Christian Bueger

Presentation on data infrastructure in the Atlantic

What are the threats, risks and challenges linked to subsea data infrastructure in the Atlantic region? This is the key question that I explore at a presentation in an Atlantic Centre Seminar titled “Shifts in world geopolitics: cooperation and competition in the Atlantic” on 25.2.

I argue that subsea infrastructure is too often a neglected object on both the maritime security and cyber security agendas, although it is vital for the digital economy. I discuss some of the threats to the infrastructure as well as ideas of how the cables might be better protected. The presentation draws on the research on subsea data cables that I am currently carrying out with Tobias Liebetrau, and that is also one workstream in the Ocean Infrastructures project. The recording of the event is available here, with my talk starting at

PhD on Banks as Security Actors defended

On the 18th of February I had the pleasure to participate in the evaluation of Dr. Esme Bosma’s Phd dissertation at the University of Amsterdam. In what is a stellar analysis Dr. Bosma investigated how banks increasingly assume a role in counter-terrorism and rely on new digital technology to do so. The thesis advanced an innovative framework based on ideas from Science and Technology Studies, Security Studies and Ethnography and offers a rich empirical account of the changing practices within banks.

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.

Maritime Security Course in Copenhagen

This week the term starts at the University of Copenhagen and over the next weeks I am teaching a new iteration of my course on maritime security. In the course we revisit the basics of maritime security, by investigating its history, complexity, before turning to the role of different actors and the genuine responses one finds implemented (e.g. maritime domain awareness, maritime security strategies, capacity building).

As in earlier iterations, participants in the course also conduct a small scale research project on maritime security which will lead to new Wikipedia entries on maritime security being published.

Presentation at SHADE Meeting

SHADE – an acronym for Shared Awareness and Deconfliction — is the key forum in which the activities of navies in the Western Ocean are coordinated. Originating in the response to Somali piracy, SHADE know has a wider outlook on maritime crime and naval activities.

On the 2nd of February, SHADE held its 49th meeting, and I had the pleasure to address the participants. In my short presentation, I investigated the current and future role of the forum in the maritime security architecture of the Western Indian Ocean. I argued that SHADE is becoming more and more important because of the growing insecurity in the region as well as new naval activities which are geopolitically motivated and for instance linked to the rise of the Indo-Pacific as a geo-strategic region. SHADE will be important as a way out of the militarization dilemma in the region, to complement the diplomatic work of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, but also to address future tasks related to e.g. maritime accident responses.

What are the consequences of Indo-Pacific thinking for small island states?

In a new commentary published in the Seychelles Research Journal I discuss what impact the rise of thinking in terms of the Indo-Pacific might have for islands. I argue that the geopolitical thinking implied by the new region will make it difficult for small islands to position themselves. I draw on the case of Seychelles to lay out the challenges ahead. The short piece will be interesting for those concerned about small state diplomacy and the debate on the Indo-Pacific.

Time for a new strategic vision? The upcoming Plenary of Contact Group on Piracy

Since more than a decade the international Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) has been one of the guardians of maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean. An informal governance forum with a direct link to the UN Security Council the group has been the key platform for strategizing the response to piracy among the international community. Bringing together senior diplomats, international and regional organizations, the industry, NGOs and academics, the success in containing piracy in the region can be directly attributed to the group.

I have been following the work of the group very closely, first, in leading on a Lessons Learned Project for the group, then as a strategy advisor for the chairmanship of the Republic of Seychelles (2016-2017). In 2019 we produced a strategic review of the group, which was discussed at a meeting co-hosted by the University of Copenhagen, Danish Shipping and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. More recently I have been involved as an expert in the Strategic Planning Steering Group, supporting the chair, that produced a new strategic vision for the platform.

The Contact Group has been grappling over the last years with its future role, considering the international consent that piracy off the coast of Somalia has been contained but not eradicated, and that there continues to be a risk of a large scale return of pirate operations threatening international transport. Gradually the group has reduced its work, in the light of the declining threat. It delegated some of its core functions, including the coordination of legal harmonization, capacity building or operations at sea to other regional entities, yet maintains an annual plenary at which the risk of piracy is discussed. This remains important not the least to ensure ongoing awareness for the risk of piracy in the region.

On the 27th of January the group is scheduled to hold its next plenary in hybrid format under the current chair the Republic of Kenya. I very much look forward to attend and follow the debates. The key issue on the agenda is the future role of the group in addressing maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean region. We can expect a debate on changing the name of the group and on different ways of how to broaden the focus on other blue crimes. This is not necessarily an easy challenge, given the number of institutions and organizations already active in addressing those issues, there is hence a risk of duplication, and the Contact Group needs to specify what it can actually add to these efforts.

Small Island State Foreign Policy – talk at Seychelles MFA

What are the opportunities and challenges for small island state foreign policy in the changing world political environment? This was the key question that I explored at a talk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Seychelles on the 20th of December. The event was hosted by the minister who gave a short welcome address.

In my talk I started in revisiting an article on the Seychelles co-authored with Anders Wivel. In the article we explored how Seychelles has managed to gain a global reputation and status despites its very low capacity. As we argued this can be explained by the ways that the country adopts productively the principles of smart small state foreign policy and by its style of diplomacy of diplomacy driven by pluralism and pragmatism – what we dubbed ‘creole diplomacy’.

On this basis, I discussed current world political master trends that are likely to influence the status and diplomatic action space of Seychelles, emphasizing 1) the return of geopolitics, in particular given the rise of Indo-Pacific thinking, 2) the rise of informal governance and 3) the ocean revolution. Each of these trends creates new challenges and opportunities. The analysis is forthcoming as a short article in the Seychelles Research Journal.

Based on this analysis I made five proposals for how Seychelles can seize opportunities and continue its entrepreneurial style of diplomacy. Firstly, Seychelles should look east and strengthen its bilateral relations to Maldives and Sri Lanka, but also seize opportunities to work closer with Southeast Asia and the islands of the South Pacific.

Second, the government would benefit from issuing a paper in which it outlines its own understanding of the Indo-Pacific, the role of Seychelles therein, and its vision for the future of this regional construct.

Thirdly, the country could benefit from better coordinating its ocean-related diplomacy under the notion of ‘blue diplomacy’. This could entail the creation of the post of an ocean ambassador who coordinates participation in ocean summits, adds a face to Seychelles ocean politics and speaks on behalf of Seychellois marine life.

Fourthly, I argued for the need to continue strong advocacy and campaigning work on core ocean issues. This could particularly focus on three issues: Plastic pollution and the global campaign against plastics; the prevention of and response to shipping accidents, that requires more surveillance of shipping activities but also capacity building on a regional level; and supporting the ban of deep sea mineral mining.

Fifthly, I suggested that Seychelles can draw on its reputation as an innovator in developing the blue economy and maritime security agendas to drive forward the discussion of how synergies between both can be build.

The event continued with a discussion of creole diplomacy, the implications of the Indo-Pacific construct for Seychelles and which issues the foreign policy might want to focus on.