Africa’s Lomé Charter on maritime security: What are the next steps?

Edwin Egede, Cardiff University

The African Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Development in Africa (the Lomé Charter) is the outcome of the African Union Extraordinary Summit held in Lomé, Togo in October 2016. The idea of the Lomé special session was to build up on the results of previous summits held in Yaoundé (June 2013) and the Seychelles (February 2015) and to take the African blue economy and maritime security agendas forward.

The Lomé Charter is a momentous document in three main ways. First, it moves the African maritime security agenda from a mainly soft law, non-binding approach, as reflected in vital instruments such as the 2009 Djibouti Code of Conduct, the 2013 Yaoundé Code of Conduct or the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIM Strategy) adopted in 2014, to a hard law, legally binding treaty approach. Second, it seeks to accentuate the crucial linkages between maritime security and safety, and the huge prospects of utilising the marine spaces and resources as a key driver of Africa’s economic and social development. Third, it provides a legally binding definition, though framed in rather general terms, of Blue/Ocean Economy. Article 1 of the Charter defines the Blue/Ocean Economy as “sustainable economic development of oceans using such technics as regional development to integrate the use of seas and oceans, coasts, lakes, rivers, and underground water for economic purposes, including, but without being limited to fisheries, mining, energy, aquaculture and maritime transport, while protecting the sea to improve social wellbeing”.

In this blog, I argue that although the Lome Charter is a positive achievement, to effectively progress on the African Blue Economy there is a need to develop the annexes to the Charter to highlight the developmental aspects of the Blue Economy. Also, I identify some challenges that would arise as regards the actual implementation of the Charter. Read more →

Why be a pirate? Understanding motivations for piracy

Zamzam Tatu, M&C Saatchi World Services, Kenya

Following primary research recently conducted at Montagne Posse Prison, Seychelles, little has changed behind the drivers to commit maritime crime. To prevent piracy, a more nuanced approach to understanding the behaviour might be key to a solution.

Maritime crime, piracy and Somalia have become seen as synonymous in East Africa’s geopolitical narrative following years of prolific and highly profitable hijack for ransom activity of vessels in the Indian Ocean. Attacks have abated over the recent past, but the motivators to attack and seize a vessel remain unchanged. Arguably the intervention of international navies, the adoption of vessel protection measures and some resumption of the rule of law ashore have created an environment of prevention, but not necessarily a cure.

With special access to the Montagne Posse Prison, Seychelles in March 2017, courtesy of the Seychelles Minister for Home Affairs, M&C Saatchi World Services determined to find out why young Somalis commit Maritime Crime. M&C Saatchi World Services, like its parent company, is in the ‘persuasion business’; one that adapts established advertising communication principles into behavioural change programmes within fragile and conflict-affected states. In commercial advertising, understanding the audience is crucial; therefore gaining an appreciation of the factors that motivate young Somali men to put to sea, and motivate Somali societies to tolerate such behaviour, is critical in our opinion, to changing attitudes and behaviours towards maritime crime in the very communities that nurture it. Read more →

The contact group at 20: Challenges for the upcoming plenary

Christian Bueger, Cardiff University

In July 2017 the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), the main global governance body steering the international campaign to address Somali piracy, will hold its 20th plenary meeting in Mauritius. What issues will the CGPCS have to face and what should we expect from the meeting? In this comment, I discuss some of the core questions that the international community under the leadership of the current chair of the group, the Government of Seychelles, will need to tackle. The CGPCS will have to examine the current situation, further the transition agenda, and consider a number of housekeeping issues. Read more →

Towards Blue Justice: Common Heritage and Common Interest in the Maritime

Peter Sutch, Cardiff University

The importance and complexity of our political, economic and environmental relationship to the sea makes the evolution of a contemporary normative vision of the maritime essential. We need Blue Justice for the blue economy and for the increasingly contentious politics of the maritime. In this blog I want to make a plea for a renewed political theory of the Maritime – A second Grotian moment that generates a Mare Iustitia rather than a Mare Liberum.

