Christian Bueger

What is the state of the EU’s maritime security strategy?

The Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU has made quite some efforts to lift maritime security higher on the agenda of the EU. To reflect on the state of EU maritime security provision, Portugal organized a mini away day of the EU Military Committee on 2 June 2021.

I had the pleasure to speak at the event alongside the keynote speaker Mr Kitack Lim, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization, and the Portuguese Special Representative for Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea.

In my talk I reviewed the current strategy choices of the EU. I highlighted a number of current challenges, which includes in what kind of command structures the EU operates abroad to address piracy and other blue crimes, the relationship to NATO’s work on maritime security, and the issues linked to the Brexit process.

I also argued for the need to pay more attention to arising matters, including the environmental security agenda at sea, the consequences of climate change, and the importance of subsea data cables.

I concluded in suggesting to revisit the EU Maritime Security Strategy and calling for an open dialogue with NATO on the matter.

Attending SHADE: The key military coordination mechanism in the Western Indian Ocean

The Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) mechanism is a brainchild of the responses to piracy off the coast of Somalia. It is the key instrument through which the various navies coordinate each others activities and arrange for the International Coordinated Transit Corridor, and convoys and patrols in the Western Indian Ocean region. It is also the main mechanism through which the transport industry and navies collaborate on a strategic level. The successful coordination in SHADE is one of the key factors explaining the decline of Somali piracy.

On the 27th of May, the 48th SHADE meeting took place as usually held in Bahrain. This time it was complemented by an online participation platform through which I had the honor to address the participants.

At the meeting, I presented some of the key insights from the SafeSeas survey of regional maritime security alignments in the Indo Pacific. I provided an overview and emphasized that institutional proliferation is problematic. In consequence, SHADE must ask how it sits in this environment, and how it wants to continue its work in the long run.

This is ever more important as SHADE in the meantime is a platform for discussing various maritime security issues. As reflected in the presentations at the meeting this includes, illegal fishing, smuggling, or the security situations around the Yemeni coast and Strait of Hormuz.

EU-China Expert Meeting on Maritime Security

On the 26th and 27th of May, I had the pleasure to attend the 2nd expert meeting of the EU and China on maritime security organized by the European External Action Service in collaboration with the National Institute for South CHina Sea Studies.

The first session centered on different interpretations of the Indo-Pacific as a recent regional construct and how the EU is planning to engage with the region in the framework of its new Indo-Pacific strategy. The second session focused on the Indian Ocean and the challenges linked to blue crime. In my contribution to this session, I stressed the importance of taking a holistic understanding and paying attention to the inter-linkages between blue crimes and the associated problem of institutional proliferation in the region. I also flagged climate change and submarine data cable protection as two vital future issues on the maritime security agenda, and new fields for EU-China collaboration.

The second day focused on the South China Sea and on identifying pathways for better collaboration in the area.

What are the root causes of maritime piracy? A SafeSeas Webinar

What the root causes of maritime piracy are and how they can be addressed through external assistance remains one of the most pertinent questions of maritime security policy. This was the core problem that we addressed in a recent SafeSeas webinar.

The event centered around the recently published book “Piratelands. Governance and Maritime Piracy” by Ursula Daxecker and Brandon Prins (Oxford University Press). In addition to the authors, four commentators contributed to the debate: Stig Jarle Hansen, Anja Shortland, Jessica Larsen, and myself.

In my contribution, I stressed the importance of thinking local and paying more attention to the sub-national level of root causes, the need to better understand the inter-linkages of blue crimes, as well as working towards predictive models that can tell us what to do now to prevent the rise of the pirates of tomorrow.

A video recording of the event is available on the SafeSeas Youtube Channel. Follow the channel for future events.

Climate Change & Cables: Presentation at UK Maritime Threat Group

On the 22nd of April I had the pleasure to give a presentation together with Tim Edmunds at the UK Maritime Threat Group. In the presentation we introduced the work and main findings of SafeSeas. In my part of the presentation I particularly flagged questions of the impact of climate change on maritime security as well as the importance of submarine data cables drawing on our recently published article.

