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Sovereignty at Sea: The law and politics of saving lives in mare liberum

Gammeltoft-Hansen, Thomas LU and Aalberts, Tanja (2014) In Journal of International Relations and Development 17(4). p.439-468
Abstract
This article analyses the interplay between politics and law in the recent attempts to strengthen the humanitarian commitment to saving lives in mare liberum. Despite a long-standing obligation to aid people in distress at sea, this so-called search and rescue regime has been marred by conflicts and political standoffs as states were faced with a growing number of capsising boat migrants potentially claiming international protection once on dry land. Attempts to provide a legal solution to these problems have resulted in a re-spatialisation of the high seas, extending the states’ obligations in the international public domain based on geography rather than traditional functionalist principles that operated in the open seas. However,... (More)
This article analyses the interplay between politics and law in the recent attempts to strengthen the humanitarian commitment to saving lives in mare liberum. Despite a long-standing obligation to aid people in distress at sea, this so-called search and rescue regime has been marred by conflicts and political standoffs as states were faced with a growing number of capsising boat migrants potentially claiming international protection once on dry land. Attempts to provide a legal solution to these problems have resulted in a re-spatialisation of the high seas, extending the states’ obligations in the international public domain based on geography rather than traditional functionalist principles that operated in the open seas. However, inadvertently, this further legalisation has equally enabled states to instrumentalise law to barter off and deconstruct responsibility by reference to traditional norms of sovereignty and maritime law. In other words, states may be able to reclaim sovereign power by becoming increasingly norm-savvy and successfully navigating the legal playing field provided by the very expansion of international law itself. Thus, rather than being simply a space of non-sovereignty per se, mare liberum becomes the venue for a complex game of sovereignty, law and politics. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
keywords
boat migration, governmentality, High seas, international law, politics of law, sovereignty
in
Journal of International Relations and Development
volume
17
issue
4
pages
30 pages
publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
external identifiers
  • scopus:84927164526
ISSN
1581-1980
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
ad68a94c-7d0e-4784-a66a-438782dc86d0
alternative location
http://www.palgrave-journals.com/jird/journal/v17/n4/pdf/jird201412a.pdf
date added to LUP
2016-05-18 16:53:29
date last changed
2017-03-09 10:05:03
@article{ad68a94c-7d0e-4784-a66a-438782dc86d0,
  abstract     = {This article analyses the interplay between politics and law in the recent attempts to strengthen the humanitarian commitment to saving lives in mare liberum. Despite a long-standing obligation to aid people in distress at sea, this so-called search and rescue regime has been marred by conflicts and political standoffs as states were faced with a growing number of capsising boat migrants potentially claiming international protection once on dry land. Attempts to provide a legal solution to these problems have resulted in a re-spatialisation of the high seas, extending the states’ obligations in the international public domain based on geography rather than traditional functionalist principles that operated in the open seas. However, inadvertently, this further legalisation has equally enabled states to instrumentalise law to barter off and deconstruct responsibility by reference to traditional norms of sovereignty and maritime law. In other words, states may be able to reclaim sovereign power by becoming increasingly norm-savvy and successfully navigating the legal playing field provided by the very expansion of international law itself. Thus, rather than being simply a space of non-sovereignty per se, mare liberum becomes the venue for a complex game of sovereignty, law and politics.},
  author       = {Gammeltoft-Hansen, Thomas and Aalberts, Tanja},
  issn         = {1581-1980},
  keyword      = {boat migration,governmentality,High seas,international law,politics of law,sovereignty},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {439--468},
  publisher    = {Palgrave Macmillan},
  series       = {Journal of International Relations and Development},
  title        = {Sovereignty at Sea: The law and politics of saving lives in mare liberum},
  volume       = {17},
  year         = {2014},
}