Wasted Lives. Borders and the Right to Life of People Crossing Them (2017)

States are obliged to protect the right to life by law. This paper analyses the way in which states do this in the field of aviation law, maritime law, and the law on migrant smuggling. A comparative description of these fields of law shows that states differentiate in protecting the right to life. Regular travelers benefit from extensive positive obligations to safeguard their right to life, whereas the lives of irregularized travelers are protected first and foremost by combating irregularized migration and, if the worst comes to pass, by search and rescue. The right of states to exclude aliens from the their territories leads to exclusion of irregularized travelers from their main positive obligations under the right to life. This situation is analyzed through Zygmunt Bauman’s notion of ‘wasted lives’. The contrast with aviation and maritime law makes clear that this situation is the outcome of human choice, which can be changed.

Wasted Lives. Borders and the Right to Life of People Crossing Them, Nordic Journal of International Law 2017(1), p. 1-29