Launch of mailing list for Maritime Security Research

Christian Bueger & Jan Stockbruegger

Maritime Security research is an increasingly important area of analysis and research. Research has seen a considerable growth, not the least because of the strategic importance of regional hot spots such as the Arctic or the South China Sea and issues such as maritime piracy. Yet, many areas of scholarship and analysis, notably security studies, are only slowly recovering from seablindness. Understanding the maritime domain and how it can be governed will require more and better research. To respond to the growing demands for more cooperation and cross-fertilization between scholars and analysts working on maritime security related issues, piracy-studies.org has launched a new mailing list. You can subscribe to the mailing list here. Below we briefly outline the character of the mailing list and how it will be used.

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Into the Blue: Rethinking Maritime Security

Insights from an ESRC sponsored Ideaslab on Maritime Security at Cardiff University, 26-27 June 2014

By Jan Stockbruegger and Christian Bueger, Cardiff University

IdeaslabThe concept of maritime security is one of the most recent additions to the vocabulary of international security. If security at sea used to be discussed in the frame of concepts such as seapower, maritime safety, or less frequently maritime terrorism, maritime security offers a new umbrella term, which to some degree replaces or subordinates the older terms and discussions. The salience of maritime security is related to the significant challenges that issues such as maritime terrorism, and, perhaps most prominently, maritime piracy pose. Piracy off the coast of Somalia was one of the determining concerns that lifted maritime security on the agendas of the major security organizations, including NATO, the European Union, but also the African Union or the Southern African Development Community. The rise of the concept of maritime security and the increasing importance that security actors grant to the maritime has so far been hardly reflected in the academic literature on the subject. While piracy in Somalia, West Africa and East Asia, illegal trafficking by sea, or the rise of new naval powers such as China have received more extensive treatment in the literature, the academic discourse is only slowly catching up with the empirical developments. Compared to the attention land based security questions receive, the maritime domain remains a blind spot of security studies and international relations.

Why an Ideaslab?

To fill this gap, the ESRC sponsored Counter-Piracy Governance Project at Cardiff University organized an Ideaslab to strengthen the academic discourse on maritime security. For two days scholars and analysts working on maritime security discussed their work and ideas across disciplines and raised general theoretical as well as practical questions pertaining to the maritime. The goal was not only to cross-fertilize insights, but also start to understand the connections between concepts, governance and implementation as well as the inter-linkage between issues on the maritime security agenda. The participants of the Ideaslab reflected the multiple dimension of the maritime. Human Geographers, Security Scholars, Political Theorists, Lawyers and Architects, analysts from the Royal Navy, the UK Maritime Information Centre and the European Union, civil society, novelists and the private sector discussed the future agenda of maritime security studies. You can download the Programme and the Book of Abstracts.

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Rising Powers in Maritime Security? Comparing the Strategies of Brazil and India

By Adriana Erthal Abdenur and Danilo Marcondes de Souza Neto

In the fluid, highly uncertain context of the post-Cold War period, rising powers have begun to engage more intensely in region-building, redefining their strategic vicinities through a combination of inter-state cooperation and military build-up. Although this topic has been addressed in depth with respect to China’s behaviour in the Pacific and Russia’s actions in the Arctic, relatively little has been published on region-building efforts by rising powers in the Southern Hemisphere. In the article Region-Building by Rising Powers: the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean Rims Compared, published last March in the Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, we compare the strategies that these two countries have pursued within their respective maritime spaces: the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. Although the geopolitics of those two regions are vastly different—broadly put, the Indian Ocean is marked by much sharper tensions and competitive dynamics—we find that these two rising powers have increasingly turned to the seas, and more specifically to maritime perimeters, as they work to increase opportunities and influence abroad.

