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
From the 12th to the 13th of December BIMCO is holding its first Maritime Security Seminar in its headquarters in Denmark. The three main sessions of the event focus on 1) piracy, 2) other maritime crime, and 3) maritime terrorism. Over 70 participants represent mainly shipping companies and other industry bodies. The event intends to rethink the importance of the maritime security agenda for the shipping industry. At the event I am giving a presentation that reflects on maritime terrorism and how it is linked to the situation of coastal populations.
In a new article, published in The RUSI Journal and co-authored with Jan Stockbruegger, we discuss the post-2016 situation in the Western Indian Ocean. Reviewing the current environment, characterized by the decline of piracy and the persistence of maritime insecurity, we argue for the importance of developing a better designed regional maritime security architecture. The article is available here.
In the first week of December, I will be visiting the University of the Seychelles. The university has recently appointed me as an Honorary Fellow and meetings concern the development of the University’s Sir James Mancham International Centre for Peace Studies and Diplomacy. I am also scheduled to meet the team of the chairmanship of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, and as part of my new project SafeSeas study the maritime security sector reform in the country.
In a new draft paper written for the edited volume “Concepts in Action/at Work: On the Meaning of Concepts in International Politics”, edited by Piki Ish-Shalom, I discuss the rise of the concept of “blue economy”. Blending an empirical reconstruction of different forms of using the concept as a tool for advancing political projects, I argue for basing concept analysis on practice theoretical foundations. The draft is available via my academia page at this link. As usually I am delighted for any comments and suggestions.
My new research project titled SafeSeas has received funding for the next 18 months by the British Academy. SafeSeas is a pilot project that studies lessons from maritime security capacity building in the Horn of Africa. The project compares the ongoing efforts to restructure the maritime security sector in four countries (Djibouti, Kenya, Seychelles, and Somalia). The objective is to develop key guidelines and best practices for the programming and implementation of maritime security capacity building and maritime security sector reform. Although maritime capacity building has been done in limited forms for decades by international navies and the International Maritime Organization, it is generally considered as a new field of international activity. The project has four aims:
- to increase our understanding of challenges and effects of MSSR
- to transfer lessons from other fields of capacity building to the maritime
- to develop a methodology for mapping national maritime security sectors
- to identify best practices, gaps and shortcomings in the delivery of capacity building
What are the capabilities and technologies available for the EU’s civilian conflict prevention and peacebuilding work? This was the core theme of a workshop of the EU CIVCAP project I attend on the 18th of November in Rome. At the workshop, hosted by the Istituto Affari Internazionali, I chaired a panel and discussed one of the core outputs of the project so far
Following up on our last years stay, I was visiting Xiamen University (XMU) again from the 8th to 11th of November. In the meantime, Cardiff University is about to sign a formal partnership agreement with XMU and I was part of a departmental delegation which further explores avenues of collaboration in teaching and research. They stay was a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues at XMU and to discuss the current state of international relations and maritime research in China. I also gave a talk, which based on a joint paper written with Tim Edmunds. In the paper, we develop the concept of pragmatic orders and study how ocean governance has become quite substantially transformed through informalization and experimentation. Contact me if you are interested in the paper, which is currently under review.
The special issue “European Diplomatic Practices: Contemporary Challenges and Innovative Approaches” edited by Federica Bicchi and Niklas Bremberg has just come out with the journal European Security. The intent of the special issue is to showcase how practice theory can provide new insights on European foreign and security policy. In my own contribution, I draw on practice theory to explore how the question of European agency can be reconceptualized. I draw on the examples of the EU’s role in counter-piracy. Here is the abstract:
The practice turn provides new avenues for core questions of international relations and European Studies. This article draws on a practice theoretical account to shed new light on the constitution of agency in global politics. An understanding of agency as achievement that requires significant practical work and the participation in international fields of practice is developed. Drawing on the case of the field of counter-piracy practice and the European Union’s (EU’s) work to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia, it is shown how the EU achieved the position as a core actor in the field. A detailed discussion of the EU’s work in interrupting and knowing piracy, in building capacity, and in governing piracy is provided.
What determines who is an expert and heard and which factors shape the dialogue between academia and policy worlds? Those are some of the questions explored at a one-day symposium, I am attending on the 27th of October. The symposium is titled “Borrowed truths: transfers of Expertise and Evidence across science, justice, and politics” and is held at Cardiff University and organized by Dr. Berit Bliesemann de Guevara and Dr. Aimee Grant. Other speakers include Dr. Inanna Hamati-Ataya, Dr.Robert Evans, Dr. Yvonne McDermott Rees, Prof Mark Drakeford, Daran Hill and Prof Harry Collins.
In my presentation I will draw on a forthcoming book chapter in which I discuss the role of expertise in counter-piracy governance.