(of a person) not recognized as a citizen of any country.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that statelessness affects at least 10 million people worldwide. The lives of stateless people can often involve struggles with respect to aspects of everyday life that citizens take for granted, including access to medical care, education, employment or the right to travel. In some cases, stateless persons face protracted periods in detention or more extreme forms of persecution.
There are many causes of statelessness, including some of the same forces that create refugee flows and push people out of their home country. However, many stateless persons have been living for generations in the same country but have never been recognised as citizens. Others were citizens but lost that citizenship due to discriminatory laws or persecution. Sometimes, statelessness is caused simply by poorly drafted nationality laws or as a consequence of state succession.
Historically, the phenomenon of statelessness was overlooked by the international community. However, the identification, recognition and legal protection of stateless persons has undergone a renaissance in the past decade, chiefly led by the work of the UNHCR. The UNHCR’s Global Action Plan to End Statelessness, 2014-2024, recognises the vital role for research in achieving its ambitious goals, given there are significant existing gaps in qualitative and quantitative information on stateless populations, and in analysis and identification of the causes of statelessness.
In light of the significance of the issue of statelessness and the clear gaps in existing research and research initiatives globally, the University of Melbourne Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative was established in 2018.
The Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative (SHRI) aims to:
- create opportunities for University of Melbourne researchers to engage in academic collaboration and multidisciplinary research on statelessness and citizenship;
- build capacity and understanding of statelessness amongst academic and research communities in the region;
- increase the availability of high-quality data, information, research and training on statelessness to fill knowledge gaps and inform public policy;
- build connections and opportunities for collaboration between University of Melbourne researchers and academic actors working in Asia and the Pacific.
The Statelessness Hallmark Initiative is supported by the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness.
Professor Michelle Foster - Initiative Chair
Professor Michelle Foster is the Chair of the Statelessness Research Initiative and the inaugural Director of the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness at Melbourne Law School. Michelle has published widely in the field of international refugee law, including International Refugee Law and Socio-Economic Rights: Refuge from Deprivation (CUP, 2007) and, with James Hathaway, The Law of Refugee Status, Second Edition, (CUP, 2014). Michelle’s most recent publications explore various legal issues concerning the recognition and protection of stateless persons, including a monograph with Professor Helene Lambert, entitled The Protection of Stateless Persons in International Refugee Law (forthcoming OUP, 2018). Michelle teaches Refugee Law and International Refugee Law at Melbourne Law School, and in 2017 taught in the International Summer School in Forced Migration at Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre.
Christoph Sperfeldt - Academic Convenor
Christoph Sperfeldt is a Senior Research Fellow at the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness and the Academic Convenor of the Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative. He came to the issue of statelessness from a bottom-up perspective, examining the development and peace implications resulting from the marginalisation of vulnerable populations. Christoph pursues interdisciplinary research interests in areas of human rights and justice, including statelessness, international and regional human rights protection regimes, and transitional and international criminal justice (with an emphasis on reparations). He has studied these issues particularly in a context of peacebuilding and development cooperation.
Christoph is a PhD candidate in the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) at the Australian National University. He is a Fellow at the Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University, and a University Fellow at Charles Darwin University. Christoph has held visiting positions at the Centre of Excellence for International Courts (iCourts) at the University of Copenhagen, the International Victimology Institute (INTERVICT) at Tilburg University, the Leuven Institute of Criminology (LINC) at KU Leuven, the Minerva Center for Human Rights at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Stanford University. He has published widely in the field of human rights and transitional justice.
Christoph brings to his role at the Centre more than ten years of experience in working on human rights, statelessness and transitional justice, predominantly in Southeast Asia. He was Deputy Director at the Asian International Justice Initiative, a joint program of the East-West Center and the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University, where he supported human rights and rule of law capacity development in Southeast Asia. Prior to this, Christoph was Senior Advisor with the German development agency (GIZ) in Cambodia. In this capacity, he advised the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee and the Victims Support Section at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Christoph has also worked as a consultant on numerous human rights-related projects.
From 2014 to 2017 Erika Feller held the appointment of Vice-Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Melbourne, located in the Melbourne School of Government. She is currently a Professorial Fellow in the School of Government, serving at the same time in various advisory capacities outside the University, including as a member of the Research Advisory Committee of the Humanitarian Advisory Group, a social enterprise working to elevate the profile of humanitarian action in Asia and the Pacific.
