Maritime Security is a buzzword and no consensual definition has emerged on the concept. The absence of a universal definition is not necessarily a problem given the political character of the term, and the need for having country and region specific understandings of what challenges maritime security poses. In outlining situation specific working definitions it is important to avoid two approaches: Firstly, the laundry list approach, in which the concept is defined as the prevention of a list of threats, which is not further prioritized. Secondly, the normative approach, which equates maritime security with an idealized understanding of “good order at sea” without specifying what this order is supposed to be or whose order it will be.
Recognizing that capacity building in the maritime security sector lacks guidance and is too often conducted in an ad-hoc manner, in 2010 several U.S. government agencies, including USAID, published the Maritime Security Sector Reform (MSSR) Guide.
A focus on functions
The goal of the guide is to assist countries in assessing their maritime security sector and reforming it. According to Tom Kelley (2014), former assistant secretary of the US Department of State, the MSSR guide intends to illuminate “the interdependency of the Maritime, Criminal Justice, Civil Justice and Commercial sectors and identifies the functions that any government must perform in order to deliver what its citizens might recognize as maritime security.” The guide specifies so-called “functions”, that is groups of related activities. Six main functions are outlined (Governance, Civil and Criminal Authority, Defense, Safety, Response and Recovery and Economy). These are then further divided in “sub-functions”.
Last week operation ‘Ocean Shield’ terminated ending NATO’s six year mission to protect the sea lanes of Western Indian Ocean. Will the world miss the operation? Most likely not. Ocean Shields was one of the so-called “big three” missions fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia. Working hand in hand with the U.S.-led Combined Maritime … Read more
Christian Bueger & Amaha Senu, Cardiff University How do we know the sea? How can we understand the activities at sea, as well as the dangers and opportunities the sea presents? Addressing these questions is important for enhancing the public understanding of the sea. But it is also vital for securing, governing and utilizing the … Read more
Lisa Otto, Coventry University In a recent article published in Africa Insight, Lisa Otto puts forward the findings from her analysis of a five-year dataset for maritime crime that she collected and collated for the period 2009 to 2013. Analysis of this data, which was collected by cross-referencing reports from the International Maritime Bureau and the … Read more
2016 marks the beginning of the transition of the counter-piracy response in the Horn of Africa. Many states have already significantly reduced their involvement in counter-piracy. Recent revisions of the counter-piracy architecture raise the question of what the future holds for the main coordination body, the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia … Read more
Eugenio Cusumano, Leiden University The rise of piracy has informed major transformations in Italian maritime security policies. In a recent article in Ocean Development & International Law, Stefano Ruzza and I analyse Italy’s approach to deploy armed vessel protection teams on board of ships. Here I draw attention to a recent shift in Italy’s maritime security … Read more
Jan Stockbruegger, Brown University, & Christian Bueger, Cardiff University We have compiled a new version of the Piracy Studies Bibliography, which you can access as PDF here. The aim of this bibliography is to gather a comprehensive collection of academic works on contemporary (post WWII) maritime piracy, with a focus on academic books, journals and … Read more
Elena Sadovaya and Vinh Thai, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore To enhance maritime security in shipping companies, a number of compulsory and voluntary regulations have been introduced at the beginning of the 21st century. However, besides benefits expected from the implementation of these regulations, they have also had negative impacts. Nevertheless, industry participants had no other … Read more
Michael Townsley, Griffith University In the first decade of the 21st century, the Horn of Africa became the global piracy hot spot, with headlines detailing multi-million dollar ransoms, rescue operations and violence. The international response to Somali-based piracy was organised into three domains: (i) maintaining order in international waters, (ii) reducing ships’ vulnerability, and (iii) … Read more