by Nicola De Felice

The term "naval blockade," as used by Giorgia Meloni, has nothing to do with what is stated in Article 42 of the United Nations Charter, just as it has nothing to do with the Prodi government's clueless and ominous 1997 initiative in front of the Albanian coast. Today, the political term "naval blockade" must translate into a military term such as "naval interdiction," embedded in a more complex approach to counter human trafficking. A comprehensive operation to restore legality and security with the consent of the coastal state transited by illegal migrants (and not refugees as superficially the leftist radical chic mainstream would have us believe).

In addition to the naval interdiction operation in the territorial waters of the state targeted by the illegal transit, training of local law enforcement agencies by our Navy and Customs Guard and, if required, also an increase in coastal management and control capabilities of the targeted nation is also required.

This has already been done in Libya in 2009-10 as a result of the Italian-Libyan treaty called the "friendship pact," where mixed Italian-Libyan patrols in Libyan territorial waters (i.e., within 12 miles) had virtually zeroed out illegal departures from Africa. But there is more: Italy has already been participating since 2008 in an EU naval interdiction operation in Somali territorial waters together with other European fleets in countering the threat of piracy and drug trafficking as part of the EUNAVFOR Somalia mission, the so-called Operation Atalanta.  In the Libyan-Tunisian case, the same paradigm can be envisaged by changing only the type of threat to be countered: namely, human trafficking.

Regarding the Security Decrees re-proposed by Matteo Salvini, they can be considered complementary to the naval interdiction operation since they refer to the defense of Italian territorial waters against internationally illegal acts carried out by ships in "non-inoffensive" transit, such as NGO ships, according to the rights assigned to the coastal state (in this case Italy) by the UN Law of the Sea Convention and the Italian Navigation Code.

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NGO ships, in addition to acting as a "pull factor" to human traffickers, are guilty of failing to comply with Article 13 of the EU Dublin Regulation in that they are legally the flag state's territory where the "first illegal passage" by illegal immigrants takes place and therefore responsible for international protection and the eventual granting of political asylum to those who are entitled to it (Germany for Sea Watch 3 and 4, Sea Eye 4 and others, Norway for Geo Barents and Ocean Viking, Spain for Open Arms, etc.).

Therefore, it is also important here not to try to solve the problem by assigning competencies only to the Interior Minister, but also to the Foreign Minister so as to "nail" the flag states to their responsibilities. I am of the opinion - and I have said this several times already - that it would be better to identify a special commissioner to deal with the phenomenon of illegal migration flows in Italy.

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Senior Fellow of the Centro Studi Machiavelli. Admiral of division (res.), former commander of destroyers and frigates, he has held important diplomatic, financial, technical and strategic assignments for the Defence and Navy Chiefs of Staff, both at home and abroad, at sea and on land, pursuing the application of capabilities aimed at making the Italian defence and security policy effective.