Can the Drownings in the Mediterranean be Stopped?

Italy / Italian rescue workers on the island of Lampedusa carry a child off a coastguard vessel. The infant was among people rescued from a sinking dinghy. Some needed medical treatment for bad burns suffered before boarding a boat in Libya. / UNHCR / Francesco Malavolta / 17 April 2015
Italy / Italian rescue workers on the island of Lampedusa carry a child off a coastguard vessel. The infant was among people rescued from a sinking dinghy. Some needed medical treatment for bad burns suffered before boarding a boat in Libya. / UNHCR / Francesco Malavolta / 17 April 2015

More than 1,700 migrants have died in the Mediterranean so far in 2015, according to the International Organisation for Migration. That is 30 times higher than for the same period in 2014.

On Monday, four leading figures in the field of human rights and international law came together in Lund, Sweden for a panel debate on how to stop the drownings in the Mediterranean.

Morten Kjaerum, director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, and one of the panelists, says human rights and humanitarian law is all about protecting the life and integrity of the individual.

“What is happening at the outer borders of the EU these days is testing the humanitarian spirit of Europe,” he says. “Do we protect our outer borders or the life of the individual who tries to reach our shores? The answer to that question has an impact on our core values.”

Gregor Noll, Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law at Lund University, will also sit on the panel. “We’ve come to a point where it’s clearly untenable to have a region that drowns people by numbers in the Mediterranean and to continue to do business as usual at the European Council,” says Professor Gregor Noll. “It’s not the Mediterranean that drowns these people. It’s a man-made system of rules and practices that inhibits these people from entering the European Union.”

The panel debate, “Boat Refugees in the Mediterranean: Can the Drownings be Stopped?” will be held on 4 May at 17:15 in the Pufendorf Auditorium Tryckeriet in Lund.
Kjaerum and Noll will be joined by Eleni Karageorgiou, Doctoral candidate at the Faculty of Law at Lund University, and Martin Ratcovich, Doctoral candidate at the Faculty of Law at Stockholm University.

The debate is hosted by the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, together with the Faculty of Law at Lund University, Jus Humanis, and the Lund-Uppsala Migration Law Research Network.

“We’ve come to a point where it’s clearly untenable to have a region that drowns people by numbers in the Mediterranean and to continue to do business as usual at the European Council,” says Professor Gregor Noll. “It’s not the Mediterranean that drowns these people. It’s a man-made system of rules and practices that inhibits these people from entering the European Union.”

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