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Inclusion Under Threat: Why We Should Pay More Attention to Statelessness

Thursday 8 November 2018
Diplomacy and Global Affairs Research Seminar Series 2018
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague


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About the lecture

For many decades, if it was noticed at all, statelessness was seen as a ‘niche’ issue – a curious anomaly of the nation-state system for lawyers to puzzle over and solve. In the last few years, this picture has changed. The UN described the plight of the estimated 15 million people across the globe who face life without a nationality as one of the world’s most forgotten human rights problems. Academic, civil society and inter-governmental initiatives focusing on statelessness have sprung up, creating a whole new field of study, debate and activism. Global awareness of and interest in the issue is arguably at its highest since the immediate post-WWII period when the plight of those denationalised and displaced in the 1930s and 40s demanded the world’s attention. At the same time – and perhaps in part because of this renewed awareness of the importance of protecting the right to a nationality – new and urgent challenges are emerging at an alarming rate. From the plight of the stateless Rohingya community that has been driven from Myanmar by acts of genocide and crimes against humanity; to the use of deprivation of nationality as an instrument to silence journalists and human rights defenders; to the growing number of countries (Dominican Republic, India, the USA, etc) in which an ever-more restrictive interpretation of who “belongs” is taking its toll on citizenship policy and practice. This lecture will explore how inclusion is coming under threat in our globalized world by discussing the phenomenon of statelessness, looking at examples of how states are using citizenship as a weapon of exclusion and highlighting how the international community is, in response, working to promote the inclusion of the stateless.

About the speaker

Dr Laura van Waas is Co-Director of the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, as well as Assistant Professor at Tilburg Law School. In fifteen years of working on statelessness, Laura has carried out a wide array of research and teaching projects, both within academia and for the UN Refugee Agency. She has also conducted studies for, among others, Plan International, the OHCHR, Open Society Foundations, the Women’s Refugee Commission, the United States Department of State, the European Parliament and the Norwegian Refugee Council. 

About the seminars

The Diplomacy and Global Affairs (DGA) Research Seminar is a series launched by the Research Group on Diplomacy and Global Affairs at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs. The seminars of internationally acknowledged guest researchers and faculty members deal with current research topics in diplomacy, international relations, global affairs, and political economy broadly conceived and target a broad audience through their interdisciplinary focus.


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