Erika’s experience with the statelessness portfolio spans many years at very high levels of seniority. UNHCR is the agency in the UN system with the mandate to protect and assist stateless persons. This is predominantly a protection function. Erika oversaw the protection policy and delivery in UNHCR for over 13 years, first in her capacity as Director of the Division of International Protection and then during her 7 years as UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection. She was regularly involved in activities on behalf of stateless people, ranging from training, capacity building and advocacy through to direct interventions to improve the circumstances of affected individuals and groups.
Professor John Tobin is the Francine McNiff Chair in International Human Rights Law at Melbourne Law School. He is an internationally recognised expert in human rights with special expertise in children’s rights. In 2010, he was awarded the Barbara Falk Award for Teaching Excellence by the University of Melbourne and in 2011 he was awarded a national citation for outstanding contribution to student learning in the area of human rights.
Professor Tobin’s expertise with respect to children’s rights has particular salience for the Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative (SHRI) in light of the fact that UNHCR estimates that there is a stateless child being born at least every 10 minutes, and observes that the effects of being born stateless are profound especially in terms of access to the most basic of human rights such as medical care. Therefore, research and advocacy with regard to the link between children’s rights and statelessness is essential to finding solutions to statelessness.
Over the last decade Professor Susan Kneebone's research, teaching and publications have focused on forced migration, including refugees, statelessness and citizenship, in South East Asia (SEA). In 2006, she was awarded an ARC Linkage Grant: LP0667748; ‘Australia’s Response to Trafficking in Women: Towards a Model for the Regulation of Forced Migration in the Asia-Pacific Region’ (with Julie Debeljak and Bernadette McSherry). A second ARC Linkage Grant followed in 2009: LP0990168; ‘Delivering Effective Protection to Victims and Prevention of Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region’. Additionally, in 2009 she received an ARC Discovery Grant as sole Chief Investigator: DP09844404; ‘Law, Governance and Regulation of Intra-Regional Labour Migration in South East Asia: An Agenda for Protection and Development’.
As a result of research conducted under these projects Susan has extensive experience researching in SEA. The issue of statelessness is a relevant vulnerability factor in human trafficking, especially regarding children of migrant workers and victims of forced marriage (as detailed in two reports arising under LP0990168). The issue of citizenship is important to understanding the rights of migrant workers. Susan’s current ARC Discovery Grant is directly relevant to these issues as it has a focus on the nationality and rights of children of marriage migrants, many of whom are stateless as a result of operation of laws. Through this project, her geographic focus extends to East Asia (Taiwan and South Korea) and her substantive focus statelessness and the rights of children.
This multi-disciplinary group will guide the research program and support the Chair.
Applications for the 2019 Statelessness PhD Scholarship have closed. In the second half of 2019, the Centre will advertise for PhD students to undertake work in 2020.
VISITING FELLOWSHIPS 2019
Following a competitive application process, six researchers will be spending time at the Centre in 2019 as Visiting Fellows. The group comprises both experienced scholars and early career researchers. They come from Canada, Belgium, Myanmar, India, the United States and New Zealand.
Janepicha Cheva-Isarakul, PhD Candidate (anthropology), Victoria University of Wellington
Proposed research: Stateless Shan in Thailand; and collaborator on the Centre’s nomadic peoples & statelessness project
Jocelyn Kane, PhD Candidate (political science), University of Ottawa, Canada; Director, Canadian Centre on Statelessness
Proposed Research: Research on ‘voluntary statelessness’: critical inquiry into people claiming a right to non-nationality.
Julija Sardelic, Marie Curie Postdoc Fellow, Leuven International and European, University of Leuven, Belgium
Proposed Research: Statelessness and citizenship of Roma in Europe
Nyi Nyi Kyaw, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Asian Legal Studies, NUS Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore
Proposed Research: How arbitrary state policies and practices in Myanmar have made citizenship regressively inaccessible for Rohingya.
Ranabir Samaddar, Professor, Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced MigrationStudies; Director, Calcutta Research Group, Kolkata, India
Proposed Research: Extending his previous work on statelessness among Rohingya in South Asia into a comparative study with the citizenship registration process in Assam.
Lindsey Kingston, Associate Professor, Director, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies, Webster University, USA
Proposed Research: Conceptualising “statelessness-as-punishment” (denationalisation).
