Christian Bueger

The strategic importance of subsea data cables for the African continent

Continuing our discussion of the strategic importance of subsea data cables, on September 22 and 23, 2022 we held an event with a focus on African challenges and capacity building. The expert workshop was organized in cooperation with the Atlantic Center, University of Cape Town, the EU’s Cyber for Development Initiative and Cardiff University.

The event featured speakers from the African industry, regional organizations such as NEPAD, UNIDIR, or the Indian Ocean Commission, as well as from South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique. Two of the key themes of the discussion were: 1) the digital dependency of Southern Africa implied by the lack of data centers as well as the weakness of intra-African connections; 2) the relationships and mutual responsibilities between states, local and global industry in building, maintaining and repairing digital infrastructures. Part of the event was an excursion to the cable repair ship that covers the East and West coast of Southern Africa, sponsored by Orange Maritime.

The event is part of our global dialogue on subsea data cables initiated through the help of the Danish Ministry of Education (DACANE) and the Velux Foundation (Ocean Infrastructure research group).

Presentation at European Defense Agency

I had the pleasure to present the key recommendations of our study on threats to the subsea data cable network at the meeting of the Underwater Control team of the European Defense Agency on 20.9.

The protection of subsea infrastructure is an increasing concern for the European defense community not the least in the light of Russian security policy. Protecting this infrastructure depends on strong collaboration between civil and military actors, but also between state agencies and the industry.

Assembling the maritime security community in Singapore

The Information Fusion Center based in Singapore is one of the key hubs for regional and global maritime security. It’s primary function is information sharing to increase maritime domain awareness in the Southeast Asian region. Yet, it has also been quite pro-active in organizing a community of global maritime security practitioners that assists in this task.

From 5th to 9th of September I had the pleasure to contribute to the IFC’s work at one of its key community building programme – the Regional Maritime Practitioner Programme (RMPP). RMPP is an annual one week event gathering mid-level representatives from navies, coastguards, and the shipping industry from around the world. This year’s edition saw over 80 participants from maritime security agencies from Europe, the Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific.

At the event I led two sessions and chaired a roundtable. In the first session I provided an introduction to maritime security thinking, by introducing the SafeSeas models of maritime security and the history of maritime security thinking. I concluded in arguing that the contemporary maritime security debate is driven by a dual trend of thinking in spheres of influence and geopolitics on the one hand, and planetary thinking, the climate change and biodiversity agenda on the other. The session concluded with a discussion on how we can prioritize maritime security issues, while considering the interlinkages between them.

The second session focused on the importance of information sharing and the barriers that need to be overcome to make it effective. I discussed the key rationale for information sharing and maritime domain awareness and then introduced the challenges linked to it. These are firstly, technical challenges, were the main difficulty lies in how to network the high number of networks. More pressing are socio-political challenges, linked to organization identity, concerns over privacy, or the costs of information sharing. In the following discussion we investigated how these barriers can be overcome, through trust, institutional will, standards and procedures, or reduced costs.

The roundtable provided a flight through the key emerging maritime security challenges in Southeast Asia with a focus on terrorism, narcotic smuggling, irregular migration and cyber security.

Infrastructuring in Athens

In the first week of September I was visiting Athens to attend the European International Studies Conference. At the conference I presented work on epistemic infrastructures and the sea, as well as acted as discussant for a panel on Concepts and Methods in International Practice Theory.

Part of the stay was a visit to ENISA, the EU’s cyber security agency. We discussed ENISA’s work in critical infrastructure protection and what role the agency might have in protection of subsea data cables. We also had the pleasure to meet Nisa, the agency’s cat.

Gathering of diplomatic practice scholars

On Monday and Tuesday, I had the pleasure to attend at a meeting that brought the community of scholars working on diplomatic practices together in Copenhagen. The event was organized by Rebecca Adler-Nissen’s DIPLOFACE project.

With 50+ scholars attending and presenting their ideas and book projects, the event well documented the strong overlap between diplomacy studies and international practice theory. The fact that the majority of practice scholars in International Relations works in one way or the other on diplomatic practices, has brought up some criticism against practice theory as to focused on global elite. Yet, one should not overlook the fact that diplomacy is one of the foundational practice of international relations. What became clear at the meeting, is that scholars are also substantially interested in the practices of international administrators or scientific experts, which may (or may not) participate in diplomacy as practice.

A key cross-cutting theme of the event were also the substantial transformations that diplomacy faces in an age of increasingly digitally mediated interactions and the return of geopolitical discourse.

Book on international practices now available

Our new edited volume provides new directions for the practice turn in international relations. Co-edited with Alena Drieschova and Ted Hopf, chapter authors explore concepts such as knowledge, power, resistance, norms, evolution, repetition, and visuality, their role in practice theorizing, how they offer gateways to dialogue among practice scholars and with constructivism, institutionalism, and discourse theory, and how these concepts provide new answer to theory puzzles such as normativity and change.

The land-sea nexus

How can we conceptualize the relations between the land and the sea? This is the key driving question of a workshop organized by the Danish Institute for International Studies, that I am participating in on the 25th and 26th of August.

In my own contribution, I study the land-sea nexus as an example of ‘nexification’. I am interested in the sociology that drives the linkage. Broadly I distinguish three types: mergers driven by intellectual curiosity, interested in how the two hang together (largely anchored in history and anthropology), those that argue that the sea is increasingly governed by rationalities that persist on land (in international law and geography), and studies driven by policy demands, that investigate how solutions to maritime problems may be sought on land.

Event on maritime security in WIO

Today I had the opportunity to speak at an hybrid event organized by the Indian Ocean Commission and the Charles Telfair Centre on maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean ( The lively discussion revolved around issues of which maritime security issues to prioritized, whether regional institutions deliver, and how to interpret the new geopolitical thinking in the region.

In my comments, I drew on our recent analysis, published in African Security Review, coauthored with Jan Stockbruegger ( My key take away points from the event:

Continue reading

New Commentary on security in the Western Indian Ocean

In early 2022 a subtle, but substantial shift took place in the Western Indian Ocean’s security architecture: The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (known as CGPCS) closed shop. It was replaced by a new format. Yet, not much action followed. In a new commentary, I investigates the prospects of the new grouping. Running through four scenarios, I argue that the group is most likely going to become a sleeping beauty.