Christian Bueger

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.

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:

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The 7 challenges of subsea cable security – Summary of our recent event

In June we held an expert workshop on subsea data cables and their security. The workshop summary is now published. Our key argument is that the new awareness and the growing expansion of the network implies a new era for cable security.

We discuss seven key challenges of the new era. This includes how to deal with the growing number of actors involved, how to use existing capabilities efficiently, develop new ones, but also how to handle the data from cable sensors.

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At UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon

This week I am attending the UN Ocean Conference. These type of conferences are increasingly important in ocean governance, and it will be an exciting opportunity to learn more about how such events unfold, and if and how they have an impact on global ocean governance.
As part of the conference we are also hosting together with the Atlantic Center of the Portuguese Ministry of Defense and the Institute for Security Studies (Pretoria) an expert workshop on subsea data cable protection. The workshop is part of our DACANE project and will reflect on the insights gained in our recent study on data cables for the European Parliament.

We are also co-hosting a public panel, which is part of the UN Ocean Conference Programme. In the public event we will explore the relation between marine infrastructure protection and marine conservation. The panel is opened by the Portuguese Secretary of State for Defence, Marco Capitão Ferreira, as well as Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean. It is chaired by Martin Koehring, Head, World Ocean Initiative, Economist Impact and features Steve Dawe, Chairman European Subsea Cable Association, Kaitlin Meredith, UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme, Philippe Dumont, CEO EllaLink, Leendert Bal, Head of Safety, Security and Surveillance Department, European Maritime Safety Agency and myself.

Workshop on Anthropology and Interventions

On June 20 and 21st I attended a workshop at the European University Institute. The event explored the intersection between knowledge production, intervention and the relations between the local and global.

In my contribution to the workshop I argued that to often we presume that knowledge and knowledge production is seen as preceding action. Instead we have to understand them as an integral part of a practice. Drawing on insights from a text titled “theorizing capacity building co-authored with Simone Tholens, I emphasized the need for going beyond epistemic determinism, that is the assumption that the practices of intervenors is informed by pre-established knowledge. This is not to argue that such pre-knowledge does not matter, but it is to suggest that we should not overestimate its importance. Often knowledge is made up on the spot in a concrete intervention locale, and often it is experimental. I drew on a range of examples from maritime security to illustrate the argument.

Workshop on international objects

The idea that international relations research is more productive if it starts out from objects, rather than subjects and their intentions, is increasingly gaining a foothold in the discipline. On June 16th and 17th the Global Governance Centre of the Graduate Institute hosted a workshop in Geneva that assembled some of the key advocates of the turn to objectual international relations. The discussion concerned in particular the relationship between expertise and object and for instance the question in what way epistemic practices are required for objects of global governance to emerge.

At the workshop I presented some ideas on the relationship between epistemic infrastructures and global governance objects. I argued that such infrastructures are vital in the production and maintenance of objects. I drew on empirical examples from the evolution of ‘piracy’ as an object of international governance and how contemporary maritime domain awareness approaches are increasingly rendering the object as multiple.