Christian Bueger

Public talks on the Western Indian Ocean

In the last week of February I had the pleasure to give two public talks on global ocean politics and the security dynamics in the Western Indian Ocean.

The first talk was generously hosted by the University of Mauritius Faculty of Social Science. In the talk I investigated the rise of global ocean politics and the role of the Western Indian Ocean within it. Showing the politics behind different regional dynamics, I ended with a discussion on the consequence for small island states and the need to develop smart foreign policies. Holding larger states accountable to ensure they engage in stewardship, prioritizing regional integration, and exercising globally visible leadership were some of the strategies I highlighted.

Talk at the University of Mauritius, 28.2.2024

It was followed by comments by Pooja Awotar (Indian Ocean Commission and PhD Candidate at the Centre d’Etudes Diplomatiques et Stratégiques, Paris, France). The discussion focused on what smartness might mean in the current regional environment and how states can escape the militarization dilemma.

The second talk was hosted by the Honorary Consul of Germany to Mauritius. In the talk I provided a short history of the Western Indian Ocean and investigated the different positions of actors in more depth, ending on current challenges such as the crisis in the Red Sea. The discussion centered on the long term consequences of these developments and implications for sustainable development.

Talk at German Business Club, Mokka, Mauritius, 1.3.2024

Global ocean politics and naval cooperation – new video

The recording of my recent talk at the MILAN exercises of the Indian Navy is now available on Youtube. In the presentation I revisit the shifts in global ocean politics that navies will have to address in their strategy, and show how critical maritime infrastructure protection is an important point of strategic convergence and global naval cooperation.

Meetings in Berlin: The Baltic Sea, the age of infrastructure and the future of maritime security

Over the course of a week I participated in a series of meetings in Berlin. The first was an authors meeting of a forthcoming report on the future of maritime security. The report will lay out in detail what challenges the global governance of maritime security faces and which institutions might respond to these.

The second was writing workshop of the Ocean Infrastructure Research Group. We conducted a thorough review of the chapters of our co-authored book titles Global Ocean Politics in the Age of Infrastructure.

Finally, I attended a workshop organized by the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy that focused on the Baltic Sea.

Participants of the Baltic Sea Security event, 14.2.2024, Berlin

Navies and the blue economy: Strategic thinking at Indian Ocean Naval Symposium

In December 2023 I had the pleasure to participate in the 8th Indian Ocean Naval Symposium organized by the Thai Navy.

The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) is one of the most important maritime security arrangement in the region. It is the only format that brings security actors from south east Asia, the bay of Bengal and the western Indian Ocean together to discuss security at sea. It also includes important maritime states, including China, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia as observers.

Delegates at 8th IONS, Bangkok, 12.2023
Continue reading

Seabed security: Naval Forum in Spain

The seabed is rapidly becoming a new space of concern in security politics. In Europe, largely triggered by the 2022 sabotage of he Nord Stream pipelines, but also investments by Russia in subsea capabilities, NATO countries are reevaluating their dependency on subsea infrastructures such as pipelines and data and electricity cables.

As part of their EU presidency, the Spanish Navy hosted a Forum focused on the issue on November, 16th at naval headquarters in Madrid. Titled the “Seabed, a new area of interest and dispute”, 150 participants, including high level representatives from all major European navies, discussed the importance of the seabed, and different responses.

The first panel focused on the strategic picture, deep seabed mining and subsea data cables. In the second panels, the navies of Spain, Italy and France provided an overview of the defense and coordination projects they are currently developing. The French representative showed how the navy is implementing its dedicated seabed strategy, while Italy discussed how their response is structured by technological innovation, maritime stakeholder communities, a legal review and the creation of a new coordination center.

In my contribution to panel 1, I firstly argued for the need to think maritime security in dimensional terms. I then demonstrated how substantively our dependency on the seabed has been accelerating in the past two decades, a trend that will continue with the green energy transition is unfolding. Two make that point, I provided a review of how the seabed has been used throughout history. I then investigated the hypothetical landscape of threats based on our recent article on the issue. I ended in an evaluation of current European responses and its challenges.

