Christian Bueger

Two new articles published

In the last week, two new articles were published as online first. The article titled Territory, Authority, Expertise: Global Governance and the Counter-Piracy Assemblage”, came out in the European Journal of International Relations and is available here: doi: 10.1177/1354066117725155. In the article, I investigate how the cooperation in counter-piracy off the coast of Somalia can be theorized. Studying the making of the Best Management Practices and the controversy around the High Risk Area – two of the core devices of counter-piracy – he argues that assemblage theory spurs important insights on how cooperation works in practice. The article in particular highlights the advantages and disadvantages of deformalized politics and working with best practices.

The other article is co-authored with Tim Edmunds, and the first major output of our shared project SafeSeas. Titled “Beyond Seablindness: A New Agenda For Maritime Security Studies” the article came out with International Affairs and is available here:  doi: 10.1093/ia/iix174. In the text we discuss the recent developments in maritime security and sketch out an agenda for maritime security studies.

Attending EISA in Barcelona

From the 11th to 16th of September I was attending the annual conference of the European International Studies Association held in Barcelona. The primary focus of my activities this year was current research in international practice theory. I co-convened a section with ten panels on the topic together with Dr. Alena Drieschova. Three of those panels presented first drafts of the chapters of the edited volume Conceptualizing International Practices we are working on since a year.  I also acted as one of the senior discussants of a one-day Young Researcher Workshop on methodology and presented some of my recent work on ocean governance and the contemporary maritime security agenda.

At University of Toronto

From the 7th to the 9th of September I was visiting the University of Toronto’s Political Science Department. My visit was primarily to attend the oral examination of a splendid PhD thesis on normative transformations written by Simon Pratt. As external examiner, I had the pleasure to read and comment on a thesis that succeeds in offering an alternative framework to study the change of normative structures by drawing on pragmatist assumptions and empirical material from US security policy.  I also gave a talk in the department’s seminar series titled “The deformalization of global politics: Insights from a praxiography of counter-piracy governance”. In the talk, I summarized some of my core findings on counter-piracy governance in the light of the debate on informal governance.

Thinking the blue economy as kaleidoscope: Review published

My short review of James Alix Michel’s Rethinking The Oceans – Towards the Blue Economy is available as online first with the Journal of the Indian Ocean Region. In the review, I highlight the productivity of interpreting blue economy as a kaleidoscope, rather than striving for a universal definition. I then argue for the importance of paying more attention to the link between blue economy and maritime security. Free pre-print copies of the review are available here. 

Smart Foreign Policy: Seychelles has a new think tank

Good politics does not only require solid ideas and plans, but also evidence of what works, and a public debate on what options to pursue. This holds true in any policy field, including foreign and security policy and diplomacy – the areas that Seychelles newest think tank addresses.

On Friday the 11th of August, I had the pleasure to attend the inauguration ceremony of the Sir James Mancham International Centre for Peace Studies and Diplomacy (JMPC). Seychelles newest think tank is part of the University of Seychelles and the launch brought together a range of high level policy makers and supporters of the project.

Why is a think tank on peace and diplomacy needed? Peering to other countries that have similar institutions provides answers. In London, Paris, Singapore, Pretoria and elsewhere, think tanks play an important role in developing evidence and ideas for foreign and security policy, in offering a public space for the debate of crucial challenges, but also in training diplomats and policy makers on the basis of state of the art research. These are some of the core roles that the centre will play not only in Seychelles, but also the wider Western Indian Ocean.

Seychelles has an extraordinary foreign policy record. Its diplomats belong to the most successful in the region. Leading the coalition of small island developing states, promoting the blue economy, mediating between positions in organizations such as the African Union or the Southern African Development Community, or chairing the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia successfully for two years, are some of these success stories. With Seychelles now having joined a new club, the club of high income countries, it is time that also its foreign policy progresses to a new level of professionalization. This is where the new centre comes in.

Debating crucial challenges for Seychelles and the region, feeding in expertise to the foreign policy of the country and offering training opportunities are the core objectives of the new centre. While the training programme is under development, and research in areas such as maritime security has just kick-started, the centre has already shown how its events can make a difference in offering thinking space. Earlier this year the centre held one forum on foreign policy strategy and one on reconciliation – core questions for the future of the country. Future events will tackle critical issues such as how to contain illegal fishing activities, or how to interpret the geopolitical situation in the Western Indian Ocean.
The centre is destined to become an intellectual hub for Seychelles and for the Western Indian Ocean region. As an informal tool of diplomacy, it will allow Seychelles to continue its track as a leader in the region. As a knowledge provider, it will inform the regional debate, but also ensure that international actors draw on the adequate expertise of the region.

The centre is destined to become an intellectual hub for Seychelles and for the Western Indian Ocean region. As an informal tool of diplomacy, it will allow Seychelles to continue its track as a leader in the region. As a knowledge provider, it will inform the regional debate, but also ensure that international actors draw on the adequate expertise of the region.

New role at EJIS

From the 1st of August, I am taking over a new role in the running of the European Journal of International Security (EJIS). As the new Lead Editor (Europe) I will coordinate the efforts of EJIS in Europe and represent the journal at European events. EJIS is the new flagship journal of the British International Studies Association launched in 2016 with Cambridge University Press. It is one of the global leading journals in the field of Security Studies and cognate disciplinary fields (including international law, anthropology or science and technology studies).

While the journal has Europe in the title, one of my future roles will be to explain that the journal does not focus on Europe, but is interested in innovative and thought-provoking articles from across the world that contribute to the contemporary understanding of security. Read our mission statement from the first issue 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 on the event. Check it out if you want to follow the event.

Policy brief on maritime domain awareness

How can maritime domain awareness (MDA) in the Western Indian Ocean be improved? This is the question I address in a new Policy Brief published by the Institute for Security Studies Pretoria. Much of the current MDA work is in the hands of international actors, and although significant capacity building is underway, projects such as the Djibouti Code of Conduct or the MASE project have not led to a functioning MDA structure. I argue that a focus on people and improved coordination would allow to step up the game.