Universiteit Leiden

nl en


The Sea as Humanitarian Space. NGO Search and Rescue Operations in the Mediterranean

Wednesday 25 January 2017
Wijnhaven - room 348

About the lecture

In 2016, over 4,700 people died while trying to cross the Central Mediterranean. To mitigate the loss of life at sea, nine different NGOs started conducting migrants Search and Rescue (SAR) operations, deploying 11 boats offshore Libya.  Consequently, the Mediterranean has emerged as a new humanitarian space. But how does humanitarian action at sea differs from its counterpart on land? While operating in international water may ostensibly providing humanitarians with the possibility to operate free of political interference, conducting maritime rescuing missions has confronted NGOs with difficult choices, forcing them to compromise with the principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence that underlie humanitarian action.


About the speaker

Eugenio Cusumano is an assistant professor in International Relations and European Union studies at Leiden University. He obtained his PhD in 2012 from the European University Institute and was previously a Fulbright Scholar at the Korbel School of International Studies in Denver and a lecturer at the Baltic Defence College. His research concentrates on the role of non-state actors in military operations and humanitarian crises both on land and at sea, with a focus on the increasing use of Private Military and Security Companies and the involvement of NGOs in Search and Rescue operations in the Mediterranean. His work has been published in leading international relations and security studies journal such as the Journal of Strategic Studies, International Relations, Armed Forces & Society, International Peacekeeping,  and Marine Policy, and frequently cited in international media like The Guardian, the Independent, the Daily Mail, Le Parisien and France24.

Register now.

About the seminars:

Diplomacy and Global Affairs (DGA) Research Seminar Series

Diplomacy and Global Affairs (DGA) Research Seminar Series is a series launched by the Research Group on Diplomacy and Global Affairs at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs. The seminars of internationally acknowledged guest researchers and faculty members deal with current research topics in diplomacy, international relations, global affairs, and political economy broadly conceived and target a broad audience through their interdisciplinary focus.

For more information, please contact:

Prof. dr. M.O. Hosli (coordinator)

Dr. J.J. Kantorowicz

This website uses cookies.  More information.