Upcoming Events

Past Events


  • 25 May 2021: Launch - Oxford Handbook on International Refugee Law

    Hosted by the Refugee Studies Centre (University of Oxford); Centre for Fundamental Rights (Hertie School, Berlin); Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness (University of Melbourne), and the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law (UNSW Sydney).

    The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law is a groundbreaking book which critiques the status quo in international refugee law and sets the agenda for future research.

    Professor Hilary Charlesworth launched the book and engaged in a lively discussion with the three editors, Professors Cathryn Costello, Michelle Foster and Jane McAdam. The event was chaired by refugee advocate and lawyer Nyadol Nyuon.

  • 15 April 2021: Statelessness in Southeast Asia and the role of the AICHR in the promotion and protection of human rights

    Eric Paulsen

    Statelessness in Southeast Asia and the role of the AICHR in the promotion and protection of human rights.

    This seminar provided an overview of statelessness in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on Malaysia. As statelessness is often complex, protracted, and sensitive to ASEAN Member States, what possible role can the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), established since 2009, play in the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular, the right to a nationality in accordance with Article 18 of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.

    Eric Paulsen is the Representative of Malaysia to the AICHR (2019-2021). He co-founded Lawyers for Liberty in 2011, a human rights organisation in Malaysia and was its Adviser until becoming the Executive Director from 2014 to 2018.

  • 25 March 2021: Launch Event: A Place to Call Home

    The Refugee Advice & Casework Service (RACS) and Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness have partnered to conduct groundbreaking research into the legal needs, barriers and gaps experienced by stateless refugee children and their families in accessing and acquiring Australian citizenship.

    The ‘A Place to Call Home’ Report will be officially launched at this online event.

    In response to the legal need identified in this Report, this event will also see Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness, in partnership with the RACS launch both:

    • The Stateless Children Legal Clinic (SCLC) - the first stateless legal clinic of its kind in Australia, the third of its kind globally and a joint initiative with the Melbourne Law School (MLS) Clinics at the University of Melbourne.
    • The Stateless Children Legal Australia Network (SCLAN) - a newly established, independent, not-for-profit network aimed at developing knowledge and increasing pathways to legal assistance for stateless children entitled to Australian citizenship.

    Further information and recording of the event.

  • 18 March, 2021: Narratives of Displacement

    Durkhanai Ayubi

    Narratives of Displacement

    The Narratives of Displacement (NoD) project was born from an understanding of the little acknowledged, but increasingly intertwined and numerous, typologies driving displacement in our world today – from climate to conflict, to politics and economic drivers – impacting a growing segment of the global population in complex ways. And while the realities of being a displaced person today are shifting, the dominant narratives around displacement remain trapped in a narrow image of a refugee as a foreign other, flooding Euro-American borders and bringing chaos and unwelcome cultural clashes in their wake.

    In this presentation Durkhanai Ayubi, one of the founders of NoD, discussed how the project seeks to decode the narrative norms that have brought us to this limited and problematic understanding, and what narratives can be used to deepen and diversify our understanding of the realities of displacement today.

    Durkhanai Ayubi is an Afghan born migrant to Australia. She is a restaurateur, author of Parwana: Recipes and Stories from an Afghan Kitchen (2020), an Atlantic Fellow of the Atlantic Institute based in Oxford, and a freelance writer for various publications nationally and globally.


  • 16 October 2020: Understanding Immigrants’ Diverse Employment Trajectories: The Role of Immigration Policy and Gender

    Dr Rennie Lee

    Understanding Immigrants’ Diverse Employment Trajectories: The Role of Immigration Policy and Gender

    How does immigration policy shape immigrants’ employment trajectories? How does this differ for immigrant men and women? Focusing on empirical results from the United States and Australia, Dr Rennie Lee will show the enduring effects of immigration policy, specifically visa categories, on immigrants’ labor market participation and employment behavior and how these effects differ for immigrant men and women. Her findings have important implications for immigration policymaking and shows that selecting immigrants on their skill may not produce the same employment outcomes for men and women.