In a recent and fascinating piece on this website, Barry J. Ryan urged a critical engagement with the sea and its architecture of freedom and argued persuasively for a normative vision for the sea. Because readers of this blog will have access to that work I want to start there and begin to outline the contours of blue justice. Barry Ryan took the tensions between the freedom of the sea and the idea that the sea is the common heritage of mankind (as well as our outdated distinction between politics on land and politics at sea) as the starting point for his critical and normative argument. He also showed how powerful states carve up this common heritage securing for themselves, rather than mankind, the commercial and military benefits of our common freedom of the sea. We can learn a lot from this – we clearly need normative principles that encourage us to pursue activities in the maritime with at least some concession to the common good. But the foundations of blue justice are such that determining the common good is even more complex than this suggests. The multiple and fragmented legal frameworks that apply to the sea divide the maritime as much as the freedom grabbing of littoral states. Read more →

Somali sea hijack is a warning signal: the pirates are down but not out

Christian Bueger & Robert McCabe, Cardiff University

The hijacking of an oil tanker on its way to Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, has sparked international attention. For almost five years nothing was heard from the Somali pirates. International naval patrols as well as self-defence measures and armed security guards on ships had, it seemed, solved the problem.

Between 2008 and 2012 hundreds of merchant vessels transiting the Western Indian Ocean were attacked. The area became the most dangerous water way in the world. Piracy became a threat to international trade, but also for the development of regional countries.

The hijacking of the Aris 13 – the first involving a large commercial vessel since autumn 2012 – begs the question: have the pirates returned? Read more →

International Relations Must Challenge the Freedom of Security at Sea

Barry J Ryan, Keele University

We should be embarrassed that so little has been written about the politics of the sea in the field of International Relations (IR). Traditionally limited to the study of relations between states, even the cultural turn that so reinvigorated scholarship in IR a few decades ago has maintained the focus of research on political phenomena that occur on land. Flicking through a basic textbook in IR one would be forgiven for concluding that IR is a landlocked discipline. As a discipline, its knowledge of the role played by the sea in global history is, simply put, too basic and thus dangerous. More often than not it comes down to simplistic statements about the freedom of the sea that are too rarely critically challenged. The danger lies when maritime commentary bases its analysis on this freedom, writing about it as though it has always existed, that it is sacrosanct and that it must be maintained for the good of humanity. Military intervention is usually justified on the basis that the freedom of the sea is a fundamental principle of human progress. The open sea, we are told, must be secured, for commercial reasons, for environmental reasons, and for moral reasons. Read more →

Towards Blue Justice: Common Heritage and Common Interest in the Maritime

Peter Sutch, Cardiff University

The importance and complexity of our political, economic and environmental relationship to the sea makes the evolution of a contemporary normative vision of the maritime essential. We need Blue Justice for the blue economy and for the increasingly contentious politics of the maritime. In this blog I want to make a plea for a renewed political theory of the Maritime – A second Grotian moment that generates a Mare Iustitia rather than a Mare Liberum.

In a recent and fascinating piece on this website, Barry J. Ryan urged a critical engagement with the sea and its architecture of freedom and argued persuasively for a normative vision for the sea. Because readers of this blog will have access to that work I want to start there and begin to outline the contours of blue justice. Barry Ryan took the tensions between the freedom of the sea and the idea that the sea is the common heritage of mankind (as well as our outdated distinction between politics on land and politics at sea) as the starting point for his critical and normative argument. He also showed how powerful states carve up this common heritage securing for themselves, rather than mankind, the commercial and military benefits of our common freedom of the sea. We can learn a lot from this – we clearly need normative principles that encourage us to pursue activities in the maritime with at least some concession to the common good. But the foundations of blue justice are such that determining the common good is even more complex than this suggests. The multiple and fragmented legal frameworks that apply to the sea divide the maritime as much as the freedom grabbing of littoral states. Read more →

