Christian Bueger


EJIS: New BISA / Cambridge UP Journal on Security

EISAt this years conference of the International Studies Association the first meeting of the Editorial Board of the new European Journal of International Security was held. The journal is a collaboration between the British International Studies Association and Cambridge University Press. The editorial team, led by Professor Tim Edmunds, is comprised of researchers from the Great Western Four alliance. The journal will published from 2016 cutting edge security research. The journal focuses on making connections between different styles of reasoning and methods, between theory and policy, problems and solutions, critique and innovation. The journal accepts submission of papers up to a total length of 12.000 words. More information on the journal is available at the Cambridge University Press website as well soon under . As an Associate Editor of the journal I am happy to answer any questions. Follow the new journal on twitter here.

ISA conference in New Orleans – The discipline meets

From the 16th to 22nd of February I will be attending the annual convention of the International Studies Association in New Orleans. At this years event my focus is mainly on theory and methodology. At a pre-conference workshop on Conflict Expertise organized by Copenhagen University’s Center for the Resolution of International Conflict I will present my work on the epistemic practices of contemporary piracy. At the conference itself I am giving three presentations: One presentation is on the sociology of the discipline of IR (WB57) and criticizes the prevailing emphasis on community as category of analysis. The second presentation deals with International Practice Theory (FB13). I ask what understanding of “theory” we might gain from the practice turn and in how far experimentalist reasoning provides new avenues for research. The final presentation (with Peer Schouten) is on the relevance of John Dewey for International Relations Theory (SD31). I introduce a forthcoming book chapter which is presented as a virtual interview with Dewey. Like in the last years, I am also participating in a Methods Cafe (TB02), where we will discuss the methodological consequences of the practice turn in IR.

Learning from Piracy – Article Published

Global Affairs coverAs part of the first issue of the new journal Global Affairs my article “Learning from Piracy. Lessons for Maritime Security Governance” has been published. The article is available as open access here. In the article I investigate the causes of piracy and discuss how to interpret the current decline of Somali piracy against this backdrop. I conclude in outlining what can be learned from Somali piracy for broader questions of maritime security governance.

Briefing on Lessons Learned to NATO

The results of the Lessons Learned Project of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia continues to attract wide interest. On January, 29th, I gave a briefing on the general lessons of the CGPCS for operations to NATO’s Operations Policy Committee. In the briefing I notably stressed the future role that experimental security governance systems can play, the potential of multi-layered approaches and the  importance of day-to-day coordination to enable a culture of trust and confidence. I suggested that piracy is a powerful reminder of how vulnerable the backbone of globalization, the international sea, is. If the challenge of the 1990s was how to deal with the new wars, and the challenge of the 2000s was how to respond to international terrorism, the challenge of this decade is how to respond to maritime insecurity.  In consequence, more energy is required for understanding the implications of the new maritime security agenda for international security. Please find the full text of the briefing here.

Workshop on European Diplomatic Practices

This week I attended the workshop “European Diplomatic Practices: Patterns, Approaches, Methods” at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Stockholm. The workshop brought together a range of scholars working with tools from International Practice Theory, notably the community of practice approach to analyze European diplomacy. The workshop revealed a fascinating plurality of how one can draw on practice theory to study diplomacy, and spurred an interesting discussion on methods, but also on some core puzzles, such as how to grasp the relation between routine and change, or knowledge and action.


Call for Papers on Maritime Security

eisa logoMaritime security is an issue area of increasing importance in international relations and maritime security studies has emerged as a cross-disciplinary field of study in response. Following up on a series of successful maritime security studies meetings held in Cardiff, Coventry, Frankfurt and Geneva throughout 2014, a meeting will be held in the form of a section of the Pan European Conference of the European International Studies Association (EISA) in September 2015.

Maritime security is perhaps the latest addition to the international security vocabulary. Several security actors, including NATO, the EU, the AU and the UK have launched maritime security strategies recently demonstrating the salience of the theme. At the same time security studies is gradually discovering the importance of the maritime dimension and researchers from around the world have launched investigations of security at sea that go beyond the traditional concerns with naval strategy and history. The meeting seeks to bring together academics and analysts working on issues of relevance to maritime security. The aim is to discuss a range of emerging themes related to maritime security, including piracy, maritime crime, human trafficking, illegal fishing, boundary disputes, blue economy, marine safety, port security, maritime security sector reform or ocean governance. The objective will be to build cross-disciplinary connections between security studies, international law, international relations and maritime studies more broadly.

