Dr Felicity G. Attard, a member of the Department of International Law was invited to lecture at the Harvard Law School International Law course on ‘The Efficacy of Current International Legal Response Strategies to the Rendering of Assistance in Cases of Irregular Migration at Sea: The Maersk Etienne Test’.
She was introduced by Professor James Kraska, John Harvey Gregory Lecturer on World Organization at Harvard Law School and Chairman of the Stockton Centre for International Law at the US Naval War College. Some 90 students attended and the lecture was accompanied by an active question and answer session.
The lecture focused on an issue of increasing concern for the international community: the legal effects of irregular migration by sea on the duty to render assistance. In this respect, it examined the international legal regime regulating this duty, with a particular focus on the position of the shipmaster of a merchant vessel. It traced how the legal response strategies to the problem have evolved in the light of search and rescue problems, particularly in the Mediterranean. The lecture also identified contemporary challenges which shipmasters and crew continue to face when requested to assist in rescue operations involving migrants and refugees. Finally, it addressed the recent Maersk Etienne case and assessed how this incident has tested the efficacy of current international legal response strategies to the rendering of assistance.
At the end of the lecture, Professor Kraska thanked Dr Attard for her “excellent presentation” and remarked that the huge number of questions reflected the interest her lecture stimulated. He described Dr Attard as a world leading expert in the field. Dr Attard has published extensively on the subject including a monograph and various articles, one of which is on the Harvard course compulsory reading list.