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Ocean Group Seminar Series 2020

Samhälle & ekonomi

International Law and the Rescue of Refugees at Sea

4 dec 2020
11:00 - 12:00
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Dr. Martin Leopardi (formerly Ratcovich)


International law provides a duty to rescue everyone in distress at sea. Rescue at sea often entails recovering survivors and bringing them on board ships. While their subsequent delivery and disembarkation may not always be controversial, they frequently are if those assisted are refugees and migrants. Until recently, international law was strikingly silent in this regard. However, following recent amendments international maritime rescue law now requires that everyone rescued at sea be delivered to a ‘place of safety’. However, what is meant by ‘place of safety’ is not clearly defined.

In this seminar, Dr. Martin Leopardi (formerly Ratcovich) (LL.M., LL.D.) presents his doctoral thesis – International Law and the Rescue of Refugees at Sea (Stockholm University, 2019) – which examines the meaning of ‘place of safety’ against the background that many of those rescued at sea are refugees and migrants. Using a legal perspective, it asks how the meaning of this concept can be understood in the wider context of international law. In keeping with the general legal framework of the interpretation of treaties, it explains that this concept cannot be understood with reference to the law of the sea exclusively, as it imports norms from other areas of international law. Due to the contribution of these other norms, including some of a primarily humanitarian character, this thesis argues that the meaning of the concept is broader than it first may seem.


Dr. Martin Leopardi

About the speaker:

Dr. Leopardi is a researcher and teacher in international law at the Faculty of Law, Stockholm University. He holds a Doctor of Laws degree (LL.D.) from Stockholm University. Dr. Leopardi has more than ten years’ experience of progressively working in legal affairs, with emphasis on international law and maritime issues, including from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, the Ministry of Defense of Sweden and the Swedish Coast Guard. He regularly teaches at Swedish universities and other public institutions.