ABOUT THE VISITING FELLOWSHIP SCHEME AND APPLICATION PROCESS
The Visiting Fellowship Scheme provides an opportunity for University of Melbourne faculties to engage with a range of different statelessness scholars and to expand international research collaborations. Applications are invited from researchers with an interest in statelessness – from PhD students to tenured academics – to visit the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness at Melbourne Law School between February and December 2019. Applications from non-academic visiting professionals will also be considered, if they propose an applied research project of relevance to the work of the Centre.
The Centre offers Visiting Fellowships for up to two months. Visiting scholars are provided with a workspace, computer and library access. They are encouraged to give a short work-in-progress seminar and to participate in the academic life and work of the Centre including events and workshops.
The Centre accommodates both self-funded Visiting Fellows and those seeking a scholarship to cover parts of their expenses. Applications from self-funded Visiting Fellows will also be considered outside the application period, subject to the availability of space. Funding of up to AU$4000 is available for Visiting Fellows towards the costs of travel to, and accommodation in, Melbourne. As such, applicants should consider the cost implications before applying, as there may be additional expenses not covered by the fellowship. Visiting Fellows from outside Australia are responsible for obtaining and funding any necessary visas or insurance. Fellowships are funded jointly by the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness and the Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative.
The Centre acknowledges the diversity of individuals doing research or working on statelessness around the globe. Applications are invited from researchers ranging from PhD students, postdoctoral researchers to tenured academics to visit the Centre. Applications from non-academic visiting professionals will also be considered, if they propose an applied research project of relevance to the work of the centre.
The Visiting Fellowships are to be taken up within the time frame from February to December 2019. Once accepted, Visiting Fellows are encouraged to consider timing their visits to coincide with any major Centre activities.
Applications must include the following in one PDF document:
- Curriculum vitae and list of publications
- Research plan (maximum 1000 words), outlining the research, proposed activities/collaboration during visiting period and contribution to the work of the Centre
- Proposed dates of the visit in 2019
- Indication of whether a Visiting Fellowship grant is sought. For those seeking funding, please provide a brief justification, including any other funding sought or secured to cover expenses (maximum 250 words)
- One letter of reference (for PhD students letter of reference from the PhD supervisor; for non-academic visitors letter of support from employer or other entity the visitor is professionally associated with).
Applications closed on 30 September 2018.
There are a number of ways to connect with the Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative, and we would love to hear from you!
For general enquiries, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Garden of Forking PathsExhibition buxton contemporary;contemporary art;exhibition;
#PerempuanExhibition Asia Institute;Faculty of Arts;fine arts and music;contemporary art;visual art;Indonesia;Victorian College of the Arts;VCA;
Global Legal Skills ConferenceConference legal skills;MLS;Global;conference;
Wednesday 10:15am - 11:15amEnvironmental Impacts of Legacy & Emerging ContaminantsSeminar/Forum IACSP;
Wednesday 12:00pm - 1:00pmCharles Narh - 'Evolution of drug-resistance in the Plasmodium falciparum reservoir of infection in ...Seminar/Forum
Thursday 10:00am - 11:00amLaura Cook - 'Investigating the role of non-coding DNA in convergent craniofacial evolution in the t...Seminar/Forum
Thursday 11:00am - 12:00pmDegree bounded geometric spanning trees with a bottleneck objective functionSeminar/Forum ms-discreteseminar;
Thursday 11:00am - 12:30pmMasters and PhD Recital Series: Week FourPerformance fine arts and music;recital;piano;phd;Melbourne Conservatorium of Music;MCM;
Thursday 12:00pm - 1:00pmMineral-Fluid Interfaces at the Atomic Scale: a Route to Develop New Bio- and Geo-Inspired ChemistrySeminar/Forum
Thursday 12:00pm - 1:00pmExponential Iterative Coupling for Low Dispersity Conjugated PolymersSeminar/Forum OBCS;
Thursday 4:00pm - 5:00pmComputational Materials Modelling and Design for Post-Lithium and Organic Batteries: Practical Desig...Seminar/Forum
Friday 12:00pm - 1:00pmAndrew Lonsdale - 'Computational biology methods for identifying leaderless secretory proteins in Ar...Seminar/Forum
Annual Graduate Film Screenings: Week TwoFilm Screening fine arts and music;Screenings;FTV;short film;film;ACMI;cinema;Victorian College of the Arts;Film and Television;VCA;