    Rennie Lee is an Assistant Professor in Global and Sociocultural Studies at Florida International University. Her research has focused on the integration of immigrants and their children in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Previously, she was a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Melbourne and a postdoctoral fellow at UC Irvine's Center for Research on International Migration.

  • Accountability for the Rohingya: The relevance and implications of international law

    Presented by Priya Pillai, international lawyer and the head of the Asia Justice Coalition secretariat, a network of organizations focused on justice and accountability in Asia.

    In the guise of “Clearance operations” in Rakhine state, the Myanmar military has committed mass atrocities against the Rohingya – resulting in an exodus of close to a million Rohingya from Myanmar into Bangladesh in 2017.

    There have been concerted efforts towards justice and accountability for these international crimes, with significant developments in the past two years. These include the establishment of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) in 2018, an application by The Gambia to the International Court of Justice resulting in a positive provisional measures order in January 2020, and proceedings at the International Criminal Court making progress, with the authorization of the investigation in November 2019. In addition, there are also universal jurisdiction proceedings underway in Argentina.

    It is timely to reflect upon these legal developments and the implications for the situation of the Rohingya, as well as international law more broadly.

  • The impact of COVID-19 on stateless persons and refugees in Australia

    The impact of COVID-19 on stateless persons and refugees in Australia

    A panel discussion on the effects COVID-19 has on stateless persons, refugees and asylum seekers who seek protection in Australia.

    More than a million people including asylum seekers, stateless persons and refugees have been left out by the Australian Government’s raft of bold economic measures to support the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tens of thousands of people on temporary visas face barriers to seeking critical support.

    Medical experts and human rights organisations have warned of the potential for the virus to rapidly spread through Australia’s detention centres, posing a threat to those detained, the staff and ultimately the broader Australian community.

    In this seminar, a panel of experts will discuss the impact of COVID-19 and associated measures on stateless persons, refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia. Audience members will be invited to ask questions as part of an interactive and informative discussion on this critical issue affecting many in our community.


    Katie Robertson, Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness (Chair)
    Jeanine Hourani, Director, Road to Refuge
    Sarah Dale, Principal Lawyer and Centre Director,Refugee Advice Caseworker Service (RACS)
    David Burke, Legal Director Human Rights Law Centre's Asylum Seeker and Refugee Rights team
    Sahar Okhovat, Senior Policy Officer, Refugee Council of Australia

    A recording of this event is available here.

  • 26 June 2020 - Field Notes from the Rohingya Emergency
    Bina D'Costa

    Prof Bina D'Costa

    Field Notes from the Rohingya Emergency Response

    Since the beginning of the so-called ‘clearance operations’ conducted by the Myanmar security force in August 2017 in the northern Rakhine region, 741,792 refugees from Burma/Myanmar have arrived in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. While a multifaceted and collaborative response from the United Nations and other humanitarian actors helped to stabilise the dire situation, it is clear that the scale of needs exceeds both Bangladesh’s and the international community’s current capacity to deliver support to the Rohingya community. This talk draws on field research undertaken in Cox’s Bazar at the height of the UN emergency response in 2017-2018 and again in late 2019. It provides an analysis of the UN humanitarian response and takes a deep dive into three key child protection concerns: trafficking and smuggling, child labour, and child/early marriage. It argues that decades of structural xenophobic discrimination against the Rohingya have not only resulted in violence and protracted displacement but also created serious inter-generational harm. The UN system urgently needs innovative child protection measures that simultaneously adopt rights-based, anti-prejudice initiatives and develop strategic south-south cooperation on both a community and structural level.

    Bina D'Costa is a Professor at the Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia-Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University. At the height of Europe’s refugee emergency, she moved to the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti to build its Migration and Displacement program (2016-2018). Bina's current research focuses on children's protection in global humanitarian emergencies through human rights framing in trafficking/smuggling, child/early marriage, child labor and gender justice issues. This project also draws on SDG indicators for data and evidence.

