Is the recognition of accents and special characters a user-setting / configuration in MySQL?

On my local developement version of a current project I can search for "miro" and it returns a result (correctly) for Joan Miró. On the identical version of the site hosted at the clients ISP the same search returns no results (as I assume it expects the accent).

It's a fairly basic search with a SELECT statement as follows:

SELECT * FROM biografias WHERE tipo = 1
AND nombre LIKE '%$search_words[0]%'
AND nombre LIKE '%$search_words[1]%'
AND nombre LIKE '%$search_words[2]%'"

Note: the search_words were split as the client has names entered in reverse in the Db... (doh!)

Is there anything I can do to get around the accent issue or is this simply the result of the ISP settings?