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SUMMARY: CNAS National Security Conference

By: Kiara Earle and Trevor Parkes

On Wednesday June 11, employees of various national security focused companies, agencies, and armed forces branches packed in alongside academics, enthusiasts and students for the eighth annual Center for New American Security’s National Security Conference.  The crowd talked excitedly around the coffee and pastry table in anticipation of the day including panels and presentations on topics from U.S. leadership in the world to the future of the defense industry to robotics on the battlefield, all headlined by addresses from Congressman Paul Ryan and National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

What Does the World Expect from U.S. Leadership?

The opening panel featured Dr. Zhu Feng, German Diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger, and General Amos Yadlin (Ret.), with Judy Woodruff as moderator.  The panel inquired about the role of the U.S. in the world, what it should be doing in the years to come, and strategies of implementation for its foreign policy.

Dr. Feng spoke on the positives of United States leadership in the East Asian region, and the threat of a rising China.  Much of the media proclaims China as the greatest modern rival to U.S. primacy, but the U.S. should not be too concerned because China has little soft power, and is “free riding” on U.S. primacy.

Expressing the sentiment that “America is not listening to us, but listening in on us,” Diplomat Ischinger emphasized the necessity to re-establish trust between Europe and the U.S.  As many of the international institutions experience gridlock, the U.S. should lead an initiative to reform these institutions.

General Yadlin commented on U.S. leadership’s hesitance and critiqued its effect on U.S. diplomacy.  According to the General, diplomacy becomes ineffective once military action is taken off the table.  However, military action should not include occupation of a country.  For U.S. diplomacy to be more effective, U.S. leadership needs to gain a clear direction.

Each panelist was very insightful, and their contributions to the panel gave a clear regional perspective of U.S. leadership continuing, at least, for the next few years.

A Strategy for Renewal

Congressman Paul Ryan said the United States must rebuild lost credibility by improving three sources of our strength: our allies, our military, and our economy.  U.S. credibility with our allies has been shaken by President Obama’s announcement that troops will leave Afghanistan in 2016 and recognition of the Palestinian Authority government including Hamas. We should be pressing NATO countries to invest in a coordinated set of capabilities, make a stand in Eastern Europe, and beef up our Pacific fleet with the refueled U.S.S. George Washington. In regards to the military, the Budget Control Act made progress against the deficit but slashed the defense budget, leaving obsolete equipment and a lack of funding to build technology for tomorrow’s threats.

To strengthen our economy, and therefore our military, we must reform entitlements, balance the budget, and pay off the national debt which is “the greatest threat to American leadership.” Congressman Ryan commented on China’s aggression; China “isn’t trying to bend the rules—it’s trying to rewrite them altogether. It’s stealing our intellectual property. It’s attacking our companies. It’s promoting crony capitalism.” The US has to improve ties with China’s neighbors and show China “it doesn’t pay to break the rules.”  In conclusion Congressman Ryan described himself as Jack Kemp once did, a heavily armed dove, and proclaimed “we constantly renew our strength so we don’t have to use it.”[i]

Creative Disruption: Strategy, Technology and the Future Defense Industry

Panelists, former Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III and Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.), with Ben FitzGerald moderating, discussed the future of the defense industry.  The message this panel sent to its audience is that the world is changing, and the defense industry, whether it wants to or not, is changing with it.

Violent extremism and religious warfare increasingly threaten global security as rogue states and terrorist groups are changing warfare itself.  The Department of Defense needs to reform in order to confront these changes.  Admiral Stavridis expressed that some of these changes need to occur by investing more in DoD people.  By investing in language and culture, people within the DoD should be better equipped to approach complex security challenges.

Former Deputy Secretary Lynn shared the same sentiment of reform.  Currently, the U.S. is superior in many fields, such as cyber.  The heavy dependence on cyber technology, however, has created a major vulnerability to critical infrastructure that the U.S. government needs to address.  Evolving strategic challenges threaten U.S. infrastructure, as well as its competitive advantage.

Strategic Risk and Military Power: A Briefing to the Next President

Panelists, General James E. Cartwright (Ret.), CNAS CEO Michele Flournoy, and Roger Zakheim, briefed the 45th president on the strategic risks that will be faced in 2016.  Each panelist presented their reports on how the president should strategically approach new risks and challenges.  The common theme from their reports emphasized ensuring the U.S. would be better equipped with confronting threats posed by non-state actors.  These plans would require not only reform in the DoD’s capabilities and structure, but a more comprehensive economic strategy set by Congress.

