The Concept of “Capacity Building”

Concepts are not only descriptive of our activities, they are also prescriptive. They direct actions and provide a certain understanding of how things should be done. They stand for distinct (political) projects. The projects analyzed in SAFE SEAS aim at building capacity for maritime security. While the concept of maritime security has been discussed in a previous post, what does capacity building entail?

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Defining Maritime Security

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.

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What’s wrong with the US Maritime Security Sector Reform Guide?

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”. 

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NATO’s fight against Somali pirates: the end of an unsung success story

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

Maritime Crime in Nigeria and Waters Beyond: A New Dataset, 2009 to 2013

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

What Future for the Contact Group on Somali Piracy? Options for Reform

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

From Military Vessel Protection to Private Security Companies: The Italian Anti-piracy Approach

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

Contemporary Piracy as an Issue of Academic Inquiry: A Bibliography

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

The Effective Maritime Security Management Model and its Impact on the Organizational Performance of Shipping Companies

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