Analysing Maritime Security: Capacity Building in the Western Indian Ocean

This project engages in a systematic investigation of recent maritime security sector reform processes and focuses on the Western Indian Ocean, an area where maritime security challenges are on the rise, the blue economy is vital, but state capacities are weak.
Project status
Closed for applications

Maritime insecurity significantly threatens the sustainable development and human security of coastal countries in the Western Indian Ocean region. Problems such as piracy, the smuggling of people, weapons, narcotics and illicit goods, illegal fishing and other environmental crimes have a significant impact on local economies, their potential for growth and the prospects of realising in particular SDG14. The outbreak and escalation of Somali piracy from 2008 to 2012 has shown that maritime insecurities are interconnected and that the capacity of African states are insufficient to prevent crime at sea and to realise the developmental potential of the maritime economy. Protecting territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zones, preventing maritime crimes, such as piracy and illegal fishing, and ensuring the sustainable exploitation of maritime resources requires significant law enforcement capacities, information sharing tools and working maritime governance structures.

SAFE SEAS is the first project to systematically study Maritime Security Sector Reform (MSSR) processes in a comparative manner. The objective is, firstly, to conduct a pilot study which introduces the problems of MSSR to the broader security governance debate, and, secondly, to use the developed evidence and core insights from the wider SSR debate to provide guidance to policy and planning. Through mapping MSSR processes in Djibouti, Kenya, the Seychelles, Somalia and regionally, and evaluating these in the light of accountability, effectiveness, ownership and transparency, the project will also develop key guidelines and a best practice toolkit for the planning, programming and implementation of maritime security capacity building and maritime security sector reform.

As research carried out within SAFE SEAS has shown so far, in maritime spaces like the Western Indian Ocean, maritime criminality damages prospects for sustainable development of ocean resources, provides a justification for piracy within disadvantaged coastal communities and undermines trust in national institutions and international capacity building efforts. Therefore, it is crucial that both agendas are considered together. This will open the path to new synergies and contribute to safer and more sustainable management of the world’s ocean resources and the promotion of sustainable futures for island and coastal communities.

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On March 21st 2017, Dr Christian Bueger published an article in The Conversation about this research: Somali sea hijack is a warning signal: the pirates are down but not out.

Principal Investigator: Dr Christian Bueger, Cardiff University

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