The oceans are increasingly understood as a security space. Does the new maritime security agenda lead to new spatial configurations? This chapter introduces the concept of ‘pragmatic spaces’ to explore spatial configurations produced in responses to maritime security. Four exemplary spaces are discussed: how counter-piracy led to the development of high risk areas, how maritime security capacity building produced new regions constructed through codes of conduct, how the identification of smuggling routes established new forms of international partnerships, and how maritime domain awareness systems advance new transnational spaces of surveillance. These new spatial configurations were introduced to manage maritime security issues and enable transnational forms of governance.
The question of when and how international orders change remains a pertinent issue of International Relations theory. This article develops the model of pragmatic ordering to conceptualise change. The model of pragmatic ordering synthesises recent theoretical arguments for a focus on ordering advanced in-practice theory, pragmatist philosophy, and related approaches. It also integrates evidence from recent global governance research. We propose a five-stage model. According to the model, once a new problem emerges (problematisation), informality allows for experimenting with new practices and developing new knowledge (informalisation and experimentation). Once these experimental practices become codified, and survive contestation, they increasingly settle (codification) and are spread through learning and translation processes (consolidation). We draw on the rise of the maritime security agenda as a paradigmatic case and examine developments in the Western Indian Ocean region to illustrate each of these stages. The article draws attention to the substantial reorganisation of maritime space occurring over the past decade and offers an innovative approach for the study of orders and change.
In this video, Professor Christian Bueger (University of Copenhagen) presents the insights of a research project from the SafeSeas network. The presentation builds on a study of capacity building to fight piracy in the Western Indian Ocean.
This chapter provides first a discussion of how maritime security has been conceptualized and theorized and how the field has evolved. It discusses the more particular debates on dedicated maritime security issues: piracy, terrorism, smuggling, environmental crimes and the protection of critical maritime infrastructure. Although the oceans have featured occasionally in the literature on security, peace and development, it is fair to say that for decades scholars were suffering from what some have referred to as collective ‘seablindness’. A range of maritime insecurities have been extensively analysed. These include piracy; terrorism; various forms of smuggling; environmental crimes, hereunder illegal fishing; as well as a nascent literature on maritime critical infrastructures. With ongoing crises in different parts of the world’s oceans, maritime insecurity will continue to be recognized as one of the core dimensions of violence and insecurity. Maritime security also needs to be seen in the context of other international policy areas.
Transnational organised crime at sea is a growing international concern. However, and despite its importance, the concept remains uncertain and contested. This ambiguity has led to a tendency to focus on individual challenges such as piracy or illegal fishing, rather than convergencies and synergies between and across issues, and has stymied a concerted international policy response. Debate continues over the term itself, what illicit activities it incorporates and excludes, and how these can be meaningfully conceptualised in ways that both recognise the diverse nature of the concept yet also provide a basis for an integrated response to the challenges it presents. In this paper, we address this lacuna by providing a systemic conceptualisation and analysis of transnational organised crime at sea. Our goal is to provide a firm basis for future enquiries on the different types of blue crime, to trace their distinct characteristics and identify how they intersect, and to consider what kinds of synergies can be built to respond to them. In so doing, we organise the nascent academic and policy discourse on blue criminology and maritime security to provide a new framework for navigating this complex issue for practitioners and analysts alike.
How, as a sub-set of maritime security, can piracy studies contribute with conceptual insights of relevance to the field of international security governance and international politics more broadly? To answer this question the article examines, with reference to critical intervention studies, how responses to Somali piracy have had constitutive effects, notably ‘back onto’ the intervening actors themselves. More specifically, three themes are examined: regulation (law), structures (institutions) and practices (actors), each of which highlights a distinct sense of contingency, which both characterizes contemporary security governance at sea and makes ‘the maritime’ an interesting domain for the study of constitutive effects related to the making of intervention actors. In light of this, the article argues that studying ‘the maritime’ can offer conceptual insights to the constitutive effects of counter-piracy interventions that may prove relevant to broader debates about governance and security in a changing world order.
In this introduction to a special section of the September 2019 issue of International Affairs, we revisit the main themes and arguments of our article ‘Beyond seablindness: a new agenda for maritime security studies’, published in this journal in November 2017. We reiterate our call for more scholarly attention to be paid to the maritime environment in international relations and security studies. We argue that the contemporary maritime security agenda should be understood as an interlinked set of challenges of growing global, regional and national significance, and comprising issues of national, environmental, economic and human security. We suggest that maritime security is characterized by four main characteristics, including its interconnected nature, its transnationality, its liminality—in the sense of implicating both land and sea—and its national and institutional cross-jurisdictionality. Each of the five articles in the special section explores aspects of the contemporary maritime security agenda, including themes of geopolitics, international law, interconnectivity, maritime security governance and the changing spatial order at sea.
Maritime security capacity-building is a growing field of international activity. It is an area that requires further study, as a field in its own right, but also as an archetype to develop insights for capacity-building and security sector reform in other arenas. This article is one of the first to analyse this field of activity. Our empirical focus is on the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region. Here, international actors have launched multiple capacity-building projects, initially in response to Somali piracy. We document the significance, extent and variety of capacity-building activities in this region and examine the ways in which capacity-building at sea has incorporated innovative characteristics that develop and expand the capacity-building agenda as traditionally understood. Our conclusion highlights the need to pay more attention to the maritime domain in international security and development studies and considers ways in which the maritime capacity-building experience may offer important lessons for other fields of international policy.
This article examines the rise of maritime security in concept and practice. We argue that developments in the maritime arena have flown beneath the radar of much mainstream international relations and security studies scholarship, and that a new agenda for maritime security studies is required. In this article we outline the contours of such an agenda, with the intention of providing orientation and direction for future research. Our discussion is structured into three main sections, each of which outlines a core dimension of the maritime security problem space. We begin with a discussion of the issues and themes that comprise the maritime security agenda, including how it has been theorized in security studies to date. Our argument is that the marine environment needs to be understood as part of an interlinked security complex, which also incorporates strong connections between land and sea. Second, we examine the ways in which maritime security actors have responded to these challenges in practice, focusing on issues of maritime domain awareness, coordination of action, and operations in the field. Third, we turn to the mechanisms through which the new maritime security agenda is being disseminated to local actors through a process of devolved security governance. We focus particularly on efforts to distribute knowledge and skills to local actors through capacity building and security sector reform. In the conclusion, we outline the future challenges for maritime security studies that follow from these observations.
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 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 first be understood in a matrix of its relation to other concepts, such as marine safety, seapower, blue economy and resilience. Second, 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. Third, 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.