Skip to main content
School of Law

'Boat Refugees' and Migrants at Sea: A Comprehensive Approach Integrating Maritime Security with Human Rights

23 June 2014 - 24 June 2014

Time: 9:00am - 6:30pm
Venue: Senate House, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU

Book now

The Refugee Law Initiative, University of London, and the Department of Law at Queen Mary University of London, with the financial support of the University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES) and the Human Rights Consortium (HRC) at the School of Advanced Study presents a conference titled '"Boat Refugees" and migrants at sea: a comprehensive approach - integrating maritime security with human rights'.

This conference aims to comprehensively address the contemporary phenomenon of ‘boat migration’ with a holistic approach. We will consider its multiple facets, combining knowledge from several disciplines and regions of the world, with a view to making a decisive contribution to our understanding of current trends, against the background of the fragmentary responses adopted and innumerable tragedies occurred thus far.

The final goal is to unpack the tension between security concerns and human rights in this context. Therefore, our joint reflections will build on recent developments in law and case law regarding the applicability of human rights at sea and take account of past and present policy experiences to help placing on-going discussions within a comprehensive framework. The objective is to trigger an inter-regional and multidisciplinary dialogue with contributions from Law of the Sea, maritime security, migration and refugee studies, and human rights, to address the position of ‘migrants at sea’ from an integrated perspective, bridging current gaps in knowledge and policy responses, ranging from how to conceptually categorise ‘boat migrants’, to how to respond to differing needs and entitlements and how to reconcile them with State obligations and security constraints.

The conference is projected following a logical flow, which starts with the joint identification of the subject matter, moving on to the analysis of core issue-areas and policy initiatives adopted in the EU and beyond, and closing with the identification of outstanding problems, pointing the way ahead in which research should move to contribute to the development of sustainable policy, mindful of both State interests and the rights of refugees and migrants. Attention will be drawn to the instruments, actors and institutions involved to yield insights on how migration by sea has been and should be governed. To this end, each session will regroup panelists from a variety of backgrounds, who will be asked to deal with a common question.

Draft Programme

Day One

  • 09:00 - Registration
  • 09:15 - Welcome by host institutions
  • 09:30 - Keynote address
  • 10:00 - Panel 1: Who is the ‘boat migrant’? A multi-disciplinary approach
  • 11:45 - Coffee
  • 12:00 - Panel 2: The ‘boat migrant’ and illegality at sea: security and law-enforcement issues
  • 13:45 - Lunch
  • 14:45 - Panel 3: Needs and entitlements of refugees and migrants at sea: Human rights and international protection obligations
  • 16:30 - Coffee
  • 16:45 - Panel 4: Policy responses to ‘boat migration’: A global perspective
  • 18:30 - Drinks reception
  • 20:00 - Speakers’ dinner

Day Two

  • 09:30 - Panel 5: Policy responses to ‘boat migration’: Inter-agency and multi-purpose mechanisms
  • 11:15 - Coffee
  • 11:30 - Panel 6: Identifying gaps and challenges: Indicating the way forward
  • 13:15 - Conclusions, publication plans and farewell by convenors

Conference Dinner

The conference dinner is generously sponsored by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Faculty of Law.



Download directions to the venue: ‘Boat Refugees’ and Migrants at Sea: A Comprehensive Approach Integrating Maritime Security with Human Right [PDF 1,113KB].

Senate Room, School of Advanced Study, University of London, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

How to Book

To register, please visit the University of London eshop. Please note that places are limited so early booking is recommended.


  • Standard Registration - £90.00
  • UACES members - £70.00
  • Students - £60.00


For more information, please contact

Accommodation suggestions

Photography, video and audio recording

Please note that Department of Law events may be photographed or video and audio recorded. These materials will be used for internal and external promotional purposes only by Queen Mary University of London. If you object to appearing in the photographs, please let our photographer know on the day. Alternatively you can email in advance of the event that you are attending.

Back to top