Maritime Security in Ghana (AMARIS)

The negative impacts of maritime insecurities on development, trade and human security are increasingly recognised. What are the effects of current responses to maritime insecurity? How can countries with high levels of maritime insecurity be better supported? To answer these questions, the research project Analyzing Maritime Insecurity in Ghana (AMARIS) studies maritime crime and maritime security policy in Ghana.

AMARIS offers one of the first in-depth case studies of a country’s response to maritime insecurity. It investigates the manifestations of maritime crime in Ghana and the drivers and inter-sections. It studies the governance and capacity building response to them. AMARIS is implemented in close cooperation with SafeSeas and partners in Ghana.

AMARIS is a three-year research and capacity building project, led by the University of Copenhagen and implemented in cooperation with three research institutions in Ghana. This project is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and administered by the Fellowship Centre of the Danish Development Agency (DANIDA).


The goal of AMARIS is to conduct a theory-driven and in-depth study of maritime security in Ghana. It investigates the manifestations of maritime crime in the country (work package 1), the governance responses to maritime security that have developed in the past twenty year (work package 2), and the capacity building assistance that is carried out in the country by international partners (work package 3). Ghana is seen as a paradigmatic case because it is a country in the Global South that can successfully govern its waters. The research will reveal best practices, but also the tensions and challenges that persist. Theoretically the project draws on practice theory and specifically, assemblage thinking. Part of the project is also a junior analyst training school that aims at advancing expertise in the Western African region.

Blue Crime

Maritime piracy is the blue crime that often receives the majority of attention. Indeed, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea continues to dominate much of the news coverage of the region. Yet, blue crime is a wider problem. Environmental crimes, such as illegal fishing or waste dumping, port security, smuggling or stowaways are issues that also require consideration. The first work package of AMARIS investigates the manifestations of blue crime in Ghana to identify patterns, inter-sections between crimes and the core drivers behind them. This work package is led by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPTC). Its results will provide major new insights into the logic of blue crimes.

Maritime Security Governance

Responding to maritime insecurities is a major inter-agency challenge in which not only different governmental agencies play a role, but also private actors and coastal communities. Deciphering this complexity and understanding how the relations between actors are arranged and governed is the ambition of work package 2 of AMARIS. Particular attention will be paid to coordination tools such as maritime surveillance, coordination committees as well as maritime security strategies. Led by the Center for Maritime Security and Law in Africa (CEMLAWS), the work package will provide one of the first studies of a national maritime security governance system. The results promise to inform the wider discussion of how maritime security can be governed.

Capacity Building

Many countries negatively affected by maritime insecurity struggle with developing the appropriate capacities to effectively respond. In consequence, many international donors are assisting these countries through capacity building projects. Ghana is no exception to this. The goal of the third work package of AMARIS is to study the challenges that emerge in capacity building as they concern power relations, coordination problems and sustainability issues. The work package is led by the University of Copenhagen, supported by the University of Ghana.

Further Information

For further information and details contact Christian Bueger at