Repoliticization Through Search and Rescue? NGOs and Humanitarian Migration Management in the Central Mediterranean

P. Cuttitta

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This article analyses the search and rescue (SAR) activities carried
out by three NGOs (MOAS, MSF and Sea-Watch) in the Central
Mediterranean, and asks whether and in how far nongovernmental
SAR contributes to the repoliticization of the EU
maritime border. The article first introduces the concept of
depoliticization/repoliticization, as well as that of humanitarianization.
Two sections summarize the development of the SAR
regime and the governmentalization of international waters in
the Strait of Sicily from the Cap Anamur case to 2016, and from
late 2016 to recent days. Against this backdrop, the article
analyses the different political positions taken by MOAS, MSF
and Sea-Watch, their operational activities, as well as their
cooperation and relations with the other actors involved in
SAR. The three NGOs react differently to the contradictions
that are typical of humanitarian non-state action. MOAS keeps
a neutral political profile, whereas MSF and Sea-Watch regard
their SAR activities as part of a political, not only humanitarian
commitment. While the convergence of delocalized state sovereignty
and humanitarian reason leaves hardly any room for
manoeuvre, MSF and Sea-Watch try to question and contrast
governmental policies and practices, as well as to turn international
waters into a political stage from which they can make
their voice heard and on which they can play the watchdog role.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)632-660
Number of pages29
JournalGeopolitics
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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search and rescue
nongovernmental organization
non-governmental organization
migration
management
strait
water
sea

Keywords

  • Search and rescue; Humanitarianism; Depoliticization/Repoliticization; Migration and Border Management; NGOs

Cite this

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title = "Repoliticization Through Search and Rescue? NGOs and Humanitarian Migration Management in the Central Mediterranean",
abstract = "This article analyses the search and rescue (SAR) activities carriedout by three NGOs (MOAS, MSF and Sea-Watch) in the CentralMediterranean, and asks whether and in how far nongovernmentalSAR contributes to the repoliticization of the EUmaritime border. The article first introduces the concept ofdepoliticization/repoliticization, as well as that of humanitarianization.Two sections summarize the development of the SARregime and the governmentalization of international waters inthe Strait of Sicily from the Cap Anamur case to 2016, and fromlate 2016 to recent days. Against this backdrop, the articleanalyses the different political positions taken by MOAS, MSFand Sea-Watch, their operational activities, as well as theircooperation and relations with the other actors involved inSAR. The three NGOs react differently to the contradictionsthat are typical of humanitarian non-state action. MOAS keepsa neutral political profile, whereas MSF and Sea-Watch regardtheir SAR activities as part of a political, not only humanitariancommitment. While the convergence of delocalized state sovereigntyand humanitarian reason leaves hardly any room formanoeuvre, MSF and Sea-Watch try to question and contrastgovernmental policies and practices, as well as to turn internationalwaters into a political stage from which they can maketheir voice heard and on which they can play the watchdog role.",
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Repoliticization Through Search and Rescue? NGOs and Humanitarian Migration Management in the Central Mediterranean. / Cuttitta, P.

In: Geopolitics, Vol. 23, No. 3, 2018, p. 632-660.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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AB - This article analyses the search and rescue (SAR) activities carriedout by three NGOs (MOAS, MSF and Sea-Watch) in the CentralMediterranean, and asks whether and in how far nongovernmentalSAR contributes to the repoliticization of the EUmaritime border. The article first introduces the concept ofdepoliticization/repoliticization, as well as that of humanitarianization.Two sections summarize the development of the SARregime and the governmentalization of international waters inthe Strait of Sicily from the Cap Anamur case to 2016, and fromlate 2016 to recent days. Against this backdrop, the articleanalyses the different political positions taken by MOAS, MSFand Sea-Watch, their operational activities, as well as theircooperation and relations with the other actors involved inSAR. The three NGOs react differently to the contradictionsthat are typical of humanitarian non-state action. MOAS keepsa neutral political profile, whereas MSF and Sea-Watch regardtheir SAR activities as part of a political, not only humanitariancommitment. While the convergence of delocalized state sovereigntyand humanitarian reason leaves hardly any room formanoeuvre, MSF and Sea-Watch try to question and contrastgovernmental policies and practices, as well as to turn internationalwaters into a political stage from which they can maketheir voice heard and on which they can play the watchdog role.

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