Safeseas directors present at the Global Maritime Security Conference, Nigeria

Safeseas directors Timothy Edmunds and Christian Bueger attended the Global Maritime Security Conference in Abuja, Nigeria, on the 7th to 9th of October 2019. The high-level conference brought together 2300 delegates from 76 countries, and was organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Nigeria, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and the Nigerian Navy.

Christian Bueger spoke on the first day, leading the discussion for the thematic session ‘Balancing Geopolitical, Economic and Geostrategic Interests in Maritime Security Initiatives’. Recognising the complexity of attaining maritime security due to issues of sovereignty, the discussion focused on the importance of balancing the geostrategic interests of international actors with those in the Gulf of Guinea in order to identify areas where interests could dovetail.

Timothy Edmunds was the lead speaker on the ‘Future of Maritime Security: Trends, Emerging Threat Vectors and Capability Requirements’. A summary of his talking points can be found on the Safeseas website, and focused primarily on comprehensive approaches to capacity-building to achieve stability at sea. 

Safeseas directors Timothy Edmunds and Christian Bueger at the Global Maritime Security Conference, Nigeria

Other panels focused on areas such as the Blue Economy, regional cooperation, the role of civil society, and enhancing Maritime Domain Awareness.

Building safe seas in the Gulf of Guinea

Professor Edmunds delivering his lead speech at the Global Maritime Security Conference, Nigeria

On 7-9 October 2019, SafeSeas co-director Tim Edmunds was a lead speaker at the Global Maritime Security Conference in Abuja Nigeria. The high-level conference was organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Nigeria, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Navy. It brought together 2300 delegates from 76 countries to consider maritime security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea region. Professor Edmunds was lead speaker for the thematic session on the Future of Maritime Security.

His remarks set out the main contours of the maritime security challenge, arguing that these issues are of critical importance to coastal states in the Gulf of Guinea, and to the global economy and environment more widely. However, maritime insecurities are complex and multifaceted. They entail issues of national security, economic development, environmental protection and human security. They are also interdependent in the sense that problems in one area may lead to or exacerbate problems in others. They are transnational in that they are shared between states. They are problems of the land as well as of the sea, and present significant jurisdictional complexity, between states, between the range of institutions implicated in addressing them, and between public and private sectors.

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Workshop on Security Sector Reform in the Philippines

Safeseas research associate Scott Edwards was invited to attend the 7th Workshop on Security Sector Reform, focusing on Maritime Security Sector Reform and Governance. Organised by the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, and the National Defense College of the Philippines, the event brought together maritime security practitioners from various institutions and organisations in the Philippines. These included the National Security Council, the Coast Guard, the National Coast Watch Center, and the Navy, as well as non-state actors and organisations.

Scott delivered a presentation that focused on insights from the Safeseas best practice toolkit, applying it directly to the issues the Philippines faces concerning transnational organised crime at sea. Drawing upon the best practice toolkit, one area he specifically focused on was the potential means of facilitating more effective coordination in enforcement, including through establishing coordination structures and the potential of maritime domain awareness as a trust-building tool. He also facilitated mini workshops within the event that aimed at encouraging security sector actors to think reflexively about security sector reform and the challenges to it.

Attendees of the 7th Workshop on Security Sector Reform

In other talks, China, sovereignty and international law were dominant themes. Further discussions, however, centered on addressing capability in enforcement against transnational organised crime at sea, as well as the important role of education and the need to bring other stakeholders, such as coastal communities, into the maritime security sector.

Into the sea: capacity-building innovations and the maritime security challenge

Safeseas is pleased to announce an article co-authored by directors Tim Edmunds and Christian Bueger, and former Research Associate Robert McCabe, has been published in Third World Quarterly.

Titled ‘Into the sea: capacity-building innovations and the maritime security challenge’, the article argues that maritime security capacity-building not only requires further study, but should also be used as an archetype to develop insights for capacity-building and security sector reform more broadly.

Specifically, the article uses the case of the West Indian Ocean to explore capacity-building as a response primarily to Somali piracy. Through this exploration, they are able to examine the innovative characteristics of capacity-building in the maritime sector, which can be used to expand the capacity-building agenda as it is traditionally understood.

The innovations highlighted are: the way in which new types of regional constellations have been produced by thinking from the sea, rather than the land (building regions); the use of informality and networks as a coordination and governance tool (building networks); and the ways in which new forms of technology have been appropriated to make security knowledge production and surveillance an essential element of projects (producing maritime security knowledge).

