Transnational Organised Crime at Sea: New Evidence for Better Responses

Project Details


The maritime dimension of transnational organised crime continues to be one of the least studied areas of international security studies and criminology. Maritime security has climbed high on the international agendas, as for instance documented by the UK’s first maritime security strategy from 2015, or events such as the annual Our Oceans Conference that has included maritime security in its discussion. Yet, evidence on transnational organised crime at sea that can inform political and security responses on a national, regional or international level remains weak. This concerns in particular how different maritime crimes, such as piracy, illegal fishery, or smuggling relate to and re-inforce each other. Such knowledge is not only vital to protect maritime zones and safeguard maritime borders, but also to ensure the freedom of navigation and safety of shipping. In the global South, it is also a vital element in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through advancing the so-called blue economy.

In order to improve our evidence basis in this field and to develop new guidelines for international responses through law enforcement operations, surveillance, or capacity building, this project is the first to develop a comprehensive evidence base on transnational organised crime at sea and the responses to it with a focus on the Indo-Pacific. The project, firstly, cross-fertilizes in a path-breaking way existing research on maritime crime from different disciplinary backgrounds and data sources to develop an evidence base for analysis and policy making. Secondly, it is the first to compare three sub-regional maritime security governance systems with each other. Through studying maritime security governance in the Western Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific the project offers major new insights into how maritime crimes as paradigmatic transnational security problems lead to new forms of international cooperation. Thirdly, the project will develop essential guidelines and an outline of best and promising practices for how to tackle maritime crime. Drawing on the insights gained from each region, we identify those responses which are particularly promising to be replicated in other regions and describe how to do get these practices in place.

This is the first major research project which not only consolidates existing knowledge on maritime crime, but also develops new insights on how they can be addressed and prevented on a regional and transnational level. The ground-breaking results of the project will open new avenues for research on maritime security and global ocean governance, but also new innovative policy ideas for how to prevent crimes and assist countries in the Global South in doing so.
Effective start/end date1/01/1931/12/21

Structured keywords

  • SPAIS Global Insecurities Centre


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