  • 12 March 2020: 'Nothing about us without us': the rise of refugee self-representation in global dialogue on forced displacement

    Co-presented by Arash Bordbar (Chair, UNHCR Global Youth Advisory Council) and Dr Louise Olliff (University of Melbourne).

    In recent years, there has been a noticeable change in the composition and visibility of actors engaging in global dialogue on refugees. While decisions made in Geneva and New York are still dominated by states, intergovernmental institutions and larger NGOs, refugee-led networks have made an entrance in a big way. In 2017, the UN Refugee Agency established a Global Youth Advisory Council made up of refugee young people from around the world. In 2018 the first Global Summit of Refugees was held, and in 2019 the Global Refugee-led Network was formally established, strategically perceiving the negotiations for a Global Compact on Refugees as an opportunity to claim a seat at the table in future dialogue. This seminar will track the rise of refugee-led advocacy networks and the challenges and potential posed by refugees demanding that there be ‘nothing about us without us’.

    Arash Bordbar is a strong advocate for refugees being given space to contribute to more effective solutions to forced displacement and changing the narrative about meaningful participation of affected populations in policies that impact their lives. Among other things, Arash is the current and founding co-Chair of the UN Refugee Agency’s Global Youth Advisory Council, is current Chair of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN), and was a participant in the first Global Summit of Refugees in 2018. Arash works for Community Migrant Resource Centre in Sydney as a Youth Transition Support Worker.

    Dr Louise Olliff works as a senior advisor for the Refugee Council of Australia, where she has been employed in policy, research and advocacy roles since 2009. Her current role focusses on RCOA’s international and community engagement work. Louise completed a PhD in Anthropology and Development Studies at the University of Melbourne in 2018, where her research explored the ways in which refugee diaspora communities in Australia are involved in helping people living in refugee situations in different parts of the world.

  • 13 February 2020: Deciding who is a "foreigner:" the situation in the Indian state of Assam from a legal perspective

    Talha Abdul Rahman

    Deciding Who is a “Foreigner”: The Situation in the Indian State of Assam from a Legal Perspective

    The State of Assam in the Union of India has a peculiar history of the movement of people from across India’s international borders into Assam. This has become a point that has been abused by those in power to utilise local sentiments regarding the dilution of “Assamese culture” by “outsiders”.

    This seminar discusses briefly the timelines leading up to the amendment of India’s Citizenship Act which carved out a special provision for Assam and ultimately led to the Supreme Court judgement directing the preparation of a National Register of Citizen (NRC). While examining the Supreme Court judgement, the seminar then discusses the ad-hocism in rule-making regarding the inclusion into and exclusion from the register. It will highlight examples of the nightmare that befell fellow countrymen from Assam as a result of the NRC. When the Supreme Court ordered the preparation of the NRC in Assam, it also directed the creation of Foreigner’s Tribunals in Assam and left this task to the High Court of Assam. The seminar talk critically assesses these Foreigner’s Tribunals to show how a “wartime/colonial” legislation intended to remove foreigners from (British) India summarily is now being used, and how its working leaves much to be desired when it comes to compliance with the essential principles of the rule of law.
    It concludes by arguing that the Government’s sovereign power to count its “citizen” must only be exercised after judicial paraphernalia to remedy executive excesses is in place.

    Mr Talha Abdul Rahman obtained his law degree from NALSAR University of Law in 2008 with several gold medals and then pursued a Bachelor of Civil Law from Oxford University as Shell Chevening Scholar in 20082009. He has been practising in India since 2009 and has been an Advocate on Record before the Supreme Court of India since 2017. He has assisted Justice JS Verma Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law (2013), set up in the wake of the gruesome rape in Delhi. He has worked on various public interest matters, including the communal riots of 2012 in Faizabad, Muzaffarnagar Communal riots, right to privacy cases, matters concerning the reform of the criminal justice system, and appointment of an ombudsman. He advised NGOs in their engagement with the legal system. He is presently involved in litigation concerning the prescription of procedure for Foreigners Tribunal in India and those challenging the amendments to the Citizenship Law.


