Why is Maritime Security Capacity Building important?

SAFE SEAS studies maritime security capacity building. The current re-evaluation of the maritime as a space of insecurity and economic opportunity has led to a growing awareness for the weak capacities of the majority of coastal states. Protecting territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zones, preventing maritime crimes, such as piracy and illegal fishing, and ensuring the sustainable exploitation of maritime resources requires significant law enforcement capacities, information sharing tools and working maritime governance structures.

Capacity Building in the Western Indian Ocean

Various capacity projects have been launched to assist countries. In particular, the Western Indian Ocean region has become an experimental space in which new means of developing maritime capacities are tested. The overwhelming majority of these project were initially a response to piracy off the coast of Somalia. With the decline of piracy, these projects are broadened to focus on maritime insecurities and law enforcement at sea more generally.

A series of multi-lateral projects addresses capacity building on a regional level. This includes initiatives such as the Djibouti Code of Conduct process supported by the International Maritime Organization and the European Union’s CRIMARIO project, the European Union’s Programme to Promote Regional Maritime Security (known as MASE) , and the EU’s civilian capacity building mission EUCAP Nestor (recently re-branded as EUCAP Somalia). Other projects are run by international agencies. The Food and Agricultural Organization is in particular active in fishery governance, the International Maritime Organization in the field of port security and search and rescue at sea, while the UN Office on Drugs and Crime works in different formats with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, judges and prison staff. In addition, there is a broad range of smaller scale bilateral projects as well as projects run by various non-governmental organizations that provide equipment, training or mentoring.

Understanding how capacity building works

The vast array of capacity building activities has led to question how these projects can be better coordinated to achieve synergies, avoid overlap and duplication and ensure the sustainability of the assistance. There is a clear recognition that capacity building should be based on needs and focus on the core gaps. Yet how can such needs and gaps be identified? And how can capacity building be improved?

SAFE SEAS is a pilot project that studies lessons from maritime security capacity building in the Western Indian Ocean. The project compares the ongoing efforts to restructure the maritime security sector in four countries (Djibouti, Kenya, Seychelles, and Somalia). We study how each of these countries is organizing its maritime security sector. To do so we use a new type of methodology for assessing maritime security sectors which goes beyond the current approaches, such as the U.S. Maritime Security Sector Reform Guide. In the next step we study how these countries have been assisted and what kind of experiences have been made. Drawing on this evidence and on interviews with capacity building providing organizations, as well as the receivers, we develop guidelines and best practices for the coordination, programming and implementation of maritime security capacity building and maritime security sector reform. Visit the news and results sections for further information.

The Team

SAFE SEAS is a collaboration between Cardiff University and the University of Bristol. SAFE SEAS is implemented by two investigators and has a total team of seven researchers.

// Professor Christian Bueger, Cardiff University

Prof. Bueger is the principal investigator of SAFE SEAS. He has been studying issues of maritime security, counter-piracy operations, capacity building and maritime domain awareness since 2010 and has widely published in the area. He is also the principal investigator of the Lessons Learned Consortium of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. Further information is available on his personal website.

// Professor Tim Edmunds, University of Bristol

Prof. Edmunds is professor of international security and the co-investigator of the project. He is a leading specialist in security sector reform policies and the politics of armed forces. Recently he has been in particular studying the security assistance in Somalia. Further information is available at his university website.

// Dr. Robert McCabe, Cardiff University

Dr. McCabe is the Postdoctoral Research Associate on the project. He holds a PhD in Strategic Studies/International Security and an MA in Military History and Strategic Studies. His book Modern Maritime Piracy: Genesis, Evolution and Responses was published with Routledge in September 2017. Further information is available here.

// Dr. Rupert Alcock, Bristol University

Dr. Alcock is a Postdoctoral Research Assistant on the project. He completed his PhD in Politics at the University of Bristol in March 2017 and holds an MSc in Development & Security Studies and Social Science Research Methods. Further information is available here.

// Alvine Marie, Seychelles

Alvine completed a Master of Laws degree at Cardiff University in 2016. His wider research interests include the Legal & Political aspects of International Affairs as well as Money Laundering & Financial crime. Currently, he is working as legal officer at the Seychelles Financial Services Authority.

// Njoki Mboce, University of Nairobi

Njoki is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Nairobi School of Law, in the area of maritime law. She holds a Master of Laws (LL.M), specialising in international trade and investments and has published several articles in refereed journals such as the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators – Kenya  Chapter Journal.

// Mowlid Aden, Djibouti

Mowlid holds a BSc in Information Systems and Management from the University of London with Executive Education at The Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS), Herzylia-Israel and ENA in Paris. He is currently a Director of Security Compliance and Managing Director of the RSO at Djibouti Ports & Free Zone Authority.


Funding and Partners

SAFE SEAS is funded by the British Academy Sustainable Development Programme [GF16007] and part of the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund initiative to strengthen development through research. It is implemented in collaboration with the University of Seychelles, the University of Nairobi and the University of Stellenbosch as well as a range of partners.