In the case of Brazil, the government has drawn an analogy to the Amazon—long its foremost defence concern—to launch the “Blue Amazon” campaign, geared at convincing primarily domestic audiences of the need to improve naval dissuasion power in the South Atlantic, particularly in light of the discovery (announced in the mid and late 2000s) of substantial oil reserves on and off the Brazilian continental shelf in the Atlantic. Concurrently, Brazil has launched a naval upgrading programme that centres on the development, in cooperation with France, of a nuclear-powered attack submarine. Finally, Brazil has stepped up its cooperation with states all around the South Atlantic perimeter, in South America as well as in Africa, both bilaterally and multilaterally. Bilaterally, Brazil has become an important provider of South-South development cooperation to these states, but it also helps coastal states in Africa to conduct their own continental shelf surveys and to upgrade their naval forces. On the multilateral front, Brazil has worked to revive the South Atlantic Zone of Peace and Cooperation, a Cold War-era construct that had lost steam after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Through this effort, Brazil has tried to strengthen local states’ positions in favour of a non-nuclear South Atlantic, and one where the presence of “external actors” is minimized.  This takes place just as tensions over the Malvinas/Falklands have resurfaced between Argentina the United Kingdom. Greater attention to the South Atlantic has also meant that Brazil has reaffirmed its commitment to improving its Antarctic programme, including by cooperating with its South American neighbours.

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Africa’s Maritime Domain: Can the Regional States Ensure a Stable Regime in the Indian Ocean Region?

by P.V. Rao

The unstable and fragile political regimes of many of the African littoral countries in the Indian Ocean Region compound the problems of managing their maritime domains. Maritime criminal and illegal operations are confined not only to the coastal states but also to the island states of the continent. The inability of these states to combat the threats regularly posed by maritime non-state actors has resulted in the enormous naval militarisation of the African waters by foreign naval forces, Western and non-Western. How far and how long the states of the region should depend on foreign countries for ensuring the safety of their coastal zones will also determine the level of independence that these states will retain to keep their maritime wealth and domain under their sovereign control.

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Technological Solutions to the Piracy Problem? Lessons Learned from Counter Piracy off the Horn of Africa

Christian Bueger & Anna Leander

Insights from a CRIC Seminar supported by CBS Maritime, Copenhagen Business School, 26 May 2014.
cbscricThe fight against Somali piracy has sparked a range of interesting innovations of how the international community approaches an international problem. This includes new means of international cooperation, such as the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, by which the fight against piracy is planned and steered; the Shared Awareness and De-confliction Mechanism (SHADE), by which navies organize protection in the Gulf of Aden and coordinate the patrol programme, surveillance and the “hunt” for pirates in the wider Indian Ocean. The fight against piracy however has also sparked the development of a range of innovative technological solutions. Such innovations include new forms of information sharing and coordination through databases and communication infrastructure such as the MERCURY system; new forms of maritime surveillance based on small drones; new forms of information fusion in the frame of maritime domain awareness; the development of technologies for the self-defence of merchant vessels; and technologies geared to support sustainable livelihoods onshore and to provide economic alternatives to piracy.

Developers and providers of technological solutions, users of such systems and regulators met at a one-day workshop organized by the Centre for the Resolution of International Conflict and CBS Maritime at the Copenhagen Business School. The goal of the seminar was to discuss what lessons can be (and have been) learned from the use of technology in counter-piracy and what part technological solutions can play to contain and prevent piracy in the long run. This is especially pertinent in the light of two questions: What is the role of technology in sustaining the success of counter-piracy for a post-2016 era, when the international naval engagement in the Indian Ocean will be significantly restructured and downsized? And how can solutions developed for the Western Indian Ocean be transferred to other piracy prone areas such as the West African region? Read more →

Enforcing the Law: An Economic Approach to Maritime Piracy and its Control

Paul Hallwood and Thomas J. Miceli

University of Connecticut

Modern day maritime piracy is a world-wide phenomenon that poses a serious threat to international shipping.  An economic approach to the control of maritime piracy is based on the general economic theory of law enforcement that views offenders (pirates) as rational decision makers who would respond to threatened punishments. However, implementation of optimal enforcement policies is impeded by lack of cooperation in the apprehension and prosecution of pirates as a result of free rider problems. In this sense, controlling maritime piracy is subject to similar problems as the prosecution of the global war on terror and the anti-drug war.

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