State Responsibility Beyond Borders: What Legal Basis for Italy’s Push-backs to Libya?

Giuffre, Mariagiulia (2012) State Responsibility Beyond Borders: What Legal Basis for Italy’s Push-backs to Libya? International Journal of Refugee Law, 24 (4). pp. 692-734. ISSN 0953-8186 DOI

Item not available from this archive. (Request a copy)


This article takes Italy’s widely-debated 2009 push-backs to Libya campaign as a point of reference to address whether bilateral agreements for technical and police cooperation provide the legal foundation for the forced return of intercepted refugees to countries of embarkation. Through a detailed analysis of both the facts and the texts of the published and unpublished bilateral accords, it concludes that, although push-backs do not have a clear legal basis, the agreements between Italy and Libya constitute a fundamental component of the multifaceted legal and political framework underpinning Italy’s practice of interdiction and return. Moreover, by entrusting a non-EU third country with the authority and legal competence for the maritime operations, bilateral agreements for migration control may distance the responsibility (for international wrongful acts) of the outsourcing state. Migrants and refugees are autonomously intercepted by the third country in international waters, or in its coastal waters, before their arrival at the EU’s gateways. By venturing into the labyrinth of state responsibility in general international law, this article considers Italy’s possible liability for ‘aiding and assisting’ Libya, in a variety of ways, in the unlawful containment of irregular migration by sea and the resulting refoulement of intercepted refugees

Item Type: Article
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Law and Criminology
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2013 08:48

Archive staff only

Item control page Item control page