Friday 12:00pm - 1:00pmOxidative damage of amino acids and peptides by the air pollutant NO3●Seminar/Forum OBCS;
Friday 12:30pm - 2:00pmEconomics of Privacy RegulationSeminar/Forum CLEN;MLS;
Friday 12:30pm - 1:30pmPhD Completion Seminar by Rasika JayasuriyaSeminar/Forum CELRL;ALC;MLS;
Friday 4:00pm - 5:00pmStrategies for the Detection and Characterisation of Enzymatically Synthesised Lipid Mediators of In...Seminar/Forum IACSP;
Tuesday 12:00pm - 1:30pmSituated, embodied, distributed: Interaction and cognition in the orchestral rehearsalSeminar/Forum
Tuesday 12:30pm - 2:00pmThe Power and Limitations of Health as a Human RightSeminar/Forum HLEN;social equity;health;Ethics;Law;
Tuesday 4:00pm - 5:00pmTopics in Kunbarlang GrammarOther
Monday 9:30am - 12:00pmSummer Intensive: The History of News from Street Ballads to Social MediaTraining/Workshop Intensive;Community Education;guardian;news;Short Course;History;Journalism;
Melbourne Computing Summer CampFuture Student Event schools;STEM;Information Technology;Computing;Engineering;
Thursday 1:00pm - 2:00pmThe Minimum Performance Rule in Contract DamagesSeminar/Forum Obligations Group;Obligations;OG;MLS;
Monday 6:30pm - 8:00pmReducing Energy Consumption through ThermodynamicsSeminar/Forum solar thermal;Thermodynamics;Energy;
Tuesday 5:30pm - 8:00pmReligion and Human Rights in AustraliaFree Public Lecture Gillian Triggs;
Wellness for Law Forum: Making Wellness Core BusinessSeminar/Forum MLS;wellness;Wellbeing;forum;Law;
Second International Workshop on Waves, Storm Surges and Coastal HazardsConference Melbourne School of Engineering;Mechanical Engineering;Infrastructure Engineering;Engineering;
Seed Funding Scheme – Round 1
Applications closed on 31 August 2018
About the Scheme
The Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative invited proposals for interdisciplinary research projects to begin in late 2018. During this first round, applicants could apply for a maximum of $10,000 with the goal of providing start-up funding for developing larger project ideas. Projects must be completed by October 2019.
The objective of the Seed Funding Scheme is to increase cross-disciplinary academic collaboration on statelessness across the University of Melbourne and with external partners. The Scheme serves as an incubator for developing and upscaling small-to-medium sized interdisciplinary research projects that show significant potential for future funding by granting bodies. The Scheme provides support to research teams with the aim of generating new knowledge and insights on topics broadly related to statelessness, citizenship and identity.
Legal identity under rebel governance
UoM: CI Bart Klem (Arts); Marika Sosnowski (Arts).
External: Katharine Fortin (Utrecht University)
This project aims to strengthen understanding of the legal identity of people living within rebel-controlled territory in civil war. It examines how non-state governance providers are documenting the life-cycle events of people who inhabit the areas they control as well as how these rebel-run bureaucratic systems often have overlap with – or are ‘parasitic’ on – the registration systems of the state they contest. Additionally, the registration of civilians’ legal identity can have wide-ranging ramifications: from basic acknowledgement of one’s existence, access to humanitarian relief, risk of extortion and forced recruitment. Through convening a working group of scholars and hosting a workshop, the project hopes to deepen (in terms of the details of how legal identity of citizens is constructed) and broaden (thinking more critically through themes and concepts relevant to international law, statelessness, rebel governance and citizenship in wartime) previous academic and policy efforts in this area.
A Place to Call Home - A project examining the legal needs, complexities and gaps experienced by stateless children of refugee and asylum seeker background in Australia
UoM: CI John Tobin (Law)
External: Katie Robertson (Project Lead, Maurice Blackburn)
Children born on Australian soil are not guaranteed Australian citizenship. Citizenship is foundational to a child’s sense of identity and belonging, providing them with fundamental rights. Importantly, for children of refugees it can also offer security and safety; a place to call home. A significant but unknown number of children have been born in Australia to stateless asylum-seeker parents. Although these children have a right to apply for citizenship under domestic and international law, they face barriers in navigating this complex process. This project will explore the legal needs, complexities and gaps experienced by stateless asylum-seeker children in acquiring Australian citizenship. Active claims for citizenship will be examined to inform a scoping report outlining how the legal needs of these children may be best addressed and providing human insight into the challenges experienced by stateless children and their families. The report will identify areas for further research and cross-sector collaboration.
