Negotiating the Principle of Non-Refoulement in the Mediterranean Sea: Missions, Visions and Policies at the Southern Borders of the European Union

Negotiating the Principle of Non-Refoulement in the Mediterranean Sea: Missions, Visions and Policies at the Southern Borders of the European Union

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The situation of refugees in the Mediterranean has become more difficult. During the past few years the border-ocean between Europe and Asia has become an EU-policy crucible. In the midst of the tightening of EU border controls and refugee protection claims, supranational, national and local actors find themselves in a phase of legal insecurity and negotiation. This paper is based on ethnographical research carried out in Libya, Italy and Malta. It sheds light on the different actors' pratices at sea and in the surrounding border region. It also explores how new parameters for refugee protection are emerging in the border regions of the European Union. The Paper argues that the policy practices of the co-operation between Italy and Libya as well as the informal operational methods carried out in the Mediterranean Sea function as a trailblazer of the overall refugee policy of the EU. In the long term, some of these practices will affect and change the legal basis and the formal regulations of the European refugee regime. The principle of non-refoulement could first be undermined and then abolished in this process. Using an approach that combines the empirical study of the border regions with a legal anthropological perspective, my paper analysis the Union's processes of change and decision-making on local, national and supranational levels and their interconnections.show more

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