Assessing Australia's push back the boats policy under international law

legality and accountability for maritime Interceptions of irregular migrants

Natalie Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Australia's Operation Sovereign Borders has significantly reduced the onshore arrival numbers of vessels carrying irregular migrants. The operational aspects of the Government's push back the boats policy has been shrouded in secrecy and prevented scrutiny, including scrutiny for Australia's compliance with international law. International law is one of the key frameworks for lawful maritime interceptions of irregular migrants. This article questions how the Australian Government may be conforming to international law standards in pushing back the boats under Operation Sovereign Borders. What legal arguments could possibly be raised to defend the policy? And how could the policy be legally challenged? It is shown that the Australian Government's legal bases are weak but potentially able to exploit a lack of short-term accountability in the international legal system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-442
Number of pages30
JournalMelbourne journal of international law
Volume15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014

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