Felicity G. Attard
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It is my great pleasure to introduce the monograph of Dr. Felicity Attard. She has written an in-depth and compelling study on one of the most complex and topical subjects of contemporary international law and politics. i.e. the examination of the shipmaster’s duty to render assistance at sea. She analyses shipmaster’s duties with special emphasis to the shipmaster’s responsibilities in rescue operations in light of his/her role and in the fulfilment of States’ international obligations in the rendering of assistance.

Dr. Attard’s analysis is deeply entrenched and firmly grounded in general international law (such as State responsibility; due diligence obligations), which gives the book a very long shelf life. She provides a historical overview of the shipmaster’s duty and also the excellent and very detailed analysis of relevant international instruments binding, non-binding and customary international law.

The monograph is very original and innovative as it identifies lacunae in international law, and suggest an innovative interpretation of the shipmaster’s duty to render assistance at sea. Dr. Attard focuses on the shipmaster’s duty in relation to the phenomenon of increased irregular migration by sea. Those duties are not only analysed in light of the relevant law of the sea conventions but as well labour law, human rights law and migration law. The book is also very valuable from the point of view of examining extensively State practice.

The author of this book identifies several still unresolved issues regarding the shipmaster’s obligations in rescue operations. Dr. Attard concludes that ‘due to the nature of rescue operations, particularly those involving irregular migrants, the shipmaster needs to consider regimes beyond those strictly regulating the duty to render assistance and other rules found in UNCLOS and conventions adopted by IMO and ILO’. She relies on human rights obligations of shipmaster and is of view that he/she ‘should act as the guardian of human rights throughout a rescue operation, especially when rescuees are boarded’.

The monograph of Dr. Felicity Attard is a rich study of one of the most important questions of international law in contemporary world. Her study is a very significant contribution to a scholarly debate regarding this issue. However, due to inclusion of extensive State practice and the relevant case law, her study is of great interest for practitioners.

Her book is a great achievement and I recommend it for anyone interested in this subject–matter.

Malgosia Fitzmaurice

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