Building institutional capacity for regional migration governance after the Andaman Sea crisis: Collective problems and competing norms
UoM: CI Adrian Little (Arts); Terry Macdonald (Arts);
External: Centre for Policy Development (CPD); Matthew Gibney (Oxford)
The Asia-Pacific region is now witnessing significant political momentum towards international cooperation in building institutional capacity for the governance of irregular migration, and associated security and humanitarian problems. This is motivated in part by regional political crises surrounding forced migration of Rohingya people from Myanmar – in particular the 2015 Andaman Sea crisis, and the ongoing humanitarian crisis for stateless populations in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Regional governments have called for expanded ‘coordination’ and ‘capacity-building’ to support effective governance responses to these shared problems. But institutionalizing such governance capacity requires more than recognition of a collective regional problem; it further requires agreement on authoritative institutional norms – for structuring authority relationships, decision-making processes, resource allocations, and policy priorities, within a regional migration governance regime. And at present, it remains politically controversial which are the authoritative norms in this governance space: human rights, humanitarianism, rule of law, sovereign territorial rights, and more specific international treaty norms, compete for political recognition as organizing principles for regional migration governance institutions. This project aims to develop an analytical framework for mapping and critically assessing these controversies, in collaboration with policy analysts at the Centre for Policy Development. In doing so it will consider: what competing institutional norms do regional governments and stakeholders invoke as appropriate organizing principles for migration governance institutions? And on what principled basis could these normative disputes be resolved, to facilitate the development of stronger regional migration governance capacity?
Voices of Statelessness: Laying the foundations and principles for a digital archive of testimonies about statelessness in Australia
UoM: CI Timnah Baker (Law)
External: Michael Green & Andre Dao (Behind the Wire)
The Voices of Statelessness project is the first phase in a multi-platform digital archive of statelessness in Australia, for stateless people to represent their own stories and carve out a space for a community interface with statelessness. This project will establish the principles and methodology for building a digital archive of testimonies from stateless people. It represents a reconceptualisation of traditional archiving, drawing on principles from participatory archives and engaging with contemporary discourses from the digital humanities. Behind the Wire will create a mini-archive of four oral histories, to be published on the Behind the Wire website. The process of creating these oral testimonies of statelessness will be evaluated alongside contemporary academic and practitioner practices working in the realms of statelessness, storytelling and archives. This first phase will enable vital practical and ethical questions to be addressed and ensure that the proposed Voices of Statelessness Archive meets ‘best practice’ standards and the diverse needs of researchers and communities alongside researchers.
UoM: CI Danny Butt (Fine Arts); Ruth DeSouza (Fine Arts)
External: Tania Canas (RISE Refugees); Genevieve Grieves (Museums Victoria)
How is the condition of statelessness experienced and performed in everyday life? How do the ways stateless peoples collectively perform connect to or depart from normative aspirations to public participation in a settler-colonial democratic nation such as Australia? Are there opportunities for exploring how the conditions of statelessness experienced by Indigenous Australians and refugee and asylum-seeker communities can be comparatively articulated for the benefit of these communities? Using practice-led research methods informed by performance techniques, this pilot project stages a unique encounter between practicing artists who identify as having an asylum seeker, refugee and/or First Nation background, toward innovative interventions into culturally responsive methods in artistic research.
Children of ‘Cross Border Marriages’ and Nationality in Can Tho, Mekong Delta, Vietnam: Degrees of Statelessness
UoM: CI Lan Anh Hoang (Arts); Susan Kneebone (Law); Brandais York (Law); Sayomi Ariyawansa (Law)
External: Ho Chi Minh Law University, Vietnam
This project investigates the status, rights and identity of bi-racial children of returned marriage migrants in the in the Can Tho region, Mekong Delta, Vietnam to formulate coherent legislative and policy responses to problems caused by gaps in law and policy. The consequences of ‘cross border marriages’ on the bi-racial children of such marriages is under-researched. Our preliminary research indicates that the status of such children ranges from dual nationality to lack of effective nationality and statelessness. In Vietnam there is no coherent legislative or policy responses to the issue; implementation is often dependent on inconsistent application of local discretion which often results in parties taking the law into their own hands through fraudulent acts.
We will consolidate previous data collected with views from a wide range of stakeholders (government, international organisations and local academics), in a report to be presented to a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in mid-2019.
The Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative Seed Funding Scheme is run annually. We expect Round 2 to open mid- 2019. For queries about the scheme, please contact email@example.com.