Risk and Opportunity in Indo-Pacific Asia

Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns, Dr. David F. Gordon, Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, Vikram J. Singh, and General James D. Thurman (Ret.) gathered together with moderator Dr. Patrick Cronin to discuss the risk and opportunities that exist for the U.S. in Indo-Pacific Asia.  The instability of the DPRK was discussed, along with the economic rise of China in the region.  China, however, was also discussed as an opportune partner for the U.S.  The panel touched on ASEAN, its potential for highly effective regional governance, and the inefficiencies that limit the organization.  Each panelist shone a different light highlighting various relationships that affect the region and U.S. interests.  The panel collectively expressed that the U.S. has an important role within the region, but this role must work to keep the peace without trying to dominate other countries.

Keynote Address by Ambassador Susan Rice

National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed President Obama’s West Point Speech and explained that it was not a matter of if the United States would lead the world, but how it would. The U.S. must continue to take a leading role in mobilizing coalitions to handle the toughest problems in the international community such as bringing economic sanctions down on Russia in response to its annexation of Crimea, updating our defense strategies with South Korea and Japan, funding counter-terrorism efforts worldwide, sending humanitarian aid to Syria, and working on a nuclear agreement with Iran.  In addition, National Security Advisor Rice touched on a wide range of issues from stopping disease outbreaks, reversing climate change, and protecting internet security and openness.

Mobilizing coalitions also allows for expanding shared prosperity through trade partnerships, private investment, and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Finally, coalitions help reinforce universal values that protect human rights, dignity, and health and pressure abusive countries.  National Security Advisor Rice ended by saying “we are stronger still when we mobilize the world on behalf of our common security and common humanity…and that is what’s required to shape a new chapter of American leadership.”[ii]

Visualizing Today’s Veterans Population and Forecasting the Issues of Tomorrow

If the Veterans Administration had seen CNAS Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program Phillip Carter’s visualization of the US Veterans Population it might not be a thorn in the Obama administration’s side today.  Director Carter’s project uses data and calculations to show where the veterans population lives, a population projection, what area gets what funding, and how the projection can change given the chance of future conflict. These visualizations show that some counties receive way less or more funding than needed and can help make predictions on what services will be needed in the future.  Given that the VA is under intense scrutiny, Vietnam veterans are hitting the retirement age, and a decade long war is winding down, this information is going to become invaluable as the country moves forward.

Robotics on the Battlefield: The Coming Swarm

Featuring a display of unmanned aircraft, underwater and surface vehicles, and land robotic units taking part in a military operation the Project Director of CNAS’ 20YY Warfare Initiative Paul Scharre laid out the future of robotics on the battlefield.  If a pilot found himself in a fight for his life a swarm of unmanned aircraft could tip the scales.  If a carrier was targeted by long range missiles unmanned vessels carrying anti-missile rockets could protect the ship.  If a landing force faced opposition unmanned robotic units could take the beach without suffering casualties.  Although these projects are still a few years and millions of dollars from deploying, swarming robotics may be the way to overwhelm future challenges with superior numbers and technology while avoiding human casualties.

Energy, Iran and the Future of Gulf Security

The panel of the Honorable Stephen Hadley, CNAS Director of Energy, Environment and Security Program Elizabeth Rosenberg, and Ambassador Dennis Ross discussed continued American involvement in the Middle East. As long as it produces the best crude oil in the world, terrorist groups threaten peace, and Iran defends its nuclear program, America will have a reason to invest interest.  Oil levels worldwide will fluctuate as the shale boom starts and will be exacerbated if Libya and Iran are able to export on the world market.  As Syria is in civil war and Iraq is primed for sectarian violence ISIS has carved out a state for itself, threatening the region.  Looming large is the fact that a nuclear agreement with Iran may not be reached any time soon.   Stability in the Middle East is not in the immediate future and, although the Obama Administration has heralded a Pivot to Asia, it should be prepared to continue its Middle East focus simultaneously.

