Christian Bueger

Participation in SHADE Med

On the 15th and 16th of November, I am participating in the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction in the Mediterranean (SHADE Med) meeting. SHADE Med is an informal naval coordination mechanism that was created in response to the challenges that irregular migration posed in the region. It draws on the role model of a mechanism that was created for the purpose of counter-piracy in the Western Indian Ocean.

The focus of the meeting is on “New challenges to regional security in the Mediterranean”. In addition to operational updates on the operations IRINI (EU), SEA GUARDIAN (NATO) and MEDITERRANEO SICURO (Italy), the are a number of strategic themes that will be discussed. The first day focuses on the implications of the EU’s new Strategic Compass, published in early 2022. On the second day the situation in Libya, new challenges to maritime operations, and the interdependence between food, energy and climate change will be discussed.

I will be contributing to the theme on new challenges, introducing our research on critical maritime infrastructure protection and what the implications for maritime operations in the region are.

The strategic importance of subsea data cables for the African continent

Continuing our discussion of the strategic importance of subsea data cables, on September 22 and 23, 2022 we held an event with a focus on African challenges and capacity building. The expert workshop was organized in cooperation with the Atlantic Center, University of Cape Town, the EU’s Cyber for Development Initiative and Cardiff University.

The event featured speakers from the African industry, regional organizations such as NEPAD, UNIDIR, or the Indian Ocean Commission, as well as from South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique. Two of the key themes of the discussion were: 1) the digital dependency of Southern Africa implied by the lack of data centers as well as the weakness of intra-African connections; 2) the relationships and mutual responsibilities between states, local and global industry in building, maintaining and repairing digital infrastructures. Part of the event was an excursion to the cable repair ship that covers the East and West coast of Southern Africa, sponsored by Orange Maritime.

The event is part of our global dialogue on subsea data cables initiated through the help of the Danish Ministry of Education (DACANE) and the Velux Foundation (Ocean Infrastructure research group).

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.

Work with ministry of foreign affairs of Seychelles

In spring this year the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia – a multilateral grouping I have been studying over the last decade – has changed its mandate and name. This week I met with representatives from Seychelles and the Indian Ocean Commission who are part of the strategy group of the Contact Group to discuss the future set up.

Together we worked on the draft of the final report of the strategy group and next steps. I had also the opportunity to visit the Regional Coordination Operations Centre in Seychelles and to learn about their upcoming activities.

Ecocide Memorials?

While travelling, one encounters quite some memorials; they commemorate battles, heroes, accidents or disasters. During my visit to Eastern Africa, I had recently the opportunity to visit the Genocide memorial in Kigali commemorating the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and the memorial of the 2013 Westgate shopping attack in Nairobi’s Karura Forrest. These are memorials of human catastrophes and sites of contemplating how to prevent similar events..

Yet, in the age of the anthropocene, also animals face horrendous catastrophes and entire species are dying out. How shall we commemorate them?

A recent visit to the Ol Pejeta conservancy brought me to an interesting site. The park has as one of its many attractions a rhino cemetery. The majority of rhinos buried at the site, fell victim to poachers. They were hunted down for their horns. It sends a powerful reminder of the tragic consequences of the poaching crisis.

But perhaps most important is another grave. The resting ground of Sudan, the last male of his species, the Northern White Rhino. It is the first ecocide memorial, I have been present at so far.

Visit to Kigali

Over the last week I was visiting Kigali, the capital of Ruanda. As a first time visitor I was impressed by the beauty and tranquility of the city spread across several hills and valleys. Kigali is a rapidly modernizing city, with lots of interesting coffee roasteries, restaurants and bars. Contrary to Nairobi, life is calmer, and traffic manageable, and if you are ok with hills, it is a great and safe city to walk.

In Kigali, I was participating in the sidelines of the first African Protected Areas Congress (known as #APAC2020) organized by the International Union for Conservation and Nature in partnership with the Government of Rwanda and the African Wildlife Foundation. An estimated 2700 delegates participated in a week long discussion of how conservation efforts can be enhanced and what roles nature parks play in it.

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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.