Christian Bueger

NATO Conference on Maritime Security Regimes

Over the last two days I had the pleasure to participate in an online conference hosted by NATO’s Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Center of Excellence in collaboration with the three other NATO Center’s that specialize on the maritime. Titled the “Maritime Security Regimes Roundtable” the event discussed the key challenges of security at sea.

In my own presentation I addressed the question “Does the UN require a maritime security structure?” drawing on an earlier commentary in reaction to the UN Security Council debate on maritime security.

Military Politics – The state of civil-military relations debate

On November 1st and 2nd, I had the pleasure to participate in a conference titled “New Perspectives on Military Politics” organised by Royal Danish Defence College (RDDC), and the University of South Denmark (SDU). The conference brought together an interesting set of strategic thinkers, military professionals and academics from the North Atlantic community to reflect jointly on the relation of military and politics, and the state of the debate on civil-military relations. I had the pleasure to chair a panel at the conference.

Discussion on Maritime Security in the Indo-Pacific

What are the political and strategic implications of the new world political region, the Indo-Pacific? This continues to be a question that puzzles many think tanks and strategy makers. More and more states and regional organizations develop genuine strategies for this region, and debate if and how they have a role in the region. Since the Indo-Pacific is in the first instance an aquatic region, such debates often directly point to maritime security.

Maritime security, as we have come to conceptualize it, is comprised of three dimensions: 1) Inter-state relations and conflicts emerging from disputes over territorial claims, borders and resources and grey zone activities that can be harmful to international connectivity or the marine environment; 2) extremist violence at sea, comprised of terrorist organizations using or directly targeting maritime activity, or spillover from such activities into the sea; 3) transnational organized crime, or ‘blue crime’ including marine piracy, the smuggling of narcotics and other illicit goods, irregular migration, or illegal fishing and deliberate pollution. In many ways, it is the latter category that forms the conceptual heart of maritime security and it’s relate field of study, not the least since such threats are often transnational and emerging.

In the Indo-Pacific debate, often the opposite is the case. The new regional lenses often imply a focus on great powers and their relations. It is the inter-state dimension that gains most of the attention. Too quickly the discourse turns to what happens in the capitals of Washington, Beijing, London and Paris. The challenges that matter the most to smaller states, such as islands, the livelihood of coastal populations, or to the maritime industry quickly fade into the background: blue crimes, piracy, illegal fishing, climate change mitigation. Such issues are not only important because they directly affect the lives and human security of billions of people. They are also issues that can only be addressed through international cooperation. They are also issues that cannot be addressed by military means in the first place.

Re-centering the understanding of maritime security in the Indo-Pacific in such challenges, is an important reminder that our futures are not by necessity determined by great power rivalry. An action space of cooperation and shared global problem solving persists; an alternative future is possible. Navies will have an important part in that future, but solving the emerging challenges in the Indo-Pacific order implies to think beyond great powers and the military instrument.

These are some reflections that came out of my participation in an event on October 26th organized by the European Council on Foreign Relations Indo-Pacific Strategy Group, titled Comprehensive Maritime Security in the Indo-Pacific.

Do I supervise PhD projects?

On a regular basis I receive emails from people who are interested in writing a PhD dissertation. In this short comment I like to give a general response to some of these emails and provide some guidance to consider before you get in touch with me.

Firstly, I am always delighted to hear from great talent from across the world. In principle I like to help, but since I receive many inquiries, I am not always able to respond as detailed as I would like.

Secondly, I can only further discuss proposals and ideas for PhD projects, which align relatively closely to my expertise and research interests, which is in

  • theory driven international relations research that engages with contemporary social theory, in particular practice theories and related approaches (see my book with Frank Gadinger for my general understanding of practice theories);
  • studies on expertise and knowledge production in world politics, that investigates the role of knowledge and science in international governance processes (see my reconstruction of the literature here, and the approach I am developing here);
  • studies of ocean governance, maritime security and blue crime, that are interested in conceptual innovation, theory development as well as empirical depth. At present I am in particular interested in maritime regional cooperation processes, maritime domain awareness, capacity building and issues such as pollution from shipping, subsea infrastructure (cables, mining, etc.) and naval base strategies.

