game. Read “The Beirut Disaster Is a Wake-up Call for Southeast Asia. The devastating explosion in Beirut reminds us how vulnerable Southeast Asian ports might be.”


Maritime Conference in Karachi

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