SafeSeas publishes Best Practice Toolkit

SafeSeas is pleased to announce the publication of the Best Practice Toolkit entitled Mastering Maritime Security: Reflexive Capacity Building and the western Indian Ocean Experience.

The report presents the core results of the SafeSeas project drawing on 16 months of research and work with a wide range of partners from the Western Indian Ocean region. The report consolidates the experience from that region and identifies best practices to organise maritime security more efficiently and devise ways in which it can be effectively supported by donors. It provides guidelines for mastering maritime security.

Mastering maritime security requires reflexive capacity building. What reflexivity means in practice is demonstrated in this report by drawing on the experience of the Western Indian Ocean region. The report is an important toolkit for all practitioners involved in maritime security. It also provides an essential guide for the planning, programming and implementation of capacity building for maritime security.


SafeSeas to host High Level Symposium on Maritime Security Capacity Building

To discuss how maritime security governance can be made more efficient and capacity building can be better coordinated and its delivery improved, SAFESEAS is organizing a high-level symposium in Nairobi, on the 2nd of March 2018. The symposium, the first of its kind, takes stock of the past experience in maritime security capacity building and asks how it can be more efficiently delivered and coordinated. The high level event is a meeting of representatives from countries benefitting from capacity building, representatives of actors engaged in capacity building and a range of practitioners active in maritime security projects.

The one-day event starts with a welcoming panel highlighting the importance of maritime security capacity building. This is followed by the discussion of the SafeSeas best practice toolkit on “Reflexive Capacity Building”. The afternoon programme zooms in on dedicated practical challenges – fishery crime, maritime domain awareness, and the delivery of capacity building. The day concludes with a strategic debate on the future of international engagement in the Western Indian Ocean region. The symposium provides a unique opportunity to rethink the efficacy of capacity building, the cooperation between donors and the region and steer it into new directions.

Confirmed speakers include high-level representatives from the governments of Djibouti, Kenya, Norway, Seychelles, Somalia, and the EU, as well as representatives from CMS, EUNAVFOR, the FAO, the IMO, the IOC, UNODC. For an updated programme and further details see our symposium site and for further information or to reserve a place, please contact

SafeSeas attends 21st plenary of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia

Prof. Christian Bueger attended the 21st plenary of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast (CGPCS) held in the UN Offices in Nairobi in July 2017. Part of the plenary was a meeting of the Working Group on Operations at Sea in which the current piracy situation at sea was discussed but also emerging issues such as the spillover from the conflict in Yemen, the regulatory framework for floating armouries, as well as the recent version of the Best Management Practices. A more detailed report on the meetings is available at the CGPCS lessons learned website at

SafeSeas visits Southeast Asian partners

During a recent visit to Southeast Asia Prof. Tim Edmunds and Prof Christian Bueger met partners and stakeholders in Southeast Asia. They visited the regional MDA center based in Singapore, the Information Fusion Center (IFC), to discuss how the center provides important directions for other regional architectures. The also met with regional think tanks to discuss collaborations, including the Maritime Security Programme of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies Indonesia based in Jakarta.

The objective of the visit was to further disseminate the best practice toolkit and to prepare SafeSeas new research project on regional maritime security governance systems.

Oceans Beyond Piracy State of Maritime Piracy 2017 Report Launch

SafeSeas researcher Dr Rupert Alcock attended this OBP report launch event at the Riverside Park Plaza, London, 23 May 2018. The annual report assesses the economic and human costs of maritime piracy in four regions: East Africa, West Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. As testament to the ever growing global interest in piracy and wider maritime security challenges, the event attracted more attendees than all prior launches of its kind to date.

Key findings of the report include an estimated economic cost of piracy in East Africa during 2017 of $1.4 billion, with 1102 seafarers affected by piracy and armed robbery and 54 incidents reported in total. This figure represents a 100% increase in total incidents between 2016 and 2017. The spike in Somali-based piracy events in the Horn of Africa in the spring of 2017 indicates that Somali criminal networks are still capable of sophisticated attacks.

The panel discussion and Q and A session illustrated the complicated nature of the maritime security picture in the Western Indian Ocean, including the spillover effects into the maritime space of the ongoing political conflict in Yemen. One Earth Future (OEF) President Larry Sampler used the occasion to announce the foundation’s intention to merge Oceans Beyond Piracy with OEFs other programmes under the umbrella of OEF’s core branding, in an attempt to develop a more holistic approach to the foundation’s peace and development work in Somalia.