  • 5 December 2019: Uncertain Futures: EU Citizenship in the Shadow of Brexit
    Ruvi Ziegler

    Dr Ruvi Ziegler

    Uncertain Futures: EU Citizenship in the Shadow of Brexit

    If the UK leaves the European Union, over 60 million British citizens, including over 1.2 million living in the EU-27, face being stripped of their EU citizenship rights, and 3.8 million EU-27 citizens resident in Britain face an uncertain future in the UK in terms of the continued exercise of their EU citizenship rights. Which remedies are suitable for their predicament? and what do they tell us about the nature, pedigree, and future of (supra-national) citizenship?.

    Dr. Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler is Associate Professor in International Refugee Law at the University of Reading, School of Law, where he is the Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes. Ruvi is an Associate Academic Fellow of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple; Research Associate of the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford; Co-convenor of the Migration and Asylum Section of the Society of Legal Scholars; Senior Research Associate of the Refugee Law Initiative (Institute for Advance Legal Study, University of London) and Editor-in-Chief of its Working Paper Series. Ruvi's public engagements include serving as Chair of the Board of Trustees of New Europeans Association UK; Chair of the Oxford European Association; A Britain in Europe academic expert; and an advisory council member of Rene Cassin. Previously, Ruvi was a visiting researcher at Harvard Law School’s Immigration and Refugee Clinic and with the Human Rights Program; and a Tutor in Public International Law at Oxford. Ruvi's recently published book is Voting Rights of Refugees (Cambridge University Press, 2017). Ruvi's areas of research interest include International Refugee Law, Electoral Rights and citizenship, Comparative Constitutional Law, and International Humanitarian Law. Ruvi holds DPhil, MPhil, and BCL degrees from the University of Oxford. For more information and a list of publications:

  • 17 October 2019: The Global Compacts: A Missed Opportunity or a Promising Tool?
    Carolina Gottardo

    Carolina Gottardo  

    The Global Compacts: A Missed Opportunity or a Promising Tool?

    The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and the Global Compact on Refugees(GCR) were broadly adopted in December 2018. The adoption of the global Compacts has been one of the main developments on international migration governance for decades. This talk will explore the process for adoption of the Compacts focusing particularly on the GCM and also looking at its content. It will explore whether the Compacts could be used as a tool or whether their adoption has been a missed opportunity. The talk will also focus on the global architecture for implementation of the global Compacts and how new mechanisms and processes are developing.

    Carolina Gottardo is a lawyer and economist who has worked on human rights issues for more than 20 years in different countries and contexts. Carolina's areas of specialization are gender, asylum and migration. She is the Director of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), Australia. Previously she was the director of a women's rights organisation working with refugee and migrant women in the UK for 6 years. Carolina has been in senior management for more than 15 years at the British Institute of Human Rights, British Red Cross and Womankind Worldwide in the UK and the Refugee Council of Australia. She worked for the Constitutional Court and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in her native country, Colombia.

    Carolina has served on a number of boards in London, Brussels, Bangkok and Melbourne including law centres and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM). Carolina is currently the co-chair of the End Child Detention Coalition (ECDC) Australia and the chair of the women and girls group, member of the board and focal point on the Global Compact on Migration at the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN). She is also a board members of the global International Detention Coalition (IDC). Carolina has excellent advocacy experience at national, regional and UN levels. She is a member of the UN Women’s global Expert Working Group to address the human rights of women in the Global Compact on Migration.

