Martin Ratcovich


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Works at Department of Law
Telephone 08-674 75 06
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 C
Room C 840
Postal address Juridiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I am a Doctoral (PhD) Candidate in international law at the Faculty of Law, Stockholm University. My research interests include public international law in general and the international law of the sea, international refugee law and international human rights law in particular. I also have an interst in legal theory and especially critical legal theory.

My dissertation project concerns international law and irregular maritime migration (so-called 'boat people', including refugees and migrants). The preliminary title of his dissertation is 'International law and Rescue of Refugees at Sea'. Fields covered include the law of the sea, international refugee law, international human rights law and international maritime law. An overarching aim of the project is to considering how the law of the sea can be interpreted and applied in the wider context of international law. A more specific aim is to examine the meaning of the concept of 'place of safety', as found in international maritime rescue law, taking into account that many of those rescued at sea are refugees and migrants. A central argument is that the concept of 'place of safety' cannot properly be understood with exclusive reference to the international law of the sea, but that other fields of international law including international refugee law and international human rights law need to be taken into account.

I have previosuly worked at the Government Offices of Sweden (Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence) and the Swedish Coast Guard (Legal Section). I have also worked as a law clerk. I have participated in a wide range of international negotiations. I have also served as expert in several governmental inquiries for legislative review and preparation of new legislation, primarily in the maritime field.

I have a law degree (LL.M.) from the Faculty of Law, Lund University. I have also studied international environmental law and maritime law at the Scandinavian Institute of Maritime Law, Faculty of Law, Oslo University, and at the World Maritime University (WMU). In 2008 I served as legal assistant to the Swedish member of the United Nations International Law Commission (ILC), ambassador Marie Jacobsson (LL.D.).

I am a junior fellow of Stockholm Center for International Law and Justice. I am also part of the International Law Association (ILA) Committee on International Law and Sea-Level Rise.


I teach international law at the Faculty of Law, Stockholm University.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2016. Martin Ratcovich. Australian Yearbook of International Law 33, 81-129

    International law requires that everyone rescued at sea shall be disembarked and delivered to a ‘place of safety’. However, neither the treaties that establish this requirement nor any other treaty define what is meant by ‘place of safety’. When refugees and migrants are rescued at sea considerations of international human rights law and international refugee law as well as of international law against transnational organized crime are of principal concern. This article examines the concept of 'place of safety' and argues that it needs to be interpreted in the wider context of international law, so that other relevant and applicable rules of international law are taken into account. The article provides an exploratory discussion of the interpretation of the concept of 'place of safety', seen particularly against the background that many of those rescued at sea are refugees and migrants. The article also comprises discussions of the duty to rescue those in distress at sea, the basic rules on interpretation of treaties and the legal framework for rescue of migrants at sea. The analysis is illustrated by references to Australian legislation, state practice and case law.

  • 2016. Martin Ratcovich.

    Runt en miljon flyktingar och migranter upp­ges förra året ha sökt sig till Europa över Medel­havet. EU försöker allt­jämt hitta håll­bara lösningar på flykting­situationen, men vad gäller egentligen för hanteringen av flyktingar som befinner sig till havs? Vilket regel­verk styr exempel­vis EU-samordnade insatser som Operation Triton och Operation Sophia? I den här analysen redogör Martin Ratcovich för vad folkrätten och EU-rätten har att säga när det gäller flykting­strömmarna över havet. Fokus för analysen är den internationella havs­rättens regler om ingripande mot fartyg och sjö­räddning.

  • 2016. Graham Butler, Martin Ratcovich. Nordic Journal of International Law 85 (3), 229-253

    This article addresses the main legal challenges facing the European Union (EU) Naval Force, EUNAVFOR Med (‘Operation Sophia’), established in 2015, to disrupt human smuggling and trafficking activities in the Mediterranean Sea. It examines a number of legal issues that have given rise to scepticism on the viability of this type of operation, ranging from challenges under European Union law regarding mandate and oversight, to complex questions of compliance with international law. Forcible measures may be at variance with the international law of the sea, binding on the eu and its Member States alike. Even if such strictures can be avoided by a broad United Nations mandate and/or the consent of the neighbouring government(s), international refugee law and international human rights law provide limitations on the measures that Operation Sophia will be tasked with. Different avenues will be explored to ensure the Operation’s compliance with these different legal regimes.

  • 2015. Martin Ratcovich. Tidskrift i Sjöväsendet (5), 455-464
Show all publications by Martin Ratcovich at Stockholm University

Last updated: October 1, 2019

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