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Delegates at the Global Directions Conference on International Maritime Security and Development, 28 January 2013

Global Directions: Report - the Second International Maritime Security and Development Conference

28 January 2013

This was the second Global Directions Conference on International Maritime Security, this time with a specific focus on its interactions with development objectives. Practical realities, as well as political concerns, have led to the current trend of overlapping but rarely integrated development and security responses to maritime insecurity. The resulting policy (and academic) dialogue between those focused on development and those tasked with security has not always been harmonious, and there has been a lack of mutual awareness. There is a clear risk of ineffective or even counter-productive initiatives.

The conference sought to identify the challenges and stimulate new thinking on how best to bridge these gaps in awareness and understanding. We brought together academics from fields including maritime law, international development studies, regional history, economics and sociology with key practitioners from positions in development and the voluntary, private and public sectors, including defence. Presentations were combined with participant inputs and debate.

The three panels examined different aspect of maritime security, starting with the impact of maritime crime on development. The huge negative externalities of such crime affect some of the world’s poorest and most fragile countries disproportionately and pose a real threat to the prospects of their people. It was clear that the negative regional spill-over of maritime crime makes development policies to counteract the causes of maritime insecurity very attractive, but also that it is very complicated to make such policies sustainable and effective. This is because the spaces in which maritime crime thrives are not presently ungoverned, but are controlled by parties who directly benefit from the crime. These informal governance structures have evolved through complex historical processes and are resistant to change. Illicit governance structures can be targeted however, if local political dynamics are taken into account and understood. There is also a need to address wider problems of corruption, as increased maritime regulation through permits and licences can provide opportunities for rent-seeking. Practical cooperative initiatives are evolving rapidly in response, and developed countries can go a long way towards reducing maritime crimes by properly regulating their own citizens and corporations.

We were fortunate to have the head of the UK Department of International Development’s Fragile States and Conflict Group, Claire Moran, give us an insight into how the UK seeks to further development in countries facing major security concerns. The key to conflict prevention is to support the development of legitimate governments with the capability to deliver security, justice and jobs.

The second panel looked at specific case studies from East and West Africa, illustrating the significant costs of maritime insecurity for developing states, local communities and legitimate business interests. A lively discussion ensued in relation to the situation in the Horn of Africa, especially the Somali region. This brought to the fore issues of attribution, the reliability of data and their interpretation in the light of the distinction between correlation and causation. We also gained a fascinating insight into how international maritime legal frameworks are negotiated. The issue of sea-bed mining demonstrates that without an enforceable legal framework, many potentially beneficial economic initiatives never even get started. The initiatives against Illegal Unreported Unlicensed (IUU) fishing highlighted the importance of working with local communities. Coastal states need help to build capacities to guard against wasteful foreign exploitation of their maritime resources. Effective information-sharing is the key to maritime surveillance and security, so that those able to enforce the law have information and proof of where and how violations occurred. It is our hope that community-based efforts of surveillance can connect with emerging international initiatives, such as that based on the UK National Maritime Information Centre (NMIC), to use modern technology and cooperation to better control the oceans and identify vessels engaged in destructive and illegal activities.

The final panel addressed the over-arching question of how maritime security can be understood as a development goal. We saw the shocking environmental damage caused by oil theft and maritime crime in West Africa, and how responsible private actors seek to operate when the state is not present or effective. We also examined how modern technologies can fill the need for better understanding the marine environment through remote sensing and integrating geo-coded data from various sources, including those collected by local communities and NGOs. The economic importance of fragile eco-systems and trade choke points explain the global effects of local problems, which once started quickly escalate and are difficult to combat with conventional military approaches. The last 25 years have seen increasing maritime environmental threats through pollution and the depletion of fisheries, and state capabilities that were once in place have deteriorated. The case studies presented here all pointed to a need for an increase in maritime security capacity using sustainable, locally-led solutions, which can be supported by supplying legitimate local officials with high-tech smart solutions.

The question is how we can encourage co-operation across the development/security divide. Maritime security programmes will be sustainable only if they are tailored to local needs and capabilities, enhance the economic wellbeing of the relevant communities and are not captured by corrupt officials. The international naval cooperation achieved in policing the Gulf of Aden is truly remarkable in bringing together normally distant country navies and coast guards. Also notable is naval engagement with regional states whose fish, trade and tourism are essential for their national prosperity. It is hoped that such cooperation will encourage further positive links and increase mutual understanding. The challenges identified and made more visible by the conference are there to be overcome. It is our hope that the positive synergies evident in their discussion will go some way towards reaching this goal.

Julia Amos and Anja Shortland

Conference Agenda

Opening remarks: Cdre Neil Brown, Director Naval Staff

Session 1: Impact of Maritime Crime on Economic Development

Chair: Dr Julia Amos, Merton College and Oxford Department Of International Development.

  • Maritime Security as a Regional Development Issue: The Cost of Somali Piracy (Anja Shortland)
  • Root Causes of Piracy in West Africa (Stig Jarle Hansen)
  • Combating fisheries crime in developing states (Eve de Coning)
  • The beneficiaries of maritime crime: splitting the proceeds of Somali piracy (Federico Varese)

Maritime Security and Conflict Prevention: Claire Moran, Director, DFID Fragile States and Conflict Group

Session 2: Case Studies and Policy Analysis from East and West Africa

Chair: Cdre Neil Brown, Director, Naval Staff

  • Land-based alternatives to the war on piracy (Currun Singh)
  • Maritime security and sea-bed mining (Douglas Guilfoyle)
  • Building Coastal State Resilience Against IUU Fishing (Mercedes Rosello - Environmental justice foundation)
  • Maritime Surveillance (Cdr Patrick Allen)

Session 3: Maritime Security as a Development Goal

Chair Dr Anja Shortland, Brunel University

  • An oil industry perspective on oil theft and maritime crime in West Africa (Barnaby Briggs – Shell)
  • Maritime economic infrastructures, economy and hydrography (RAdm Nick Lambert)
  • Law enforcement co-operation (Christian Bueger)
  • Maritime Security as a Development Goal (Phillip Heyl – US Africa Command)

Summary: Risks and benefits of merging security and development agendas (Julia Amos)

The conference was held in conjunction with The Guy Hudson Memorial Trust and the Naval Staff Strategy Unit.