Source: Critical Maritime Infrastructure Protection: What’s the trouble?, Marine Policy, 155: 105772, 2023 (with Tobias Liebetrau).

The main responses are led by NATO and the EU. NATO has developed a coordination cell in its headquarters which organizes a stakeholder network described as ‘community of trust’. At NATO Maritime Command a center for critical infrastructure protection is being developed which will operate in a similar way as the NATO Shipping Center to enhance information sharing and coordination with industry.

The EU is currently evaluating the vulnerability of subsea infrastructures, and has recently launched its EU Maritime Security Strategy that entails significant plans for infrastructure protection. A key actor driving the agenda is the European Defense Agency.

More efforts will be needed, however, in improving maritime domain awareness and subsea awareness, reliable information sharing and standards for the self-protection by the industry.

Debating the future of maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean

What’s the state of progress and arising challenges for maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean? From 14.-16.11. I had the pleasure to follow large parts of a ministerial conference addressing this issue in Mauritius online. I chaired one session on the first day and provided comments in the concluding sessions.

Below is the write up of my intervention:

Towards holistic maritime security: Finetuning the maritime security system in the Western Indian Ocean

Maritime security solutions in the Western Indian Ocean have made significant progress. A decade after the crisis caused by piracy attacks in the region, a sustainable and well-functioning maritime security structure has been built.

While often referred to as a maritime security ‘architecture’, this term seems no longer appropriate. An architecture is a metaphor that points to a project in planning and construction. Maritime security has progressed in the region to a degree, that it is now better to refer to a ‘system’ – a system that needs to be finetuned and improved, but which has been well established.

Continue reading

Discussing security challenges in the Mediterranean in Athens

The Mediterranean is an increasing volatile region and close attention for the range of security challenges is needed. I had the pleasure to discuss these challenges with colleagues at an event co-organized by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) and NATO, held in Athens on 3.11.2023.

In my talk I was reviewing the set of maritime security issues in the region, highlighting the need to think beyond the problem of irregular migration at sea.

Visit to Hawai’i

The protection of critical maritime infrastructures is a global concern. During a stay in Hawai’i I participated in a two day workshop on subsea data cables in the Indo-Pacific organized by the Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs, University of Hawai’i. I had also the pleasure to meet the staff of the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies for a discussion of maritime security and capacity building in the region.

Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs
Workshop at the Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs, University of Hawai’i

At the workshop I was drawing on our research on critical maritime infrastructure protection to argue for the need to rethink maritime security in the light of the growing density of maritime infrastructures. While there is increasing awareness for the importance of subsea data cable, it is important to recognize the inter-dependencies between maritime infrastructures, in particular energy and data.

Talk on infrastructure protection in South China Sea

I had the pleasure to give an online talk at the 15th South China Sea International Conference organized by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. The conference is one of the most important gatherings of maritime security experts in the region.

In my talk I was outlining the implications of the critical maritime infrastructure protection agenda for the region. Vietnam in particular has substantial potential in offshore energy production, which raises the question of how these installations will be protected in the future.

Talk at forum on Baltic Security

The question of how regional seas, such as the Baltic and North Sea can be secured differently, continues to be a top priority in Europe’s security and defense debate. On October, 11th I had the pleasure to speak at a forum at the British Embassy in Copenhagen.

In my talk I stressed the importance of shifting our thinking about security to account for the new age of infrastructure we are living in. Our growing dependency on maritime infrastructures, notably in the light of the green energy transformation which depends on offshore installations, implies that we have to better integrate policy and operations that address energy security, supply chain security, maritime security and marine safety.

We also need to revisit how to better manage regional inter-dependencies, not only in the framework of NATO and the EU, but also institutions, such as the Bonn Agreement or the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission.

Dealing with threats and emergencies, such as the 2022 Nordstream sabotage, the 2023 Balticconnector leak, but also accidents, such as the Yannis P incident of August 2023, caused by shadow fleets, demand so.

A recording of the event is available here.