On October 26th I had the pleasure to contribute to the Capacity Building Virtual Lecture series organized by ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre. The centre is one of the key hubs in Southeast Asia for the collection and sharing of information on piracy.
In my lecture titled “Addressing maritime security threats through international cooperation: the opportunities and risks of forum shopping” – available online soon -, I argued that it is important to pay attention to the historical evolution of maritime security cooperation. My key objective was to contextualize the work of ReCAAP and related information sharing and maritime domain awareness centers.
I demonstrated how this history is one of changing security priorities, from inter-state disputes, to environmental concerns, to maritime terrorism, to piracy and to holistic maritime security thinking. Along of this history we see a continuous growth of institutions, forums, centers and other arrangements which aim at dealing with maritime security. Now clear institutional centers have evolved however, and the overall system that has grown can be described as overly complex or even fragmented.
That produces problems in its own right, such as the absence of global standards for maritime security reporting, but also risks of overlap and duplication. I also pointed out that one of the drivers of this is the tendency to create new bodies, rather than making old ones work, as well as the tendency, in particular by more powerful actors, to choose and pick which institutions fit their interests better, rather than working towards more coherence.