While challenges and failures are also highlighted, recognising the complexity of the practice of building maritime capacity, capacity-building efforts remain novel in terms of design and approach, and therefore provide the opportunity to develop insights into how to improve capacity-building more broadly.

International Affairs special issue on Maritime Security edited by Safeseas Directors

Safeseas are pleased to announce that co-directors Christian Bueger and Timothy Edmunds, alongside Barry J. Ryan, have edited a special volume of International Affairs centred around maritime security.

The special issues builds upon on their previous article ‘Beyond seablindness: a new agenda for maritime security studies’ that argued that developments in the maritime arena have flown beneath the radar of much mainstream international relations and security studies scholarship, and that a new agenda for maritime security studies was required. In the introduction of the special issue, ‘Maritime security: the uncharted politics of the global sea’, they reiterate their call for more scholarly attention to be paid to the maritime environment in international relations and security studies. They further argue that the contemporary maritime security agenda should be understood as an interlinked set of challenges of growing global, regional and national significance, and comprising issues of national, environmental, economic and human security. The five contributions in the special issue set out to advance this understanding, with two having a more traditional perspective, while three analyse non-traditional areas.             

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New article summarises insights from Best Practice Toolkit

What are the challenges in governing maritime security? How can the capacity gap closed through capacity building projects? What guidelines can make such work more effective? These are the questions that the SafeSeas Network explored over the last years, culminating in the SafeSeas Best Practice Toolkit titled “Mastering Maritime Security”.

In a new short article published in the Seychelles Research Journal, Christian Bueger summarises the core insights from the Best Practice Toolkit. The short text revisits some of the findings and recommendations from the toolkit in a short easy ready manner. The article is available as open access.

Maritime Security Ideaslab in Copenhagen

As part of an ongoing collaboration between the University of Sydney and the University of Copenhagen, SafeSeas co-hosted with the Center for Global Criminology an ideaslab on maritime security on the 27th of June 2019. Titled “Insecurity, Crime and Cooperation at Sea”: New Perspectives on Maritime Security” the goal of the day was to explore different ideas from international relations, security studies, and anthropology of how our thinking changes if we initiate inquiry from the sea and not the land. The day provided an opportunity to exchange views on why and how the maritime is a site and a view point from which to explore the social and political differently.

In the background was the observation that the majority of social science disciplines have focused on the land and rather ignored the sea. What has been called “sea blindness”, however, is gradually changing. Increasingly the sea is not taken as an empty void, but understood as a rich space filled with meaning, actions and life. Emerging research challenges the land/sea dichotomy and is interested in connectivity, flows and chokepoints, piracy and other forms of maritime crime, or ports and maritime infrastructures. The six presentations of the day picked up these themes respectively.

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Welcoming our new research associate

SafeSeas is pleased to welcome our new postdoctoral research associate, Scott Edwards. Scott will be joining SafeSeas on our ongoing Transnational Organised Crime At Sea (TOCAS) project funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, and will be based at the University of Bristol. His primary role be will in assisting in the development of the upcoming evidence base that aims to improve our understanding of maritime crime and international responses to it, as well as assist in the mapping of regional maritime security governance systems.

Scott is in the final stages of his PhD from the University of Birmingham, where he analysed the role of trust in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations security community. In particular, he focused on the mediating impact of trust on the crises that occurred between Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, with an emphasis on maritime competition and parallel maritime cooperation. In his work Scott has primarily focused on Southeast Asian security issues, both traditional and non-traditional, which has led to various articles and book chapters. He has also produced work for Transparency International in the areas of Southeast Asian defence and security, and for the International Committee of the Red Cross on trust and diplomacy.

Scott recently attended various events with SafeSeas, including the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) friends of the chair strategy review, Counter-Terrorism Lessons from Maritime Piracy and Narcotics Interdiction at the Royal Danish Defence College, and the SafeSeas co-organised Roundtable on Maritime Crime. Summaries of discussions from these events can be found on our twitter (@Safeseas1).

Scott can be contacted at, or found on twitter @scottedvvards

Maritime Security Cooperation in Southeast Asia. Recent events in the region

From 13th to 16th of May a series of maritime security related events took place in Singapore which SafeSeas director Prof. Bueger attended. The Information Fusion Centre (IFC) – the regional Maritime Domain Awareness center operated by the Singaporean navy – celebrated its 10th anniversary, it also launched a new information sharing platform and held the annual exercise MARISX. For a summary of these events, see Prof. Bueger blogpost. He also attended the IMDEX Asia exhibition and the 20 warships on display. He also participated in the International Maritime Security Conference held in conjunction with the exhibition.