Thursday, June 11, 2015

Call for Papers: Europe’s Shared Burden: Collective Responsibility for Migrants at Sea

The UCD Sutherland School of Law has issued a call for papers for a workshop on "Europe’s Shared Burden: Collective Responsibility for Migrants at Sea," to be held October 9-10, 2015. Here's the call:

Europe’s Shared Burden:

Collective Responsibility for Migrants at Sea An Interdisciplinary Workshop

Friday 9th and Saturday 10th October 2015

Call for Papers

UCD Sutherland School of Law welcomes paper proposals for its eighteenth Irish European Law Forum, addressing the topic of “Europe’s Shared Burden: Collective Responsibility for Migrants at Sea”, to be held on 9th and 10th October 2015 at University College Dublin. The workshop aims to foster a strong interdisciplinary focus in order to better understand and critically engage with the concept of collective responsibility in the context of irregular maritime migration. In this respect, we hope to encourage contributions from law, politics, philosophy, as well as other cognate social and human science disciplines. We are also delighted to have keynote addresses from both Peter Sutherland, UN Special Representative for International Migration and Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, Professor of International Refugee Law, University of Oxford (TBC). Further details, including submission requirements and timeline are included below.

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Claims of moral, legal and political responsibility feature heavily in discourse on the phenomenon of irregular migration by sea (or “boat migration”). This is understandable given the growing humanitarian catastrophe being witnessed in the Mediterranean region at present. In fact, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has predicted that in the Mediterranean the death toll from irregular migration could be as high as 30,000 in 2015 alone. The question of European states’ willingness to share in the burden of saving lives at sea has come into sharp focus in the aftermath of the EU’s decision in 2014 to cancel the Mare Nostrum rescue programme, and instead impose the more tightly circumscribed Triton security operation. With the unprecedented number of deaths at sea in recent months there seems to be growing acknowledgement in principle that responsibility for the fate of migrants is, or should be, shared amongst states and institutions at the European level. However, there has been little systematic study of what this shared or collective responsibility actually entails in terms of specific duties and responsibilities. It is clear that existing policy and legal responses are failing, particularly given the rather fragmented and uncertain legal framework (engaging rules of the international law of the sea, refugee and migration law, EU law and international and European human rights law), not to mention inadequate financing, coordination and political will in policy response. Despite recent momentum leading to increased resources, new operational initiatives and reconsideration of refugee resettlement frameworks, there remains a concern that this has been a rather piecemeal, inadequate and uneven response, particularly geared towards border management and security imperatives, rather than consideration of root causes and humanitarian objectives.

In light of these challenges, we welcome contributions addressing any of the following panel themes:

-          Panel theme 1 (‘understanding the nature of the problem’): considering the scale and nature of the humanitarian challenge, as well as the tension between humanitarian and security concerns.

-          Panel theme 2 (‘what is implied by responsibility in this context’): outlining the nature of the duties and responsibilities entailed by the above challenges from legal, moral-philosophical and political perspectives.

-          Panel theme 3 (‘how responsibility should be shared at the operational level’): specifically focussed on understanding burden sharing in the context of maritime search and rescue.

-          Panel theme 4 (‘how responsibility should be shared at the strategic level’): considering the emerging notion of ‘solidarity’ at the European and international levels, and addressing issues of financing and allocation of resources, policy formation and leadership, as well as resettlement obligations in the European context.

-          Panel theme 5 (‘responsibility and redress for harms’): which aims at considering the nature and adequacy of international and European redress mechanisms in response to potential human rights violations, deaths and injury at sea, including consideration of moral and legal implications of “push back” operations.

Although focussed upon the challenges posed at the European level, the organisers welcome contributions developing comparative perspectives (especially given parallel concerns in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea at present). We also strongly encourage interdisciplinary collaboration where appropriate.

Submission guidelines

Abstracts, not exceeding 300 words, should be sent by Friday 26th June 2015 to Dr Richard Collins (, including your full name, affiliation, and contact details. Please also clearly indicate which panel theme(s) your paper will address.  

Please also note:

  • Selected participants will be asked to provide a draft paper (8,000-10,000 words) in advance of the workshop – further details below.
  • Following the workshop a selection of papers will be considered for publication as part of an edited collection.
  • Accepted participants will be expected to meet their own travel and accommodation costs.  We may be in a position to offer some financial assistance to PhD students and Post-Docs, if unable to draw on institutional funds. Please indicate in your email if you believe you may require financial assistance in this respect.


  • Deadline for submissions is Friday 26 June 2015
  • Successful applicants will be informed by Monday 13 July 2015
  • Draft programme published by Monday 3 August 2015.
  • Submission of draft conference papers by Friday 18 September 2015