[i] For Paul Ryan’s Speech see: http://paulryan.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=384106#.U6DyDPldWSo

[ii] For Susan Rice’s Speech see: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/06/11/remarks-national-security-advisor-susan-e-rice-keynote-address-center-ne

On the Nature of International Law & Interactions with Power

Jason Chuma in his post Law from Power raised certain interesting questions relating to power and the enforcement of international law. Chuma draws a parallel between the domestic/municipal and international systems of law arguing that sanctions are the only way to counter violations. Chuma concludes saying that owing to the lack of such a mechanism in international law it is redundant. His Austinian definition of the law considers international law to be a set of rules backed by the threat of sanctions. As Chuma puts it “Claims without the ability to enforce are rhetoric, nothing more”.

Chuma’s definition of law (an Oxford dictionary version) may appeal to us given the domestic law we interact with in our everyday lives. Indeed it would be hard to conceptualize domestic law as law at all if it did not have a certain ‘coercive’ element to it, but it is here that a problem arises. Chuma’s poor opinion of international law flows from his drawing an analogy between the international and national systems of law. This analogy is incorrect simply because legal authority is vertical in domestic societies and horizontal in the international order. In the domestic/vertical system there exists a clear hierarchy wherein the law is at a superior pedestal and its subjects the citizens are at a lower one. Obedience to the law is demanded and can be ensured by the use of organized violence upon which a state has a monopoly within its territorial boundaries.

Sovereign states who are the primary subjects of international law are co-equal by contrast and subordinate to no one. There is no central authority and no hierarchy in a system whose subjects themselves make the law which is why international law works on the principles of reciprocity and consensus. It is evident then that the operation of the law as most individuals are familiar with within a nation is not how the law will operate in between states internationally. What Jason has done is confuse the question of whether international law is law with the problem of the effectiveness of international law.

The idea that law is necessary for a stable existence free of chaos and anarchy may have been in dispute at the beginning of the 20th century but not today. Two devastating world wars and the recognition that there are problems which can’t be dealt with only nationally (communications, international trade, environment and refugees) have put to rest that dispute. Given increasing global interdependence and rapidly proliferating non state actors the role played by international law in providing stability and predictability becomes all the more vital.

It is true that international law can’t solve every problem. For instance situations where the very survival of a nation is at stake international law may indeed take a backseat. The truth is that violations of the law are just as rare in the international realm as they are in the domestic one. There has always however been little incentive to focus on how international law is largely complied with everyday. This is understandable given how ‘mundane’ matters which form the bulk of the business of international law lack the ‘sexiness’ inherent in issues involving great political questions. Hence issues ‘brought’ to the fore front are the rare breaches such as those involving national security or a nation’s independence. Such matters where rational decision making is often overwhelmed by passions and pride are the instances when international law is apt to be violated. Another factor that contributes to skepticism about international law is scale. In a domestic system the subjects of law number in the millions whereas internationally the number of states does not even exceed the 200. In such a scenario violations of international law are bound to be known immediately while some thousands of deaths occurring in a domestic system fade in a background that is vast enough to absorb such numbers. The violation of laws domestically is not however hailed as a failure of the system despite the fact that the state holds a supposed monopoly on violence. For no matter how good the laws are or how efficient enforcement is some measure of non compliance will always occur. Given how the international legal order does not have a world parliament, a world executive or a monopoly of force but yet it continues to influence state actions speaks volumes about its resilience and real existence.

Notwithstanding the structurally different nature of international law vis a vis domestic law, international law could not have staked a claim to being law if it was not adhered to by states as a matter of obligation. It is because states adhere to international law as a matter of obligation that it is different from international comity or international morality. Whilst the UNSC can theoretically act as a global executive which can sanction nations for violations of international law this rarely happens in practice owing to the need for such decisions to be unanimous. The lack of a unified system of sanctions however simply means that states resort to self help. The high end of the spectrum of actions encompassing self help includes the qualified exercise of armed force in select circumstances. It is the rare occasion though when states have to take that path. In most circumstances the element of reciprocity is a powerful means of ensuring compliance with international law since violations may bring short term gains but only at the cost of long term disadvantages. The failure to ensure diplomatic immunity for example would place the diplomats of the violating country at risk everywhere. Similarly seizing commercial possessions of foreign nationals unlawfully would not only invite similar counteraction but would also damage the prospects of foreign business coming to the nation in the future. States are more or less permanent entities which is why in the long run a nation benefits more from cooperative behaviour rather than confrontational behaviour. Hence the inducement for reasonable behaviour which is facilitated by the existence of a common vocabulary that international law provides.

