Control or rescue at sea? Aims and limits of border surveillance technologies in the Mediterranean Sea

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen (2018) Control or rescue at sea? Aims and limits of border surveillance technologies in the Mediterranean Sea, Disasters. DOI: 10.1111/disa.12286.

​The matter of boat migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, seeking to reach Europe, is interchangeably defined as a ‘security issue', requiring stricter border controls, and as a humanitarian issue with corresponding rescue and protection requirements. This paper seeks to understand what role various surveillance technologies, such as radar, satellites, and unmanned aerial vehicles, can play in this respect (legally and technically), in comparison to the role that they are assigned (that is, political expectations). To unravel what surveillance technologies can and cannot do vis‐à‐vis the aims of control and rescue, there is a need to comprehend what information can be collected and what information is needed to fulfil these objectives. The paper contends that there is a mismatch between the information sought to ‘control’ borders, but which cannot be gathered effectively by or processed using surveillance technologies, and the valuable information needed to perform rescue operations, which these surveillance technologies can supply.

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