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Coppens, Jasmine

Jasmine Coppens and Eduard Somers


It is an international legal obligation for States to render assistance to persons in distress at sea. However, a comparable legally binding duty to disembark these rescued persons does not exist in the law of the sea. As a result, these persons—often migrants—can spend weeks on a ship at sea before a State allows them to go ashore. This article analyses the existing legal framework concerning disembarkation and evaluates the recent initiatives taken within the International Maritime Organization. Suggestions for future improvements are made.