Realising the Right of Every Child to a Nationality

Room 920, Melbourne Law School

International law protects the right of every child to acquire a nationality.
Yet, childhood statelessness pervades all regions of the world.
At least a third of the 15 million people who face life without a nationality today, are children.
And, every ten minutes, another child is born stateless.

Around the world, civil society, government, academic and UN actors are undertaking efforts to gain traction on childhood statelessness. Awareness campaigns, state pledges, treaty accessions, law reform, litigation, birth registration initiatives, human rights advocacy, research, capacity building – initiatives can be seen in all of these areas, and more, specifically targeting the realisation of every child’s right to a nationality. As this work takes shape, we are gaining an ever-better picture of what underlying problems must be addressed and starting to understand what tools and techniques are effective in tackling these problems. A new body of knowledge is starting to emerge. In this seminar, Dr van Waas will explore the tools offered by international law to support the right of every child to a nationality. On the basis of analysis carried out by the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, she will discuss the unique potential of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to contribute to the fight against childhood statelessness. Drawing on the broader body of research and engagement in which she has been involved with partners around the world, Dr. van Waas will also touch upon the value of other frameworks, such as the Universal Periodic Review and the Sustainable Development Goals, in realising the right of every child to a nationality.

Dr. Laura van Waas is Co-Director of the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion (, as well as Assistant Professor at Tilburg Law School. In more than a decade 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 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.