Christian Bueger

The Royal Navy’s Hudson Conference IV: What directions for maritime security governance?

Merton_College_front_quadOver the last two days, I had the pleasure to attend the fourth installment of the Hudson Conference on Maritime Crime and Development, jointly organized by the Royal Navy and the Global Directions Program of Merton College, Oxford University. Over the years the two day conference has become a major format for the discussion between navies and academics on the challenges that the new maritime security agenda poses (a summary of last years event is available on

This year’s edition was on maritime security governance. Bringing together Royal Navy officers, academics, and representatives from various NGO’s and International Organizations the various ways that maritime security is governed were discussed. The focus was on the one side how maritime insecurities and threats, such as piracy, smuggling or fishery crimes rely on informal governance mechanisms which make them particularly difficult to address. On the other side the discussion concerned the governance of responses, ranging from problems of capacity building, to the regulation of private security companies and the shipping industry. In particular the discussion concerned the question of how one can cope with the flag state provisions of UNCLOS and the problem of open registries.

At the conference I presented my latest research based on the field work I am currently doing in Singapore. My presentation was titled “Maritime Domain Awareness – a key enabler? The South East Asian Experience”. In the paper I reflect on the challenges of the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) agenda poses and argue against understanding these in purely technical terms. MDA is a form of informal maritime security governance. MDA  systems are socio-political-technical assemblages par excellence and as such they imply new forms of security governance. In the paper (available on request, but forthcoming soon) I discuss a range of social and political problems of achieving what MDA promises: to coordinate maritime security responses across states and agencies by developing a shared understanding of what happens at sea and what requires action. As discussed in my recent blogs on the Singaporian MDA centers ISC and IFC, in South East Asia we find an interesting three-center system that might become a role model for other regions in various ways.


The History and Sociology of International Thought: A troublesome relation?

3-NUS_Logo_sml_wht-transWhat can the History of Intellectual Thought contribute to International Relations theory? Clarifying the relation between both projects was the objective of the Annual Political Theory Symposium of the Department of Political Science of the National University of Singapore (NUS). The symposium held on the 19th and 20th of March, brought together a range of key thinkers in the History of International Thought. There was some thought provoking insights for the Sociology of International Relations, too. Continue reading

Regional information sharing II: A visit to the ReCAAP ISC

JpegFollowing my recent visit to the IFC, this week I also had the pleasure to visit the second of the “big three” Information Sharing and Reporting Centres of South East Asia: the Information Sharing Centre of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery (ReCAAP ISC). The ISC was launched in November 2006, and is hence the second oldest centre devoted to piracy (after the Piracy Reporting Centre of the International Maritime Board, IMB PRC). The basis of the centre is a formal multi-lateral (government-to-government) agreement finalized in November 2004 which came into force in 2006. In comparison to IFC, it is hence a more formalized and institutionalized form of cooperation which includes a governing council which steers the work of the ISC. ReCAAP has become a major role model for agreements in other areas, including the 2010 Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) in the Western Indian Ocean and the more recent Yaounde Code of Conduct (YCoC) operating in the Gulf of Guinea. ReCAAP has 19 “Contracting Parties” which includes the East Asian literals, but also a range of European states (Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, UK) and Australia, Japan and the US. Continue reading

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Article on Epistemic Practices, the UN and Knowledge Production on Piracy published

IPS coverMy article titled “Making Things Known. Epistemic Practices, the United Nations and the Translation of Piracy” which has been in the pipeline for a while has now been published in International Political Sociology. The article has two core objectives:Firstly, to develop an appropriate theoretical framework on the basis of practice theory by which we can study knowledge production in international relations. My basis is here Karin Knorr Cetina’s practice theory as well as considerations from Actor-Network Theory. Secondly, to provide an initial empirical investigation of different types of knowledge production in the United Nations system. Drawing on the case of how piracy is made known for the UN Security Council I document three types of epistemic practices: the Quantification work of the International Maritime Organization, the detective work of a Monitoring Group, and the net-work of a special adviser. I hope that the article will spur some further discussion on variants of practice theory and what to do with it in IR, as well as how the UN works as a knowledge production organization. It is hence of interest in the debates on IR theory, as well as International Organization.

The article is available as open access in International Political Sociology 9(1).

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A role model for information sharing? Visiting the Singapore IFC

IFCFusing information from different data sources is one of the major challenges of the maritime security agenda. It is important notably for transnational coordination across the civil-military and public-private divide and to ensure timely responses to emerging threats and incidents. A shared picture of the maritime domain is also a trigger for regional security cooperation. Shared interpretations of the situation and shared securitizations are a known to facilitate maritime security communities. It is one of the lessons from Somali piracy that information sharing works best if it is organized pragmatically. Mechanisms, that thrive without large scale multi-lateral treaties, but work on an informal or technical/operational level are the most effective. In the Western Indian Ocean, the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) mechanism by which naval operations are coordinated is the prime example of such a mechanism.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) of the Singapore navy. The IFC is an innovative centre established 6 years ago that develops a shared maritime security picture for South East Asia. This includes piracy hotspots such as the straits of Malacca and Singapore as well as the South China sea. Yet, the IFC does not only focus on piracy, but the broader spectrum of maritime security issues, including fishery crimes and maritime terrorism (but excluding inter-state issues). How does the IFC work? And what can be learned from it for how to handle maritime security coordination?

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Contact Group website under new management

CGPCS LogoAs part of my ESRC funded Counter-Piracy Governance Project [ES/K008358/1] we have been selected to take over the management of the website and document archive of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS). The CGPCS is a global governance mechanism that was created to better coordinate the response to piracy off the coast of Somalia. Over 60 states, international organizations, NGO’s and the transport industry participate in this international organization to develop shared and coordinated responses to piracy. In the project we works with the CGPCS participants since 2014 in a lessons learned exercise. Managing the website and archive is a unique opportunity to study the work of an informal governance mechanism in great detail. We hope to be able to make the archive publicly available as soon as possible. The lessons learned project, the archive and the website of the CGPCS are available at the following address:

Counter-Piracy – Asian Style

3-NUS_Logo_sml_wht-transTo complement my research on responses to maritime piracy and to conduct a cross-regional comparison I will spend the next couple of weeks in Singapore and also visit Malaysia. The National University of Singapore’s Centre for International Law kindly invited me as a visiting fellow and will provide me with an institutional home. During my stay I will not only consult with fellow piracy experts and IR theorists, but also visit a range of information sharing centers and some of the core actors fighting piracy in the region. My goal is to compare and contrast how counter-piracy is organized in East Asia with the counter-piracy architecture in the Western Indian Ocean. The questions are: how can both regions learn from each other? What lessons does counter-piracy in the Western Indian Ocean have for South East Asia? In how far can South East Asia and mechanisms such as ReCAAP, IFC, or IMB-ISC be role models for the future of counter-piracy elsewhere?


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.