We welcome submissions on any topic associated with the section, with a particular interest in the following themes:

• Contemporary Maritime Piracy
• Transport and Port security
• The Maritime Dimension of Organized Crime (Human Trafficking, Smuggling, etc.)
• Maritime Security Strategies
• Naval Strategy and Naval Power
• Maritime Security Sector Reform, Capacity Building and the Security-Development Nexus
• Illegal and Unregulated Fishing
• Non-state actors in maritime security
• Ocean Governance and Blue Growth
• Theorizing the maritime as a security space

Both individual paper proposals, and panel/roundtable proposals are welcome. Each 105-minute panel/roundtable will comprise of up to five papers/presenters plus a discussant who will also act as panel/roundtable chair.
Proposals (with abstracts of 200 words maximum) must be submitted between 8 December 2014 and 15 January 2015 (by midnight CET), via the online submission system.
Please note that there will be a participation limit of three contributions per participant — whether as paper giver, roundtable speaker, or discussant/chair (any of these roles counts as one contribution).
The conference takes place on the 23-26.9.2015 in Giardini Naxos, Sicily, Italy. Further information on the conference logistics is available at:
If you have any questions about the section or would like to discuss your potential contributions please do not hesitate to contact either Chair:
Christian Bueger (
James A. Malcolm (
Conference queries should be directed to the organisers at:

Talks on Counter-Piracy Governance in Odense and Hamburg

To disseminate and discuss  the first results of my ESRC project on Counter-Piracy Governance and the Lessons Learned Project for CGPCS, I am giving two talks. The first is in the frame of the maritime piracy workshop organized by the University of Southern Denmark (8.-9.12) and the second part of the Centre for Globalisation and Governance Lecture series, University of Hamburg (10.12.). The talks center on the question of how the global field of counter-piracy has been organized and praxiography can shed new light on this question. The basic puzzle is how coherence among the very heterogeneous actors involved in counter-piracy has been achieved and maintained. I interpret the CGPCS as a core nodal point in counter-piracy governance and argue that its work provides an anchoring practice and a script for action represented in the CGPCS communiques. The communiques bind together the set of practices (epistemic, interruption, capacity building practice) that structure the field and provide roles for the different actors involved. I sketch out three broad lessons from the study with regards to experimental governance, informalization and methodology.


What is Maritime Security?

In a new article, which is forthcoming with Marine Policy and now available as a pre-print version, I discuss why attempts to define maritime security so far have failed. I argue to understand maritime security as a buzzword which is ambiguous by design. Here is the abstract:

Maritime Security is one of the latest buzzwords of international relations. Major actors have started to include maritime security in their mandate or reframed their work in such terms. Maritime security it is a term that draws attention to new challenges and rallies support for tackling these. Yet, no international consensus over the definition of maritime security has emerged. Buzzwords allow for the international coordination of actions, in the absence of consensus. These, however, also face the constant risk that disagreements and political conflict are camouflaged. Since there are little prospects of defining maritime security once and for all, frameworks by which one can identify commonalities and disagreements are needed. This article proposes three of such frameworks. Maritime security can firstly be understood in a matrix of its relation to other concepts, such as marine safety, seapower, blue economy and resilience. Secondly, the securitization framework, allows to study how maritime threats are made and which divergent political claims these entail in order to uncover political interests and divergent ideologies. Thirdly, security practice theory enables the study of what actors actually do when they claim to enhance maritime security. Together these frameworks allow for the mapping of maritime security.

Will the Seychelles become the regional leader in the fight against piracy?

The Republic of Seychelles is a front state in the fight against piracy. Hardly any country has suffered from piracy as much, with the tourism and fishing industry paying a significant price for the ongoing risks of piracy activity in the regional waters. Western states increasingly hesitate to devote as much resources to the fight against piracy as they have done since 2008 when piracy escalated. There is much debate on whether the naval missions CTF 151, NATO’s Ocean Shield and EUNAVFOR, commonly known as the big three, will continue past 2016 given the decline in successful attacks. Through missions such as EUCAP Nestor, IMO’s Djibouti Code of Conduct Process and UNODC’s Maritime Crime Programme much has been invested in building up the capacity of regional states to put them in the position to patrol the regional waters. Keeping piracy down and fighting maritime crime, reaching from the smuggling of narcotics and people to addressing the pressing problem of wildlife crime are the challenges of the future.

The Seychelles have been a main recipient of capacity building and they have taken the lead in prosecuting pirates. During my visit to Victoria and Mahe Island last week I was able to get an impression of the progress of capacity-building. Much has been achieved. The Montagne Posée Prison, where pirates are detained and await their trials or serve their sentence until they are transferred, has been refurbished and is operated following international standards. The construction of new court room facilities in Victoria is almost complete. Training for the Coast Guard, Airforce, prosecutors, police and prison services is ongoing and three mentors work with these agencies. The Coastguard has received three new vessels this year and radar stations are being built to ensure better maritime domain awareness. A new civil maritime police force will complement the work of the Coastguard, notably in ensuring safety in the coastal zones. While much has been achieved the need for more capacity building continues. While the equipment that the Seychelles will require to govern their maritime domain in collaboration with regional partners is there, capacitybuilding will have to increasingly concern the software. Recruiting, training and educating staff and establishing adequate management structures by which the new infrastructure can be maintained under the conditions of high resource scarcity remain major challenges. Efforts will also concern to improve the sharing and fusing of information and the coordination between the different ministries and agencies that are responsible for the maritime domain. It is clear that more progress will be needed to govern the vast maritime domain of the Seychelles.

