How can regional sea states cooperate better to enhance maritime or energy security? This question is gaining increasing salience in different policy circles. On September 27th I had the pleasure to contribute to a debate organized by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC. The meeting was part of an upcoming series of discussions on the Baltic Sea region.
I have recently joined the Pool of Experts of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS), United Nations Office of Legal Affairs. My key objective will be to ensure that maritime security and safety concerns are appropriately considered in the UN assessment.
The opportunities of thinking infrastructurally for revisiting core questions of politics and social relations are also increasingly seized in international legal studies. On the 21st of September I had the pleasure to attend a workshop on legal infrastructures organized by the new center on mobility law at the University of Copenhagen.
Drawing on the concept of infrastructures allows to rethink the machinery of law as composed of structures and practices, which are material and social, and brings a broader array of agency to the fore. Law is in many ways ingrained in any infrastructure. Shipping would not function without the Law of the Sea and the conventions of the International Maritime Organization. The same time law can also be interpreted as an infrastructure in its own right with its internal logics and effects on how international relations are organized. Treaties and their institutions and norms can here be understood as enabling particular international practices, such as diplomacy and regulation.
A new teaching term kicked off at the University of Copenhagen. This semester I will have the pleasure to explore with students two crucial topics.
In the first seminar co-taught with Jan Stockbruegger we explore Global Ocean Politics. We discuss what is at stake in governing the oceans exploring the wide range of problems and actors that the oceans are facing. The seminar adds a teaching component to our ocean infrastructure research group.
The second seminar concerns methodology and research design. In the course titled ‘How to design research in International relations that matters‘, we will explore how research can be designed to resonate in global political discourses and interfere with international practices. With our focus on small scale research projects this is an interesting challenge that we need to get better at tackling.
The annual gathering of the community of scholars within the European International Studies Association is taking place in Potsdam this year from the 6th to 9th of September.
At the conference I am participating in a range of discussions presenting new drafts and reflecting on some older work.
I am presenting two new drafts. One is a methodological reflection on how practice theoretical scholarship can intervene in practice developing a framework centered around practical resonance and the making of epistemic objects. The other one is a co-authored draft together with Anders Wivel that continues our work on the agency of islands. We develop a pragmatist realist framework and study the case of Solomon Islands. We argue that the small island state has advanced a new foreign policy style that we describe as sneaky foreign policy. Get in touch if you want to read any of these new drafts.
Three roundtables provide space to reflect on prior work, specifically on questions of knowledge production and expertise, as well as on the role of objects in global politics.
To add some fun to the mix, we are also discussing the contributions that the cartoon series Asterix can make to the understanding of global politics.
From the 29th of August to the 3rd of September I had the pleasure to attend the American Political Science Association (APSA) annual conference. It had been almost ten year since I attend this conference last, and my primary motivator to attend, was to increase my understanding of where the American political science debate is drifting. The gap between European and U.S. discourses has been growing over the years and it is time to build better bridges again.
While U.S. research is strong in the ways it is methods driven and scholars engage in deep empirical work, conceptual thinking and reflexivity often seems to get less attention. In Europe one can observe the opposite trend: Much focus on concepts and theorizing, less attention to empirical depth.
At the conference I participated in a panel on infrastructures, presenting our collective work in the Ocean Infrastructure research group. A key take away point from the discussion was that the concept of infrastructure, can be an important vehicle to bridge the transatlantic divide.
Over the last ten days I was with the team of the Ocean Infrastructure Research Group in Mauritius. Together we advanced the draft of our forthcoming book on ocean infrastructure and conducted field work on the 2020 Wakashio oil spill, which is one of our case studies.
In the book we develop a new understanding of global ocean politics by developing a framework centered on infrastructure. We argue that the concept of infrastructure opens productive new avenues for understanding global ocean politics that allows us to overcome the limits of thinking centered on territory, freedom or global commons. We show the evolution of the oceans as an infrastructural space, and show how we can rethink power, law, security and knowledge infrastructurally.
Fieldwork on shipping risks in small islands
Part of our stay in Mauritius was also a stakeholder workshop and a public event on shipping risks and the lessons from the 2020 Wakashio shipping accident which caused a major environmental disaster in the country. The event was covered in the national newspapers, and we also met with a range of stakeholders individually, including the minister on blue economy, fishing and shipping.
A particular important experience was a field visit to the site where the accident happened and the coastal region where the oil was spilled. The visit was organized by the local NGO EcoSud. It revealed that the clean up is completed, but that the disaster has some visible and lasting impact on the coastal eco-system, and there continues to be residues of oil in the mangrove forests. In other words, the disaster is not over, but will have to be managed carefully in the years to come.
Critical maritime infrastructure protection (CMIP) is since the Nord Stream attacks in the Baltic Sea of 2022 a political priority. What are maritime infrastructures, what threats and risks are they facing, and how can they be best protected? These are the questions we address in a new article now out as open access with Marine Policy.
Over the next two weeks I will be giving a range of talks in Thailand and Singapore. On the 12th I am attending the Southeast Asia Maritime Law Enforcement Initiative (SEAMLEI), 9th Annual Commanders’ Forum and give a talk on the consequences of climate change for maritime security planning and operations.
On the 13th I will be speaking at an event on Critical Maritime Infrastructure Protection in Southeast Asia organized by the National University of Singapore’s Center of International Law. I will focus in particular on the consequences of green energy expansion for Singapore and the South China Sea.
From the 16th I am attending the Regional Maritime Security Practitioner Programme (RMPP) of the Singapore Navy. The Programme is one of the capstone events of the Information Fusion Center in Singapore and brings together over 100 participants from across the world. It is one of the world’s largest gatherings of maritime security practitioners and maritime domain awareness specialists. At the event, I will be giving a presentation on current trends in maritime security drawing on our book forthcoming with Oxford University Press (with Tim Edmunds) and chair a panel on current threats in the region.
Ireland is an island, and its security is dependent on the sea. On June 22nd I had the opportunity to contribute to the countries ongoing Consultative Forum on International Security Policy. The goal of the forum is to inform the public debate about the future options of the countries security policy and its tradition of neutrality.
In my contribution, some of which is summarized in this article, I stressed that Ireland is in a new era because it’s dependency on maritime infrastructure is increasing, and the Nord Stream attacks demonstrates that it is vulnerable. I emphasized the importance of close cooperation in the region within the EU and in mini-lateral formats.