Jason has focused on the role played by power in letting a nation do as it wishes and (as he says) avoiding the penalties for violation of the law (a contentious assertion as these penalties needn’t be material but can be loss of international standing the physical quantification of which is very tough). The more interesting theme Jason has missed is the role played by power in enabling the formulation of international law to suit the interests of major powers. A juxtaposition of law with power is flawed to the extent that the law is projected as being concerned solely with authority and not power. Law exists where there is an interlocking of authority with power. The idea that international law sustains the international political order is not unique to the early brand of Marxist international law. Marxists conceived international law as being just one of the many devices used by the ruling classes to further their ends. Even outside the Marxists it is widely accepted that law cannot exist in a vacuum. This is the reason why international law cannot simply be divorced from its socio-political origins which always influence it.

For it to be considered that international law just ‘exists’ out ‘there’ waiting to be objectively applied is quite farcical. Viewing international law as strictly rules is not incorrect but what is incorrect is to presume that rules are what international law exclusively and predominantly consists of. International law is not just authoritative decisions (rules) rather it is the whole decision making process by which rules are made. If this were not the case then international law could never adapt to a world with continually changing political conditions. Accepting that international law is not merely applied but rather that the framing of it involves making choices between claims with varying degrees of legal merit opens a Pandora’s Box. This is so since such a visualization of international law creates scope for the argument that international law is made in furtherance of extralegal ends.

For international law to have such a quality may well be perceived as a negative aspect by some. It could be attacked as a feature that allows states to engage in actions as they see fit using international law in an apologist manner that covers up for their deeds. Consider also however the positives. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) with its 5 permanent members is a frozen reflection of the international order as it existed at the conclusion of the Second World War. A failure of international law to reflect today’s changed dynamics is what can lead to rising powers refusing to abide by an order that isn’t flexible enough to accommodate them. When this happens the historical tendency for resolution of such a problem has been war. Contemporarily, China’s rapid rise has raised questions about whether the existing international legal order will prevail in the form it exists. How China chooses to continue to engage or not with the international legal regime may well determine the shape it assumes in the future. But for now the fact that no nation has till date opted to withdraw from the United Nations or substantially reject the principles of public international law is evidence that international law no matter how inefficiently it may be working, is working.

Himanil Raina is a B.A LL.B (Hons.) student at the NALSAR University of Law and a freelance writer on geopolitical and international affairs. He can be contacted at himanilraina@gmail.com.

Troubled Waters? The Use of the Nigerian Navy and Police in Private Maritime Security Roles

Example of a “permit” issued to a PMSC for embarking Nigerian Maritime Police by the Lagos Police Commissioner (Maritime) without authority of the Lagos state Inspector General of the Police. (Source withheld)
Example of a “permit” issued to a PMSC for embarking Nigerian Maritime Police by the Lagos Police Commissioner (Maritime) without authority of the Lagos state Inspector General of the Police. (Source withheld)

On the night of 23 October 2013, a group of embarked Nigerian policemen on board the tanker HISTRIA CORAL opened fire on a small boat that was approaching a tanker close by on Lagos roads, believing the vessel was under attack by robbers. The small boat, it turned out, was a launch filled with Nigerian Navy personnel, who were about to inspect the ROSE MARY. The episode ended with a stand-off between the Nigerian Navy and the policemen, who eventually locked themselves into the HISTRIA CORAL’s citadel for several days before they were arrested along with the agent who brokered their services.

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This vignette is symptomatic for the state of maritime security in Nigerian waters. Fundamentally, the problem is that, while legislation and capability exist, the patchy enforcement of the applicable laws encourages ship operators, agents, mid-ranking military personnel and private security providers to search for “alternatives” which tend to emphasise practicality over legality. In this they are ably assisted by local “facilitators”.

Responsibilities in Nigerian Maritime Security

The division of responsibilities between the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Police (NMP, a branch of the Nigerian Police Force, NPF) is relatively clear: the NMP has jurisdiction “on the Territorial Inland Waters, (measured from the inward limits of the coastal waterways from the fairway buoy), Ports, and Harbours.” It may extend beyond those limits in hot pursuit or when assisting other agencies.

The Nigerian Navy’s responsibility extends beyond that to include the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), within the bounds of the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which Nigeria has ratified in 1986. The Navy can also act inshore and to landward based on inter-agency agreements, such as when being a part of the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta.