If you’re project is not closely related to those issues, I might not be the right supervisor for your project.

Thirdly, my current home institution, the University of Copenhagen has very particular requirements on accepting PhD candidates. One of the features of the Danish system is that PhD positions are paid full time positions. For the application process at the University of Copenhagen procedures see here. Key is a solid early academic track record and a very well developed PhD proposal that lays out contribution to the field, methods, organization of thesis, a timeline and why our department is the best place to carry out the project. PhD positions are highly competitive and my department usually employs 4-6 scholars per year across the political science sub-disciplines. The University of Copenhagen might hence not be your primary choice for carrying out your project, and it might be useful to explore other options.

There are many excellent PhD programmes in the world, and in particular the UK and German systems are comparatively easier to gain access to. If you are interested in writing a PhD in a maritime security or ocean governance related topic, I recommend to explore a number of other PhD programmes including possibilities at

This is just a small collection of places and supervisors to consider. Should you get accepted to one of these programmes and if your research is closely aligned to my research interest under extra-ordinary circumstances I might consider acting as an external co-supervisor.

Phd defense on practice, innovation and protection of civilians in South Sudan

I had the pleasure to act as the chair of the assessment committee for the PhD thesis of Anine Hagemann. Written at our department under the supervision of Ole Waever, the thesis provides a detailed ethnographic account how the protection of civilians in South Sudan was organised and recurrently restructured following crisis events, such as crimes, attacks, floodings or Cholera outbreaks. Throughout the camps that were supposed to be ad hoc short lived places of shelter became well fortified and logistically organised cities.

The assessment committee consisted of Professor Michael Barnett and Dr. Leben Moro as additional members. The committee agreed that this was an extra-ordinary thesis and following the defense on the 18.10.2021, recommended the award of the degree.

Dissertation on Mare Nostrum successfully defended

Today I had the pleasure to act as external examiner at the University of St. Andrews in the defense of Maurizio Carmini’s dissertation. In the thesis, which was successfully defended, Carmini investigates the role of the Italian Mare Nostrum operation in the addressing human smuggling in the Mediterranean. Carmini assesses the effects of the mission on the basis of documents and first hand interviews with Italian navy officials. The thesis was supervised by Dr. Peter Lehr.

Webinar on Maritime Security and Fisheries

On October, the 6th I had the pleasure to speak at a webinar titled “Beyond Maritime Security: Protection and Sustainability of Fisheries. The event was organized by the Foundation of the National Interest, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the German Embassy in Manila and is part of an event series on maritime space.

At the event I raised attention for the four ocean paradigms (maritime security, blue economy, ocean health, blue justice) that structure current thinking and policy making. I argued for the importance of better integrating the four approaches and the programmes and projects that come along with them.

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.

Training course on impact

Over the last four weeks I had the pleasure to participate in a training course provided by DANIDA Fellowship Centre. The course focused on engagement, impact and influencing, or in other words how research can be turned into useful expertise. For me it was the second time to attend a course with such a focus, having earlier attended the one provided by the U.S. Bridging the Gap project. It was a brilliant opportunity to reconnect not only to the debate on expertise in practical terms, but to learn more about the tools and tactics employed in particular by non-governmental organizations and development workers to plan for impact and “stakeholder” engagement but also how to record outcomes.

While many of these tools are developed against the “project logic” and ideas of documenting “measurable impact”, they are still productive to reflect on the various ways that academics can act as experts and translate their knowledge, for instance, through capacity building, networking, education, or even providing more policy oriented technical tools. Such tools might be concepts, narratives or policy options and scenarios, and hence go far beyond from the old fashioned ideas, that scientific research primarily develops ‘facts’ or ‘causal’ knowledge claims. Engaging with non-academic audience also does not necessarily imply to work with governments or power elites, but very well mean to prioritize work with NGOs and communities directly.

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.