The rest disappeared without trace.
Since then, over 16, more deaths have been counted not including the disappeared, who do not figure in the statistics : 3, in , 3, in , 5, in and 3, in As De Genova points out Garelli et al. Since then myriad political statements and an arsenal of measures have been deployed to help "reduce the number of irregular migrants and save lives at sea" as Donald Tusk , the President of the European Council, put it. Everybody has spoken about saving lives, but what has changed in a short space of time is how: rescue missions have given way to fighting the traffickers, and we have moved from the state monopoly on the coordination of maritime rescue to the criminalisation of the NGOs that replaced them.
How has this change come about? What resistance has it faced? What have been its consequences and its main limitations? Fishermen and merchant ship captains were the first people saving lives in the Mediterranean. Italian Coast Guard boats soon came along too. Their objective was security and border control, but they could not escape the obligation to save lives at sea. In , for example, the Italian Coast Guard argued that carrying out returns to Tunisia was impossible due to the obligation, imposed by international maritime law, to assist migrants in difficulty and transport them to Italian coasts.
Although they remained fundamentally border control operations, saving lives also figured among their priorities. Though not yet part of the official discourse, the regulations included it and it was carried out in practice. However, the sinking on October 3rd changed both politics and policies.
From that day on, the need to save lives became a priority. The Italian government responded by setting up Operation Mare Nostrum, which entailed a considerable increase in the means available for patrolling the international waters in the Strait of Sicily. The leap was more quantitative than qualitative. What did change substantially was the public debate, whose focus shifted from fear of irregular immigration to the need to save lives.
In addition, Operation Mare Nostrum gave the Italian authorities a monopoly on rescue on the high seas, coordinating the operations and distributing the arrivals between the different ports. Although it seems paradoxical, this central role for the state allowed and even encouraged the entry of non-state actors.
It was under the Operation Mare Nostrum umbrella that the NGOs returned to the Mediterranean, this time with no fear of being accused of people trafficking. Operation Mare Nostrum lasted little more than a year, from October 18th to December 31st , and rescued over , people. Despite the efforts to Europeanise it at both political and financial level, European Union support was half-hearted. The British government alleged that a Europe-level Operation Mare Nostrum would have a pull effect and would encourage migrants to risk their lives.
Though saving lives remained the main argument, it was now used to justify the opposite policy, that is, the end of the rescue operations and even more control and returns to countries such as Libya and Turkey.
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Knowing that they weren't going to be rescued or that they would be immediately returned, who would dare to risk their lives? The argument was that more control and returns, fewer deaths. The humanitarian and securitisation discourses thus went hand in hand Andersson, The result was Operation Triton, which had far fewer resources, and focussed, fundamentally, on border control. But the second great tragedy on April 18th changed the politics and policies again.
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, gave a full mea culpa. In the parliamentary debate that followed that extraordinary meeting on April 23rd, Juncker recognised that ending Operation Mare Nostrum had been a mistake with a high cost in human lives.
As a result, he announced that he would triple the budget to Operation Mare Nostrum levels. According to him, this was "restoring something that we had lost along the way" and "a return to normality". Not only in terms of budget but also in intent. But the most direct result of that April 18th was the setting up of Operation Sophia, whose main goal was also saving lives.
Made in the image of Operation Atalanta, whose goal was to stop the piracy in the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean, Operation Sophia had the main objective of indentifying, catching and destroying traffickers' boats. In just under two years, a triple turn was therefore enacted. First, protection was no longer guaranteed by rescue and disembarkation on Italian coasts, but by preventing the departure of migrants from North African coasts.
Second, the target was no longer the migrants but the boats that transported them.
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Third, at a discursive level, the guilt was shifted to the traffickers. The argument was that destroying their boats saved the migrants from falling into slavery. The more inhumane and savage the portrayal of the other side — the traffickers — became, the more humane and free of responsibility the European border appeared. This again saved the disjuncture between humanitarianism and the securitisation of the border: controlling the borders and fighting against the traffickers was the best way to save lives.
The same focus was strengthened with the Action Plan against the illegal trafficking of migrants implemented in May The plan justified the fight against the traffickers not only as facilitators of irregular border crossings but as exploiters and abusers of migrants. The words of the text leave no room for doubt: "To maximise their profits, smugglers often squeeze hundreds of migrants onto unseaworthy boats — including small inflatable boats or end-of-life cargo ships — or into trucks.
However, most of the Gulf Co-operation Council states, including the UAE, have decent-sized naval forces and patrol craft. The Gulf States rely heavily on shipping for their economic prosperity, especially to secure the flow of crude oil exports. This reality should be matched with far more robust and sustained naval patrolling by Oman and the UAE, while Western powers that have replenishment capabilities could provide the necessary logistical support. On the north-eastern and eastern side of the high-risk area HRA , India 22 and Pakistan could likely provide more sea and air surveillance resources.