What directions for maritime domain awareness in the Pacific?

In a new blog titled “Uniting nations: developing maritime domain awareness for the ‘Blue Pacific’” published by The Strategist, Prof. Christian Bueger discusses together with Dr. Anthony Bergin which steps the Pacific region might want to take in establishing maritime domain awareness. As the blog argues, the lessons collated by SafeSeas from the Western Indian Ocean region are vital here.

Jeddah Workshop on Djibouti Code of Conduct

SafeSeas director Prof Christian Bueger will attend and present at the High Level Workshop on the Implementation of the Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct, held in Jeddah, 7 to 9 of May. Prof. Bueger will give two presentations in order to feed the insights of SafeSeas into the process. In one talk he will focus in particular on some of the fundamentals of regional maritime security cooperation, the transcript of the talk is available here. 

Indian Ocean Commission draws on SAFESEAS results in High Level meeting

At the recent high-level conference on maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean region, a representative of the Indian Ocean Commission highlighted the importance of the SafeSeas Best Practice Toolkit. As he argued the toolkit provides an important lesson for countries of the region, namely that they have to carefully plan and steer capacity building and avoid that any projects are imposed on them. As he emphasized national and regional coordination that takes ownership as its lead principle is key.

SafeSeas participates in discussion on maritime security architecture in WIO

The Indian Ocean Commission in the frame of the EU funded MASE program as well as the Government of Mauritius is organizing a strategic dialogue on the future of maritime security in the region. In a four-day conference core ideas for the region will be discussed and also a strategic meeting for the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia is held. SafeSeas PI Prof. Christian Bueger will be attending the meeting in order to feed in core insights from the SafeSeas Best Practice Toolkit as well as results from work on the region into the discussion.

The British Academy’s Sustainable Development Programme Policy Workshop on Sustainable Governance

Senior SafeSeas researcher Dr Rupert Alcock presented key findings and policy implications from SafeSeas’ initial 18-month period of research funded by the British Academy. The workshop took place at the British Academy in London on 16 April 2018. It was opened by Programme Director Professor Paul Jackson and was attended by policy makers from UK and European government departments whose work focuses on sustainable governance and capacity building.

Dr Alcock opened his presentation by tracing the growing global political attention attracted by the maritime domain and the world’s developing ocean resources, before outlining the core question addressed by SafeSeas: how can we assist countries in the Western Indian Ocean region and elsewhere in tackling maritime insecurities such as piracy? He then outlined some core guidelines for redirecting capacity building efforts that were consolidated in SafeSeas’ best practice toolkit ‘Mastering Maritime Security’ that the team launched at its high-level symposium in Nairobi in March 2018.

The presentation focused on three policy recommendations in particular. First was the crucial importance of reflexivity, and the fact that capacity builders often fail to sufficiently analyse the political context in which they operate, and often do not learn from what has failed in the past. Lesson learning, practices that reinforce institutional memory and transparency are the proposed solutions.

The second recommendation concerned the need for greater and more meaningful local ownership of capacity building activities. Recipient countries need to steer and coordinate capacity building and carry out their own needs assessments; they need resources for that and they need to learn how to do it effectively. The toolkit presents Seychelles as a case study of one country that has been particularly successful in doing that.

The third recommendation concerned the dangers of the project logic: the temptation to try to plan and map everything out in advance and allowing the timeframes of funding review cycles to take preference over dynamics on the ground. The solution is to develop bottom-up needs assessments as opposed to top-down modes of engagement.

Dr Alcock then participated in a constructive Q and A session, speaking further on issues relating to the security implications of irregular migration in the Western Indian Ocean, the nature and value of flexible and adaptive programming, the economic costs of piracy and the interconnections between piracy and other forms of organised crime in the region.



SafeSeas presents best practices at Pacific Island Forum workshop

The Pacific Islands are seeking to strengthen their regional collaboration in maritime security and are in the process of negotiating a new agreement — the so-called Biketawa plus agreement. To discuss how information sharing and maritime domain awareness will feature in the agreement the Pacific Island Forum is holding a three-day workshop in the Solomon Islands from the 17 to 20th of April.  At the workshop SafeSeas Director Prof. Christian Bueger will give a keynote address summarising the experience and lessons with maritime domain awareness in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. The transcript of the talk is available here.