A summary and discussion of the presentation is available on the SafeSeas website.

Annual Conference of the International Studies Association (ISA)

From the 6th to the 9th of April I am attending the annual conference of the ISA. The conference which continues to be the main meeting place for scholars in International Relations is fully virtual this year. I am giving short presentations at three different roundtables which concern key themes that I am concerned about theoretically at the moment.

The first roundtable, organised by Simon Pratt from the (U Bristol) and Rebecca Adler-NIssen (U Copenhagen) discusses how we can better study implicit and tacit knowledge and how the concept of “folk theory” might be useful to do so.

The second roundtable is a discussion on the potential of international political design. Design is here understood as redirecting social science towards the making of a diverse range of objects, and going beyond written text. Given my interests in working with practitioners, co-production, the design discourse provides interesting new directions. The roundtable is organized by Jon Austin and Anna Leander (Graduate Institute, Geneva).

The third roundtable that Filippo Costa Brunelli (St Andrews) and I have organized concerns the informalization of world politics. Scholars from different corners of International Relations will reflect on their work on informality, when and how global governors and statesmen turn to informal forums, such as the G groups, or world conferences, and what the consequences of this shift is. At the roundtable I will talk about my long term research with the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), which is a paradigmatic case of a contemporary informal governance mechanism.

Talk at Ocean Seminar Series

On the 24th of February I am giving a talk on Maritime Domain Awareness and its effects at the MARIPOLDATA Ocean Seminar Series organized by the University of Vienna.

The speaker series is organized by the ERC funded research project MARIPOLDATA that studies the power and influence of marine biodiversity data on ocean governance.

My talk draws on my recent book chapter that summarized the historical development of a global network of MDA centers. I theorize these developments through the conceptual framework of “epistemic infrastructures” that I developed in a 2015 article. The framework invites to study the practices through which MDA is designed, maintained and repaired. Contact me to receive the draft paper.

Upcoming workshop on international practice research

What are the current gaps and trends in international practice research? This is the core question that we will investigate at an upcoming online workshop on February 18th and 19th.

Co-organized by the EISA Section on International Practices, the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, and the Center for Global Cooperation Research, University of Duisburg-Essen, we will discuss in two afternoons the state of practice research, future themes, as well as a set of ongoing projects from new voices in the debate. Davide Nicolini will provide the keynote address titled “Revisiting the Relationship between Practice and (Academic) Theory from a Praxeological Perspective”.

Find the detailed program and registration link here.

Presentation at major meeting on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea

This week the most important informal governance forum addressing piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea, is holding its meeting. A recording of the event is available here.

Upon invitation of the current chair, the US Department of State, I am giving a joint presentation with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We were invited to speak about how academic research might inform counter-piracy efforts.

The background is our research project AMARIS which is funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. AMARIS analyses maritime insecurity in Ghana, and aims at informing policy by studying a paradigmatic case in the region. Our questions are: What can be learned from Ghana for the region? How can maritime security governance be reformed and what is the role of international assistance?

In the presentation I argue that academics can inform responses, on three levels:

  1. Providing a better understanding of what the problem of piracy actually is by contextualising it, comparing it, and offering insights on structures, change and root causes.
  2. By analysing what works and what doesn’t and laying out new alternative actions not previously considered.
  3. In being directly part of the response, through awareness raising measures, science diplomacy or training and education activities.

With the presentation I hope to address some of the misunderstandings in terms of what academics can do and what not, but also ensure a more productive dialogue.

Contact me, if you are interested in a copy of the presentation or want to watch the video.

Submarine cables and the politics of infrastructure

Drawing on our recent work on the governance of submarine data cables, Tobias Liebetrau and I presented some first findings concerning the politics of this infrastructure at an event on the 27th of November.

The Conference, organized by the Munich Center for Technology in Society had the theme of “Logistical Power. Infrastructure and State Formation Beyond the Nation State”.

In our presentation we paid particular attention to the question of when and how infrastructures, such as the submarine data cable network, become visible and invisible.