Unlawful Migration by Sea and the Italy-Libya Cooperation in a Law of the Sea Perspective - Since May 2009, Italian naval units have been carrying out redirection programmes of unlawful migrant vessels on the high seas and in the Libyan territorial waters. These patrols are performed jointly with Libyan authorities and in accordance with the Treaty of Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation concluded between the two countries in August 2008. These programmes shall be subjected to a legal analysis focussing on in ternational obligations, in particular on the programmes’ legal basis and their respect of international standards for rescue operations at sea. The law of the sea provides the fundamental principle of the safety of human life at sea and the duty of States to render assistance. This duty to render assistance is not confined to the actual rescue operation at sea but extends to determining the place of safety where the rescued people can disembark. In light of this analysis and recent international practice, the redirection of intercepted migrants vessels to the Libyan coasts as place of safety may well be criticised.