(Counter-)Piracy Infrastructures in the Gulf of Guinea (COPIGoG)


Start date: 1 April, 2022 End date: 31 March, 2024 Project type: Research collaboration projects in growth and transition countries (Window 2) Project code: 21-M07-KU Countries: Ghana Thematic areas: Conflict, peace and security, Transport and infrastructure, Lead institution: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Partner institutions: Centre for Maritime Law and Security (CEMLAWS), Ghana Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), Denmark Stakeholder Democracy Network, Nigeria Project coordinator: Katja Lindskov Jacobsen Total grant: 4,897,562 DKK

Project summary

Counterpiracy engagements in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) begin from the assumption that counterpiracy leads to a reduction of piracy. Yet despite more than 15 years of continued counterpiracy efforts, the GoG is the world’s number one piracy hotspot with major economic and human repercussions. To advance policy and research on this seeming puzzle, the research project (Counter)piracy Infrastructures in the Gulf of Guinea (COPIGoG) asks: How do counterpiracy responses affect piracy activity in the GoG region? COPIGoG answers this by using the notion of infrastructure as a conceptual framework to holistically map and study the actors and activities of piracy and counterpiracy respectively. This allows an examination of the diverse ways in which the two intersect and how counterpiracy has both intended and unintended effects on piracy. In this way, COPIGoG moves beyond the assumption that counterpiracy straightforwardly leads to less piracy and is the first major research project to include the activities of piracy and counterpiracy in the same analysis. Examining the criminal networks of piracy groups in relation to diverse counterpiracy responses, COPIGoG produces original knowledge about how they change and affect each other. Thus, COPIGoG’s main policy contribution is a deepened understanding of the effects of counterpiracy on piracy and to identify sustainable ways of addressing piracy in the GoG. COPIGoG’s main academic contribution is to advance theorization in maritime security and International Relations by introducing the notion of infrastructure, which is novel in maritime security studies. COPIGoG is a collaborative effort between four team members in Ghana (CEMLAWS) and three in Denmark (UCPH and DIIS). Research is based on qualitative data collection, primarily interviews and participant observation in the GoG. Fieldwork is conducted among key maritime security practitioners and policymakers from the region and international community, stakeholders in the shipping industry and even self-identifying pirates in the GoG.

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