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ILS/LUF Workshop ‘Search and rescue at sea: The interaction between public and private actors’

On 20 April 2017 Jorrit Rijpma, Eugenio Cusumano, and Melanie Fink organise a Workshop to discuss the legal and policy implications of the surge in privately conducted search and rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean. The Workshop takes place in cooperation between the Law School and the Faculty of Humanities with funding from the Research focus area ‘Interaction between legal systems’, the Leiden University Fund (LUF), and the Europa Institute.

During the Easter weekend, over 8,000 migrants were rescued from unseaworthy boats in the Central Mediterranean. The rescue operations were carried out not only by public actors, such as the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) or the Italian Coast Guard, but also by privately funded Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Since late 2014, NGOs have been increasingly active in migrant rescues in the Mediterranean. In response to the increasing death toll of migrants attempting to reach European territory via the Central Mediterranean, several existing or newly created NGOs purchased vessels to operate in the vicinity of Libyan territorial waters where most fatalities occur.

In the Workshop ‘Search and rescue at sea: The interaction between public and private actors’, taking place in Leiden on 20 April 2017, experts from law enforcement, NGOs, and academia come together to debate the legal and policy implications of these developments. The participants discuss empirical data regarding migration arrivals and migrant deaths, the possibilities and challenges of cooperation between public and private actors in search and rescue operations, the consequences for human rights obligations and responsibilities, and the role of third states in this context. The aim of the Workshop is to bring together academics, national authorities and NGOs to evaluate the current situation identify future challenges for Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean.