Christian Bueger

Baltic Sea Strategy Forum in Copenhagen

On May 11th I had the pleasure to give a talk at the 2023 Baltic Sea Strategy Forum hosted by the Royal Danish Defence College. The event saw the participation of the Chief of Navies from Denmark and Sweden was a timely opportunity to consider the current situation in the Baltic Sea in the light of the war in Ukraine.

In my presentation, I reviewed the current efforts of NATO in critical maritime infrastructure protection. While NATO has shown considerable interest in this field, including by the creation of a coordination cell and a meeting with industry stakeholders, the reach of the alliance will be limited, considering the need for civil-military cooperation to effectively deter, prevent and react to greyzone activities and hybrid threats.

Roundtable and book launch on international practice theorizing

On the 10th of May we are discussing the state and future of international practice theorizing at an event in Copenhagen.

Practice theorizing has become one of the most important approaches in political science and international relations. This roundtable reflects on the state of the debate in the light of the recently published book “Conceptualizing International Practices” (Cambridge University Press, 2022).

The book edited by Alena Drieschova, Christian Bueger and Ted Hopf, engages in conversations around key concepts, like power, change, normativity, or knowledge. It shows the value of theorizing politics and the international through practice.

Theorizing practices: Taking the next steps
Roundtable and book launch, 10.5.2023, 14.30-16.00
Department of Political Science, CSS, Øster Farimagsgade 5, Building 4, Room 4.2.26

Speakers: Christian Bueger (chair), Alena Drieschova (Cambridge University), Jon Austin, Rebecca Adler-Nissen (Department of Political Science), Bente Halkier (Department of Sociology), and Nora Stappert (Faculty of Law). All are welcome.

Conference in Singapore

From the 3rd to the 5th of May, I will have the pleasure to attend the International Maritime Conference, organized by RSIS and the Singapore navy.

I am also scheduled to attend a series of side events focused on different aspects of maritime security in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific. The conference provides an ideal opportunity to gauge where the maritime security debate in the region is heading.

Maritime security in Geneva

The Leadership in International Security Course is the flagship executive training by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP). I am delighted to teach a session on maritime security in the course on May, 2nd.

Maritime security is a vital component of contemporary security politics, and it is great that the GCSP includes it in the course. In the session, I will summarize the key insights from our forthcoming book Understanding Maritime Security (with Tim Edmunds).

A visit to the International Cable Protection Committee

The global subsea data cable industry meets in different formats, one of which is the International Cable Protection Committee. The ICPC is a key body that provide a forum for information exchange on technical, legal, and environmental aspects of submarine cables and issues recommendations to its members, other stakeholders and governments.

From the 17th to 20th of April, I will attend the annual ICPC meeting in Madrid. This is part of our research in the Ocean Infrastructure Research Group, and our investigation of the politics of submarine cables in particular.

At the event I will be presenting our research on cable politics, with a particular focus on recent surveillance initiatives, known as Maritime Domain Awareness, and the new focus on critical maritime infrastructure protection in the light of the 2022 Nord Stream attacks.

Practice gathering in Germany

What’s the state of the practice debate in international relations, and how does it fit into the broader landscape of the discipline? This is one of the key question that will be discussed at a workshop in Erfurt on 25.-28.3.).

The event organized by Frank Gadinger (Duisburg) and Oliver Kessler (Erfurt), follows up on two books published last year: “Praxis as a Perspective on International Relations”, edited by Gunther Hellmann and Jens Steffek, as well as “Conceptualizing International Practices. New Directions for the Practice Turn in International Relations” edited by Alena Drieschova, Ted Hopf, and I. Both revisit what can be done with practice theoretical thinking.

At the workshop, I am presenting a short essay titled “Making a difference with praxiography”. I am arguing that we need to leave the comfort zone of traditional theory+methods+empirics research and investigate how we can add to, interfere with, or intervene in practices. I propose a way of thinking about this centered on praxiography, the study of problematic situations, the deliberate making of useful epistemic objects, as well as three modes of engaging with practice. Contact me if you want to read the essay (by email or social media).

At the International Studies Association conference

This week I am attending the annual conference of the International Studies Association, which is the largest association bringing together scholars working in International Relations (IR) research. Joining thousands of participants from around the globe, I will be presenting our most recent work.

Together with a range of colleagues we have curated a set of interlinked panels titled “OceanicIR”. Across several panels we are investigating how IR can provide important answers to global ocean politics. In one of these panels, I am presenting a paper together with Tobias Liebetrau on the different ways that the subsea cable is considered as a political problem. I am also participating in two roundtables, discussing the relation of IR and the sea, as well as the question of Arctic sovereignties.

