Christian Bueger

Study on Subsea Data Cable Infrastructures in the EU published

Our study for the European Parliament on the vulnerabilities of the EU’s subsea data cable infrastructures is now published. The report is available here. It analyses the state of the EU cable system, identifies threat scenarios, and lays out a series of recommendations of how the EU and its member states can enhance resilience. Here is the abstract:

The EU’s subsea data cable network is both vital for global connectivity and vulnerable. This study provides a systematic review of the current security threats, as well as the actors at the origin of these threats. Building on reports and expert input, the paper takes stock of current awareness, preparedness and response mechanisms, both at the EU and Member State level. A number of recommendations suggest how to improve the resilience of the cable network. Proposals build on the need to enhance EU-wide awareness, improve coordination and share information across EU institutions and Member States. In addition, surveillance capabilities must be advanced, response and repair mechanisms strengthened, and the topic mainstreamed across external action.

How to theorize practice – New book chapter

What do we mean by theory? How does one theorize? And how does our understanding of theorizing change when relying on practice theories. These are the key questions that I explore in a recently published book chapter. I revisit the current debates on theory in International Relations and cognate disciplines. I then discuss what it means to think about theorizing as a practice. I end in laying out different styles of how one can theorize when drawing on practice theories. The chapter will be interested for those who want to use practice theory, but also those who are interested to theorize. The chapter is available as open access here.

New study on maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean

Together with Jan Stockbruegger I have conducted a review of the current security situation in the Western Indian Ocean. We show which insecurities are on the rise and argue that the rise of geopolitical concerns increasingly produces a militarization dilemma: foreign naval forces are needed to address insecurity on the one hand, but they might become a source of insecurity in their own right due to growing tensions on the other. We discuss if and how the current security architecture can cope with the problems, pointing in particular to SHADE and the Contact Group. The study is now available with African Security Review as online first.

New article: Maritime security and the Western Indian Ocean’s militarization dilemma

In a new article forthcoming with African Security Review, I analyze together with Jan Stockbruegger the situation in the Western Indian Ocean and develop the concept of the militarization dilemma. Here is the link to the pre-print, and the abstract below:

Ten years after the last large scale piracy attacks in the Western Indian Ocean, other maritime crimes such as illicit fishing and maritime smuggling have emerged. The spill over of conflicts in Yemen and Mozambique and maritime grey-zone activities have also become major maritime security issues. Yet, perhaps the most worrying-though largely underappreciated-trend is the surge of naval activity and strategic competition in the region. This is a major dilemma for the region: The region relies on external military actors to protect vital shipping lanes, but the presence of these actors also risks importing geopolitical tensions that could undermine regional maritime stability. How can the region address these maritime insecurities and the evolving militarization dilemma? We investigate the regional maritime security architecture to identify institutions that can help the region manage the militarisation dilemma. We argue that only the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) mechanism and the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) can help mitigate geopolitical competition in the region. Preparing these mechanisms to deal with the militarisation dilemma will be vital for the long-term prosperity of the Western India Ocean

New commentary on the maritime security architecture in the Western Indian Ocean

Reflecting on my recent participation in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) and the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) mechanism, I’ve published a commentary together with Timothy Walker from the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria. We argue that the recent reform of the CGPCS to include other issues than piracy in its agenda is important but that careful thought needs to be put into the question of how deliberations will look like in future. Read the commentary here.

Green Shipping Must Go Beyond Decarbonization – new op-ed

Together with Jan Stockbruegger I have written an op-ed on green shipping and the need to incorporate accident prevention and resilience into the green agenda. It was originally published by Maritime Executive on 10.12.

“The shipping industry is the backbone of global trade and supply chains, with 90 percent of all goods transported by the sea. The Suez Canal closure or logistical challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis have demonstrated our dependency on maritime supply chains.

Yet the shipping industry is also a major polluter. It contributes up to three percent to global CO2 and greenhouse gasses. Reducing these emissions is vital to reach the climate targets of the 2015 Paris agreement. Yet shipping was not included in the Paris Agreement. The basic problem: Since shipping implies the transfer of goods from one country to another, to which one should the emissions be attributed?

Drawing on the efforts at the main regulatory body for global shipping, the International Maritime Organization, at a new milestone in shipping’s green energy transition was achieved at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

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New article on maritime security strategy

In a new article that is now available as online first with RUSI Journal, Tim Edmunds, Scott Edwards and I discuss the ongoing maritime security strategy process in the UK. We reflect on the importance of maritime security strategy documents, the drafting process and then investigate some of the key challenges that the UK must address in the process. This includes environmental security, climate change, the rise of greyzone warfare at sea and the turn to the Indo-Pacific. Many of the observations will be relevant to other countries in the process of drafting a strategy. As usual contact me directly, if you cannot access the article.

New Commentary on subsea data cables

Together with Tobias Liebetrau I have just published a new commentary titled Beyond Triple Invisibility: Do Submarine Data Cables Require Better Security?

We investigate the question of whether we pay enough attention to the security of subsea data cables. Cables are the core infrastructure of the digital age, but they often do not feature prominently in security debates on national, regional or international levels. We argue that it’s time to go beyond this invisibility and raise in particular the need to consider this infrastructure in the development and peacebuilding debates, paying attention to vulnerable countries. The commentary draws on an article recently published in Contemporary Security Policy.

New article on the security of submarine data cables

More then 90 per cent of the worlds communication travels through the global submarine data cable network. Although this is a vital infrastructure we know relatively little about how the network works, how cables are protected and what forms of global politics they are part of. In a new article co-authored with Tobias Liebetrau forthcoming with the journal Contemporary Security Policy, we explore the current state of research and what political questions the network raises, ranging from hybrid threats and accidents to global governance, geopolitical contestation and digital sovereignty.

The article titled “Protecting hidden infrastructure: The security politics of the global submarine data cable network” is available as a pre-print on Academia. The published version is available here.

New article presents a model for changes in governance

In a new article authored with Tim Edmunds (University of Bristol), we develop a novel model to study change in international orders. We show the value of the model of pragmatic ordering by studying transformations in ocean governance. The article is available as a first view with Review of International Studies. Contact me to receive a free copy.

We advance pragmatist and practice-theoretical assumptions that invite us to emphasize ordering processes, everyday and informal activities, as well as experimental forms of governance. On this basis we develop a five-stage model of change:

Model of Pragmatic Ordering

The model integrates philosophical ideas with recent evidence from global governance research on the rise of informality and experimentalism. We then use this model to study the oceans, first zooming in on the changes induced by the arrival of maritime security and then second on the developments in the Western Indian Ocean.

As we show the oceans are not facing an emerging state of anarchy or disorder but are subject to a substantial re-ordering process. The model of pragmatic ordering is highly valuable to investigate the consequences of other recently recognized problems, such as extremism, climate change or cyber security.