The transformation of maritime search-and-rescue in the Mediterranean


Vives poster

A guest lecture by Professor Luna Vives of the Université de Montréal, co-sponsored with the McGill Refugee Research Group.

Held online:  Zoom Link

Abstract:  Migration across the Mediterranean has led to the scrutiny of search-and-rescue (SAR) logics along the southern European border. In this presentation, I will focus on the Spanish approach to maritime SAR, which has received less attention than other approaches in the region. I use administrative data, budgetary information, and qualitative interviews to discuss the evolution of SASEMAR, the civil and public Spanish SAR agency responsible for addressing emergencies at sea, which has traditionally embraced an expansive interpretation of both humanitarianism and Spain’s legal obligations to protect life at sea. I argue that, in order to seal its border and bring the Spanish SAR system in line with others across the region, the Spanish government has adopted three main strategies: the gradual dismantling of SASEMAR, the externalization of SAR responsibilities to Morocco, and the transfer of SAR decision-making powers to national, supranational, and international agencies with close links to the military. This impacts both the political geography of the Mediterranean and the safety of the people who cross it on their way to Europe.

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