The EU’s proposal to try and deal with the crisis in the Mediterranean by destroying boats used to transport migrants is moving ahead, with foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini making the EU’s case for military action to the UN Security Council today. The proposed military effort will feature in the Commission’s forthcoming ’Agenda on Migration’, to be published on Wednesday (pdf), which will revolve around four themes: “a strong common asylum policy, the fight against trafficking and the prevention of irregular migration, managing external borders, and a new policy on legal migration.”
According to The Guardian:
“Britain is drafting the UN security council resolution that would authorise the mission... It would come under Italian command, have the participation of around 10 EU countries, including Britain, France, Spain, and Italy, and could also drag in Nato although there are no initial plans for alliance involvement.
”...The British draft is believed to call for the ’use of all means to destroy the business model of the traffickers’."
Yesterday Member States’ defence ministers met in the French city of Lorient to discuss “the sharing of intelligence about smugglers to prevent the flow of migrants.” They “agreed on sharing of intelligence about smugglers to prevent the flow of desperate migrants via Libya, but said a UN mandate would be necessary if effective action were to be taken.”
Libya is opposed to the proposed military action. Libya’s ambassador to the UN told the BBC World Service:
"The Libyan government has not been consulted by the European Union. They have left us in the dark about what their intentions are, what kind of military actions they are going to take in our territorial waters, so that is very worrying.
“We want to know... how they can distinguish between the fishers’ boats and the traffickers’ boats.”
The EU’s policing agency, Europol, has already set up a ’Joint Operational Team’ (JOT MARE) (pdf), which is supposed to “tackle the organised criminal groups who are facilitating the journey of migrants by ship across the Mediterranean Sea to the EU.”
Presumably the language of the proposed UN Security Council resolution will be rather more precise than the press reports surrounding it, which have freely conflated the terms ’smuggling’ and ’trafficking’. In international law, there are significant differences between the two acts. Perhaps the key point to note, as put in article published by OpenDemocracy last November, is that:
“Migrants consent to being smuggled and their relationship with the smuggler stops once they have reached their destination. As defined under the law, victims of human trafficking do not always consent to the end result of the transaction, even if at times they do, and even if they do originally agree to a new job, a new location, or to being smuggled. The initial consent becomes legally irrelevant to the crime once the trafficker has used threat, coercion, or fraud to exploit the victim.”