Recently the Seychelles has stepped up to co-chair one of the working groups of the international Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. This is an important step. The region will require a leading nation that steers the debate on the future of the maritime security architecture in the region. Now is the time to take further responsibilities and start the debate on how the Seychelles can contribute together with partners such as India and the United Arab Emirates to the future maritime security architecture in the region. This will also imply to ask when the Seychelles are ready to become a role model and make the move from the receiver of training to becoming a training and donor nation. Will the Seychelles soon be one of the big three in the future of counter-piracy and maritime security?

Turtle or Dolphin? AIMS in November. News from Addis

When the African Union concluded the negotiations on its African Integrated Maritime Strategy earlier this year it received much appraisal. The continent had finally woken up and recognized the importance of the sea, its economic potential but also what needs to be done to secure it. The strategy foregrounds the economic development potential of the sea, and as Jan Stockbruegger argued on reflects “a particular ‘African’ understanding and experience”. The conclusion of AIMS sparked some excitement across the continent and spurred debate on how the many challenges of governing the sea efficiently can be managed. Critical voices were skeptical whether the document is actually a “strategy” or should be rather seen as wishlist, pointing to ubiquitous parts of AIMS, such as the construction of giant aquariums or kick-starting a shipbuilding industry. The more critical issue is however what the relation between the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the African Union will be in implementing the strategy. How to implement the strategy, distribute roles and responsibilities, and how to fund the actions that the strategy foresees. At present AIMS is a sensitive sprout that will require much care and indeed some fertilizers to grow into a strong tree. By summer the implementation task forces that was created within the AU legal office did not had an independent budget and an action plan and budget proposal hadn’t left the draft stage. A main hindrance for the work of the task force was that by the finalization of AIMS the bi-annual budget negotiations had already been concluded leaving little wiggle room for an AIMS budget.

What’s the state of AIMS now? To find out I met with the Taskforce in Addis Ababa. The taskforce within the African Commission remains a small team of four staff members. Its current main activity concerns the preparation of the work of a new strategic task forces. The new task force will consist of about 19 seconded representatives from regional organizations and member states working in a network structure. The task forces will lead the implementation strategy, prepare the budget as well make proposals concerning the organizational design what will eventually become a department of maritime affairs within the African Union Commission.
AIMS has had a slow start and not much of what the strategy has outlined has so far been translated into concrete projects. The first timelines of the AIMS action plan end in 2018. AIMS needs to catch up speed. 2015 will be the start of the African maritime decade. This might become a further incentive to make more efforts to translate AIMS into action.
One of the most important initial steps will be to follow the European Union account and to start developing overviews and mappings of who is doing what on the continent and what is the state of maritime governance, laws and institutions on the continent. A next step might be then to start developing a shared communication infrastructure, to ensure that the right people communicate to each other. Perhaps one solution in this regards could be a Mercury type infrastructure for the African continent. Given such a platform could be implemented relatively easily it might be a plausible step not only to ensure better continent-wide communication but to develop shared maritime situation awareness. The AU and the REC’s moreover will have to start claiming ownership and authority over maritime policy and start to orchestrate the diverse capacity building projects already going on, including those in place as part of the counter-piracy infrastructure in West and East Africa. Claiming such ownership will imply to scale up the involvement and indeed leadership in international fora such as the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

The AU can draw on much support in implementing the strategy. The EU has announced close collaboration between the EU Maritime Strategy and AIMS. That also NATO is willing to step up its support, was one of the outcomes of an academic seminar taking place in Addis Ababa on 20th of November. The seminar titled “AU-NATO Collaboration: Towards a strategic partnership” was organized by the research division of the NATO Defense College and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Ethiopia. If the conference’s main focus were issues such as how to fix the estrangement between both organization stemming from the Lybia intervention, the support for the African Standby Forces, or training and capacity building more broadly, maritime security and AIMS was a theme that was continuously referred to as one of the areas in which more collaboration appears promising. And indeed representatives from the AU highlighted the vitality of the maritime domain, and threats such as illegal fishing, migration and piracy.
For AIMS to swim with the cleverness, agility and smartness of a dolphin, more will have to be invested in terms of political capital, but also financial resources. The African states do not stand alone in attempting to tackle such challenges. It might be time to think about the roles different actors, and organizations, including academia and think tanks can play in supporting AIMS. Perhaps it is time to create a Group of Friends of the African Integrated Maritime Strategy.