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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
As part of the maritime conference held at MAST Northern Coasts, Prof. Bueger, gave a presentation drawing on SafeSeas research on Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). He reflected on what is difficult in implementing MDA and why we don’t see the emergence of a Baltic regional MDA structure.
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.
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.
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 SAE195@bham.ac.uk, or found on twitter @scottedvvards
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.