International Relations Must Challenge the Freedom of Security at Sea

Barry J Ryan, Keele University

We should be embarrassed that so little has been written about the politics of the sea in the field of International Relations (IR). Traditionally limited to the study of relations between states, even the cultural turn that so reinvigorated scholarship in IR a few decades ago has maintained the focus of research on political phenomena that occur on land. Flicking through a basic textbook in IR one would be forgiven for concluding that IR is a landlocked discipline. As a discipline, its knowledge of the role played by the sea in global history is, simply put, too basic and thus dangerous. More often than not it comes down to simplistic statements about the freedom of the sea that are too rarely critically challenged. The danger lies when maritime commentary bases its analysis on this freedom, writing about it as though it has always existed, that it is sacrosanct and that it must be maintained for the good of humanity. Military intervention is usually justified on the basis that the freedom of the sea is a fundamental principle of human progress. The open sea, we are told, must be secured, for commercial reasons, for environmental reasons, and for moral reasons. Read more →

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

Christian Bueger, Cardiff University

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 (CGPCS).

panel

Recently, the High Risk Area has been revised, which documents that international stakeholders are altering the approach they take to contain piracy. While the US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) have announced in July 2015 to continue their operation, the mandates of the two other missions, NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield and the EU’s EUNAVFOR Atalanta, are under review. There are clear expectations that the EU will continue the mission in one form or another and maintain the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa, important for situational awareness in the area. These developments need to be seen against the backdrop of the assessment that no large scale piracy attack was successful since 2012. Notwithstanding, the threat of piracy in the region persists. This is clearly highlighted by the 2015 threat assessment of the military missions and further evidenced by recent reports of low scale hijackings and hostage taking attempts.  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 working paper. In addition the bibliography includes some titles on the history of piracy, and some general interest literature on piracy. The present version includes almost 600 entries. It documents the extent to which piracy has become a serious issue of academic inquiry, and how investigations of piracy contribute to general discourse and debates in International Relations, Area Studies, Maritime Studies, International Law, Criminology, and other disciplines. We hope that this bibliography helps you a little bit to find your way through the piracy studies literature. Please access the bibliography here.

Economic Factors for Piracy: The Effect of Commodity Price Shocks

Alexander Knorr, University of Colorado

The_Battle_of_Trafalgar_by_William_Clarkson_StanfieldModern maritime piracy has become a significant issue which costs the global economy $24.5 billion per year. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) reports that attacks in major waterways have increased over the past decades. Extensive research has been done with regard to countering piracy and understanding the resurgence of attacks since the early ‘90s. What are the mechanisms which drive different people in different countries across the globe to all participate in such illegal activities? One of these mechanisms is addressed in a research notes article recently published in the journal Studies in Conflicts and Terrorism.

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Norm Subsidiarity in Maritime Security: Why East Asian States Cooperate in Counter-Piracy

Terrence Lee and Kevin McGahan, National University of Singapore

Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are the three key littoral countries that border the Straits of Malacca, a major waterway and transit area in Southeast Asia which has traditionally witnessed a fair amount of maritime piracy through the ages.  While these countries generally hold many things in common, such as historical, linguistic and cultural ties, they are also differ significantly in terms of strategic and economic interests.  Despite these important differences, why have Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia been able to cooperate in implementing and enforcing an anti-piracy regime that has been relatively effective? In a recently published article in the Pacific Review, we seek to engage this research question. We initially draw on theories in international relations that are informed by rational choice to explain international cooperation, namely neorealism and neoliberal institutionalism. We argue that key developments of the anti-piracy regime are not fully explained by such rationalist theories, which often stress strategic and material interests of states. In fact, despite rising levels of piracy in the Straits that threatened commercial and strategic goals, for many years the littoral states demonstrated only modest cooperative initiatives.

Read more →