  • 12 September 2019: Banishment and the Pre-history of Legitimate Expulsion Power
    Matthew Gibney
    Professor Matthew J Gibney

    Banishment and the Pre-history of Legitimate Expulsion Power

    In the introduction of a recent work on the denationalization of terrorists across the West, the legal scholar Audrey Macklin announced that “after decades in exile, banishment is back” (Macklin 2015). Over the last decade, as new laws allowing individuals to be stripped of citizenship have sprung across liberal democratic states, many others have also analogised denationalization to this medieval practice. In this talk, I explore not why banishment has returned, or the consequences of its revival, but why it went away in the first place. Before the twentieth century, the expulsion of individual offenders, typically citizens or settled residents as punishment, was in everyday use across Europe. Banishment’s ubiquity and frequency reflected a widespread and deeply ingrained view that membership and continued presence in political society was contingent upon behaviour that adhered to the law and dominant societal norms. The historical rootedness of banishment, as well as its putative revival, make it important to understand the twists and turns of this practice over the (very) longue durée. My examination will attempt to answer three questions: first, how are citizenship and banishment interrelated historically? Second, why did banishment fall out of fashion at the end of the eighteenth century? Third, what are the differences and similarities between modern practices of legitimate expulsion power (like deportation and denationalization) and the historical practice of banishment?

    Matthew J Gibney is Professor of Politics and Forced Migration at the University of Oxford, Official Fellow of Linacre College, Oxford, and Director of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre. He is also a Distinguished Fellow of the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the University of Toronto. Professor Gibney specialises in the political and ethical issues raised by refugees, citizenship, and migration control. Born in Melbourne, Australia, he was educated at Monash University (BEc (Hons)) and, as a Commonwealth Scholar, at King’s College, University of Cambridge (MPhil; PhD). He is the author of many scholarly articles, chapters and books, including The Ethics and Politics of Asylum (2004), Globalizing Rights (2003), which has been translated into Italian and Spanish, The Normative, Historical and Political Contours of Deportation (2013) (edited with Bridget Anderson and Emanuela Paoletti) and (with Randall Hansen) Immigration and Asylum (2005), a three volume encyclopedia. His published research has dealt with issues of asylum, deportation, citizenship, globalization, and statelessness and has appeared in journals such as the American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, Government and Opposition, Political Studies, JEMS, and Citizenship Studies, as well as several anthologies of influential academic writing in migration studies and in international relations. His next book, Denationalization and the Liberal State, will be published by Cambridge in 2020.

  • 5 September 2019:War, Nationality and Nationalism: Denied Citizenship following the Disintegration of Former Yugoslavia

    Professor Aleksandar Marsavelski

    War, Nationality and Nationalism: Denied Citizenship following the Disintegration of Former Yugoslavia

    In former Yugoslavia, besides the federal citizenship, an internal citizenship of each of the six republics existed. The breakup of Yugoslavia was driven by nationalist tensions that resulted in a bloody war. The previously irrelevant internal citizenship suddenly mattered. The emerging governmental policies towards citizenship of successor countries depended on the type of nationalism that the new political elites manifested. ‘Particularistic nationalism’, according to Louis Wirth’s (1936) typology, resulted in a Slovenian and Croatian policy to deny citizenship to people from other Yugoslav republics.
    In Slovenia, this resulted in a group of 25 671 citizens becoming known as the 'Erased', and almost all of them became stateless and deprived of economic and social rights linked to the permanent resident status. It took years of litigation until the Slovenian Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights issued decision finding breaches of constitutional and human rights (in Kurić and others v. Slovenia). Croatian citizenship law was also discriminatory on ethnic grounds, and another problem was discriminatory application of the law, leaving most of the 200,000 Croatian Serbs without Croatian citizenship until early 2000s. In 2009, a new category of 'Erased' citizens emerged following an Interior Minister’s internal instruction to verify the citizenship of ethnic non-Croats. Because errors existed in the (previously internal) citizenship registry from the Yugoslav period, thousands of people who had Croatian citizenship all their lives by error suddenly received decisions declaring their citizenship void and leaving them stateless until the citizenship law amendment in 2015. However, 5000 ‘opposite cases’ – Croatian Serbs registered by error into Serbian citizenship at birth –
    are still expecting the outcome of litigations before Croatian and Serbian courts, as well as the European Court of Human Rights in the pending case of Škorić v Croatia. The paradox of these opposite cases is that Serbian authorities use statelessness as an argument to refuse to correct the error. The lecture will also address relevant judgments of the European Court of Human Rights on citizenship in relation to the right to private and family life and discrimination.

