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2020 | 159 | 10 | 783-808

Article title

Medzinárodnoprávna úprava záchrany osôb na mori a jej súčasné výzvy:


Title variants

International law on the rescue of persons at sea and its current challenges:

Languages of publication



The rescue of shipwrecked and other persons at sea is since the 19th century considered as one of the main duties in the international law, without any exceptions. It was confirmed also in several treaties: in International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, in United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea etc. During the recent migration wave over the Mediterranean sea in 2014–2016, we witnessed several mostly populist requisitions to question this duty. However, provisions of the law of the sea stipulate a duty to render assistance to all persons in dangerous situation at sea. They do not distinguish between causes of such situations, because from a board of a rescue ship it is not possible to judge the situation and its causes objectively. The values of our civilization hardly allow us to issue a command to stop the rescue of people at sea, if it is obvious that without assistance they will die. This is also applicable in the case of “fake shipwrecking”. However an obligation to rescue even an illegal migrant at sea must not be interpreted as the right to be transported to the European soil or as the right to stay and to live in the EU. On the other hand, critics of “rescuing of migrants” were partially successful due to a social pressure in mass-media, politics and elections. European states started to seek ways how to reduce a tide of migrants and how to stop their stream over Mediterranean sea. An original generous extensive interpretation of their duties from international law was replaced by literal or restrictive ones. It confirms that states do not prefer their humanitarian obligation over their own politic interests. Rescue operations have been reduced only to sea sectors of European states and the EU financed a reconstruction of Libyan coastguard which transfers rescued migrants back to Africa.


  • Právník, redakce, Ústav státu a práva AV ČR, v.v.i., Národní 18, 116 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic


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Publication order reference


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