Additional maritime patrol aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles based in Oman, the Seychelles, Kenya, Tanzania, and Madagascar could further enhance current levels of maritime domain awareness. Those states with sufficient warships, such as the US, the UK, China, France, Germany, Japan, and Turkey, could provide additional frigates and destroyers to extend the patrolling footprint deeper into the high-risk area, guided by improved maritime domain awareness and intelligence. Even so, more could be done to harness the surveillance and threat-reporting capability of all the merchant vessels in the high-risk area, which could potentially expand the intelligence-gathering capacity for military forces by an order of magnitude.
In the longer-term, an internationally supported financial programme to boost the naval and coastguard capacity of countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, and the Seychelles would enable these states to provide far better maritime security and counter-piracy operations in their own waters Herbert-Burns, b, pp.
Being the pathway to international trade, the Indian Ocean is strategically and economically more important than ever before Schaffer, , pp.
Workshop on Human Rights and Law of the Sea
In the past, India regarded with suspicion any country or development that challenged its ability to dominate its maritime space. For the past decade, New Delhi has recognised that it cannot dominate on its own, and has come to regard the US presence as neutral or even beneficial to its interests. In internal government deliberations in New Delhi, these factors enhance the strategic importance and bureaucratic clout of the Indian Navy, which has been consistently built up since It has sought other ways to co-ordinate with the other nations concerned: co-operation rather than joint operations.
Anti-piracy ought to be the major arena for international organisations to shape regional policy-making, but it has thus far been a relatively ineffective one as far as India is concerned. Due to its heavy dependence on inbound seaborne trade, India has placed a premium on developing its naval capabilities to safeguard and project its influence across the Indian Ocean.
Given that India sees itself as a major power with strategic interests across the Indian Ocean, and that its requirements for access to natural resources are set to grow, it is likely that New Delhi will aim to significantly expand its influence across the Indian Ocean in the coming years DeSilva-Ranasinghe, , pp. Undoubtedly, maritime strategy is playing an ever-increasing role in Indian strategic thinking see Prakash, a, pp.
As India reaches for great power status, it is turning more and more to the Indian Ocean as a means of expanding its strategic space. Although it currently co-operates with the US, India has long-term aspirations towards attaining naval predominance throughout much of the Indian Ocean Brewster, a, p. Also, the rise of India will play a key role in the gradual co-operative integration of the various countries and peoples of the Indian Ocean basin.
The long-term result will be a more prosperous and globally more influential region Berlin, , p. Much of the emphasis has been in developing relationships with small states at or near the key points of entry into the Western Indian Ocean including Mauritius, the Seychelles, and Oman. Arguably, the extreme asymmetries in size have made the development of such relationships relatively easy: there is no question of competition or rivalry, for example. In some cases, India may not only be a co-operative security provider, but may also effectively act as a security guarantor, as is arguably the case with Mauritius and the Maldives Brewster, a, p.
Countries with enhanced maritime capabilities like India, South Africa, Australia and the US should assist by not only co-operating amongst themselves, but also by taking other littoral states on board as part of multilateral efforts towards the maintenance of maritime order Ghosh, , p. India is by far the dominant littoral naval power in the Indian Ocean. Australia has the next most powerful Navy, but it can only feasibly aspire to be a middle power Gordon, , p. In such company, South Africa is the naval midget amongst maritime giants.
There is much scope for security co-operation, especially in the maritime domain. In future, a challenge for New Delhi is to maintain perceptions of India as a benign and non-hegemonic power in the Indian Ocean region as it moves towards achieving great power status. A strong and influential India means a more multipolar world, and this is consistent with Chinese interests.
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Italy to end sea rescue mission that saved , migrants - Reuters
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Financial Times London , 26 January. Lingle, C. The Rise and Decline of the Asian Century. Hong Kong: Asia Luke, L. United in Disunity? Maitra, R. India Bids to Rule the Waves. Asia Times Hong Kong , 19 October. Margolis, E. He met Dr Jacques Coulardeau in the Paris Sorbonne and since then has been working with him as his assistant. This volume brings together several studies and documents, most of them unpublished before on the general geo-political question of the restructuring of the Indian Ocean as the center of global maritime commerce.
At first we go back to its central position as soon as Homo Sapiens emerges from Africa some , years ago. Then we look at the history of Sri Lanka from the arrival of Homo Sapiens, then Buddhism, then the Chinese and later on the European colonial powers, to the central position it is taking in maritime commerce thanks to Chinese investment and the developing of the port of Hambantota and a few others after the end of the LTTE terrorist period. We then stop on the Buddhist influence in Sri lanka as it appears in the Sigiri Graffiti in, Sigiriya from the 9th to the 12th centuries, plus a selection of these Sigiri Graffiti in an original English translation; And finally we move to the development of Container maritime Commerce in the Indian Ocean at the Global level today And we can then come to the concluding hypothesis that the world is being restructured globally and by reconstructing the dominance of the Indian Ocean the way it was up to the 15th century though in our modern context.
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