However, the lead agency for maritime security, as regards the provisions of the ISPS Code, is actually the Nigerian Maritime Safety Agency (NIMASA). Technically charged with providing port security (in collaboration with Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA) and flag administration, this agency has expanded in recent years to assume a quasi-coast guard role. Some of this is being delivered, controversially, through a private supplier – Global West Vessel Service Ltd, an entity controlled by the former Delta-state militant leader and now billionaire Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo). NIMASA has also proposed a draft bill on piracy and other unlawful acts at sea in 2012, although that still has to be accepted by Nigeria’s legislators.

Outsourcing Maritime security or Public Private Partnerships?

NNS Sword
The privately contracted patrol boat NNS SWORD returning from duty on the Lagos Secure Anchorage Area in in April 2014. (Photo: Dirk Steffen)

NIMASA is not alone though when it comes to contracting private companies in order to render what would appear to be asset protection services, but also for maritime surveillance and law enforcement activities. The Nigerian Navy has a tradition of utilising private suppliers to maintain and manage its vessels such as Intels Logistics, who manage the Bonny River convoy or the likes of Ocean Marine Security (OMS) or Protection Plus, who have been supplying escorts vessel services to the Oil & Gas industry for years. Typically, the procedure involves the private companies supplying vessels to the Navy’s specifications. The vessels receive Nigerian Navy pennant numbers and are manned with Nigerian Navy personnel. This has the benefit of providing an effective asset and management outside the Navy’s largely dysfunctional logistical and administrative infrastructure. At the same time, the Navy gains paid-for operational experience. The operational management, although in the hands of the Navy, also places the onus of maintaining situational awareness and response capability on the private partners. As I have described elsewhere, the Nigerian Navy’s organiation in spite of all efforts continues to fail in its ability to generate and disseminate maritime domain awareness information that would enable it to systematically prevent and respond maritime security incidents.

Arguably, the utilisation of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) is best suited to overcome the Nigerian Navy’s organisational shortcomings in the current situation. Nevertheless, like many such decentralised, commercially-tinged activities involving the Nigerian armed forces it bears the risk for abuse, mismanagement and corruption. Above all, it means that the Nigerian Navy relinquishes control and this was exactly what got the Navy in trouble in late 2012 when a merchant vessel, which had hired a Nigerian Navy team, ended up in Togo with the Nigerian soldiers still on board, resulting in some uncomfortable questions being asked of the Navy. As it turned out the Navy’s Western Naval Command had not endorsed the practice of allowing private companies to hire Nigerian Navy teams. To reinforce the point, future co-operation with private partners was based on a standard Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), in which the Nigerian Navy specified that it would provide personnel only for suitably equipped patrol boats. The creation of the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) outside Lagos in April 2013 in collaboration with OMS was a manifestation of this approach and built on the PPP model that had served the Nigerian Navy well elsewhere.

Use and Abuse of the System

Nigerian Marine Police in Lagos Channel compressed
Nigerian Marine Police checkpoint in Tarkwa Bay next to the Lagos Channel in April 2014. (Photo: Dirk Steffen)

At least 42 security companies registered in Nigeria have signed the MoU with the Navy, although only a fraction have provided the patrol boats as stipulated in the document while the majority of companies thought that they were allowed to use embarked Navy teams. When the Navy pulled the rug from underneath what had apparently become a source of considerable income for local agents, fixers, mid-ranking naval officers and budding Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs), it left the shipping industry with only one recourse: to hire Nigerian Police who conveniently offered themselves for this task, although this too was never officially sanctioned by the Inspector General of the Police (IGP) or formalised through anything resembling a MoU. Instead, local police commissioners issued “permits” to agents, PMSCs and ship operators if they wished to embark NMP, ostensibly on behalf of the IGP.

Again, this practice went on for some time for lack of enforcement until the incident involving the HISTRIA CORAL. Under pressure from the political leadership to clean up their act as well as getting a handle on the illegal bunkering and related piracy situation the Navy reacted. This process of reasserting the Navy’s pre-eminence in maritime security (along with NIMASA) was underlined by the politically-induced re-shuffle of the Nigerian armed forces leadership in February 2014 with a clear presidential mandate to enhance the efficiency of the three services.