I am also attending a workshop on infrastructures, which precedes the conference. The workshop reflects on how infrastructures impact on global politics. Here I am presenting the overall work of the Copenhagen Ocean Infrastructure Research Group that I am leading since last year.

Next steps for the EU’s maritime security – briefing the European Council

The European Union is in the process of drafting a new Maritime Security Strategy (EUMSS) and critical maritime infrastructures is one of the issues it will address.

While the European Commission and the External Action Service are busy in developing a first draft of the strategy, a Working Party of the European Council is discussing what the strategy must focus on. Under the Swedish presidency of the Council, Member States will review and refine the first draft, which is expected to be issued as a communique in March this year. The final strategy is likely to be expected in autumn.

Briefing in Brussels

On February 15th, I had the pleasure to brief the Working Party at their meeting in Brussels. In my briefing, I first drew attention to the importance of maritime security strategy. Relying on research conducted with Tim Edmunds, I argued that strategies are key to deal with the complexity of maritime security, distribute roles and responsibilities, but also to agree on new challenges.

Three challenges are very important in this context: 1) how to response to geopolitical shifts, including the increasing use of grey zone tactics at sea, lawfare, and other disruptions, 2) how to relate the maritime security agenda to the climate and biodiversity crisis in the ocean, and ensure that maritime security forces contribute and revisit their roles, 3) how to protect critical maritime infrastructures.

Critical Maritime Infrastructure Protection

In the second part I discussed critical maritime infrastructure protection. I revisited the research we have done for the European Parliament in 2022, as well as the consequences and aftermath of the Nordstream attack. Zooming in on subsea data cables, I firstly argued that the cable system is not one, but several problems, and hence complex to deal with. The table below shows that analysis.

Not one, but six problems

I then demonstrated how the EUMSS can make important steps to improve the protection and resilience of critical maritime infrastructures. Firstly, maritime infrastructures, should not be subsumed as a ‘sector’ under the critical infrastructure protection agenda, since the legal and political context is radically different to that on land. Secondly, awareness and education must be improved, to ensure that there is a proper understanding of how maritime infrastructures work.

Thirdly, a coordination body in the EU is required to ensure the exchange of information, best practices, harmonize laws across the EU, and facilitate a productive dialogue with the industry. Fourthly, existing maritime domain awareness and surveillance instruments, such as those of the Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) must be used more effectively. Fifthly, given the inter-dependencies of the global cable network, the EU must seek strategic dialogue with countries, including the United Kingdom, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco on how to ensure cable protection. Finally, the EU should pursue a ‘deterrence-by-denial’ strategy and improve the capacities available for rapid response and repairing infrastructures.

Pakistan’s journey to the blue economy – conference in Karachi

Pakistan’s journey to the blue economy was the key theme of the 10th International Maritime Conference in Karachi that I had the pleasure to attend and speak at last weekend.

Following the debates in other coastal states, also Pakistan is increasingly trying to seize the opportunities that are presented by blue economy thinking. The conference in Karachi, organized by the National Institute for Maritime Affairs and the Pakistani Navy, had as its main objective to establish what blue economy may mean for the country.

The rich program incorporated the full range of sectors associated with the concept, ranging from traditional economic sectors, including ports, shipping and ship breaking, to value that can be generated through aquaculture and coral reef restoration. A parliamentarian called for a blue economy task force, and the minister for climate change gave a passionate speech on why blue economy needs to focus on environmental protection and climate change adaption, rather than profit. The conference without doubt succeeded to further increase the awareness for the oceans within Pakistan and promote the concept of blue economy.

The discussion in Pakistan is interesting and differs from other countries, as the debate in many ways is let by the #navy which understands itself as the guardian of the sea. As I learned over the conference days, the navy has made a strong commitment to marine conservation. In partnership with the IUCN, navy officers help to plant mangroves. A partnership with the NGO Ocean Quest was announced during the conference which will lead to joint projects in coral reef restoration in the Arabian Sea. This is remarkable, since in other national contexts the cooperation between military and conservation communities are weak. We might see a model case emerging here, how armed forces can engage in conservation. Yet, obviously also the Pakistani navy has to make more effort to evaluate and reduce its environmental footprint and green its operations.

I was also delighted to discuss a cooperation between SafeSeas and the National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA) during my stay.