On 21 March 2014 the Navy arrested an NMP team aboard the tanker CRETE along with two expat advisors from the security firm Port2Port who had accompanied the ship from Lagos to Warri. Although they were held on the whimsical charge of being engaged in illegal bunkering the incident highlighted the increased awareness of the Navy of the use of rogue NMP teams and the determination to intervene when they had knowledge of the practice. The inability of an embarked NMP team to detect an attack in a timely manner and to prevent casualties on the SP BRUSSELS on 29 April 2014 off the Niger Delta also highlighted the low effectiveness of such “rent-a-cop” teams. However, a large number of shipping agents and PMSCs were now firmly wedded to the concept of using NMP and the chronically underfunded NPF also saw a good opportunity in generating some extra income also for their senior personnel who are held in lower regard (and receive a lower pay) than their Nigerian Navy counterparts.

The Nigerian Navy’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Jibrin, is responsible for the Navy’ enforcement plan against the use of rogue security force teams aboard merchant ships. (Photo: Alexander Drechsel/Adrian Kriesch)
The Nigerian Navy’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Jibrin, is responsible for the Navy’ enforcement plan against the use of rogue security force teams aboard merchant ships. (Photo: Alexander Drechsel/Adrian Kriesch)

In early June the Nigerian Navy’s Western Naval Command (as well as the two sister commands Central and East) decided to enforce the ban on the use of NMP inside Nigerian territorial waters as directed earlier by the Chief of Naval Staff. Confusingly, the general assertion of authority by the Navy which includes the EEZ (which is part of the Navy’s jurisdiction) was interpreted to imply that the Navy would also enforce this ban on NMP outside territorial waters, which would be in contravention to UNCLOS, leading organisations like the IMO and BIMCO to question the legality of that measure. So far, the Navy has limited itself to inspecting vessels in territorial waters. On 13 June 2014 the Nigerian Navy interrogated a tanker on Lagos roads who first admitted to having embarked security personnel and later denied it. A closer investigation on the 14th revealed the presence of NMP personnel on board and one expat adviser from the same PMSC as on the CRETE. The NMP team was detained and replaced with a Nigerian Navy team so as not to leave the vessel vulnerable to attack.

It is not without irony that within days of the arrests on Lagos roads agents and certain PMSCs signalled their clients in the shipping industry that they had obtained permission to use Nigerian Navy teams – allegedly signed off by a senior naval officer. It is quite plausible that this officer is not yet aware of the “reversal” of the Navy’s enforcement plan that has been enacted in his name and will experience the same surprise as the IGP of Lagos state.


The provision of maritime security services in the Gulf of Guinea is handled more closely by the West African states than has been done by those on the east coast. At the same time effective implementation is slow and frustrating for the shipping industry and the international community.

However, sabotaging the process by playing off law enforcement agencies, or their officers, against each other is unlikely to be helpful in a situation where one of the key problems are fragile states and institutions in the first place. While engaging in collusive corruption (i.e. facilitation payments) the shipping industry is technically not in breach of most anti-corruption legislation, however obtaining an unlawful or “improper” performance from a government agency – even through a third party – might well be subject to more recent anti-bribery legislation such as the UK Bribery Act of 2010 which takes the broader OECD approach to corruption. Furthermore such behaviour perpetuates a system whose unpredictability is a major source of complaint when doing business in Nigeria.

The current modus operandi employed in renting Nigerian government security forces “on the sly” often in contravention of existing but unenforced law and condoned by mid-ranking (and some senior) officers may seem like a good idea now, but in this case it betrays ignorance or casual disregard of the power politics in Nigeria. Choosing to bypass or subvert the Nigerian Navy means antagonising a comparatively influential security service (as opposed to the Nigerian Police) in the Nigerian political system, which is something that is likely to create a backlash in the mid-term as the Nigerian Navy’s organisation continues to strengthen and become more robust as it has, if from a very low level, over the past 7 to 8 years.

Dirk Steffen is the Director Maritime Security for Denmark-based Risk Intelligence. He has been covering the Gulf of Guinea as a consultant and analyst since 2004. He recently deployed to the area with the German Navy in the course of OBANGAME EXPRESS 2014.

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Sea Control 41: The View From China

seacontrol2Dean Cheng joins us to discuss China. Like a flourless brownie, this podcast is dense and delicious. We hit China’s goals and perspectives: From the Chinese “status quo”, to the South China Sea, to India, to the use of crises as policy tools. If you want to see behind the headlines, this is your podcast.

DOWNLOAD: Sea Control 41 – The View from China

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