    Aleksandar Marsavelski, PhD, LLM (Yale), Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, Croatia. Legal representative in the case of Škorić v. Croatia before the European Court of Human Rights (App. No. 1591/19). After graduation, he worked as junior assistant in the Ministry of Justice of Croatia, and then became was a member of several law commissions in Croatia. Since 2010 he has taught at the University of Zagreb. He earned his LL.M. from Yale Law School, where he served as editor of the Yale Journal of International Law. He received the Max Planck Society's doctoral scholarship in 20142015 for his joint PhD at the University of Freiburg (summa cum laude). Since 2014 he has been involved in the TransCrim project. Since 2016 he has been an advisor of the Korean Transitional Justice Working Group, and a foreign secretary general at the Institute of Law, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in China. In August. 2017 he was an EU visiting fellow at the Australian National University, in May 2018 he was an Erasmus visiting lecturer at the Lomonosov State University, and in September 2018 he was a strategic partnership visiting scholar at the Melbourne University. He is also a collaborator on the Peacebuilding Compared project, and a member of the European Criminology Group on Atrocity Crimes and Transitional Justice (ECACTJ).

  • 29 August 2019: Detention of asylum seekers in the UK
    Sir NIcholas Blake
    Sir Nicholas Blake

    Detention of asylum seekers in the UK

    The Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness was delighted to have the Hon. Sir Nicholas Blake deliver this seminar at Melbourne Law School.

    Sir Nicholas Blake is a founder member of Matrix Chambers, UK, and was its first chair from 2000-2002. He was appointed a Recorder in 2000, and in 2002 became a Deputy High Court Judge and a Bencher of the Middle Temple. Sir Blake specialised in public law, criminal justice, human rights, immigration and asylum and private international law. He has written and spoken in the UK and internationally on these topics. In 2007 he was appointed a High Court Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division and assigned to the Administrative Court. He served as the first President of the newly created Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the United Kingdom Upper Tribunal from February 2010 and served until October 2013. In 2016 and 2017 he has participated in training seminars in adversarial criminal justice in Latin America, speaking with judges and prosecutors in Columbia, Peru, Panama and Mexico. Sir Blake retired from the judiciary in 2017 though continues to serve as a Deputy High Court Judge.

  • 22 August 2019: Institutional Disrespect: The Structural Marginalisation of Refugee Migrants in Australia
    Ibi Losoncz
    Dr Ibi Losoncz

    Institutional Disrespect: The Structural Marginalisation of Refugee Migrants in Australia

    Whose responsibility is it to address the disrespect felt by immigrants and other marginalised groups in their dealings with government institutions? In this seminar Ibi Losoncz, the author of Institutional Disrespect, argues that when disrespect comes in the forms of injustice, institutional mistreatment, or systemic in governance arrangements, the responsibility lies not with individuals but with the state, its institutions and its appointed bureaucrats. Combining theoretical analysis of institutional engagement through the lens of respect with examples of the resettlement experiences of South Sudanese Australians, the seminar examines how blocked pathways to develop positive self-identities and meaningful lives can lead to a breakdown of social bonds between immigrants and social institutions.

    Ibolya (Ibi) Losoncz is a research fellow at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet), at the Australian National University, Australia. She has been researching and writing about the integration of South Sudanese and other resettled refugees in Australia for the past ten years.

  • 1 August 2019: From Muddy Boots to Business Class: To the Emergency Frontlines and Back

    Bina D'Costa

    Assoc Prof Bina D'Costa

    From Muddy Boots to Business Class: To the Emergency Frontlines and Back

    While these children have been quickly left unremembered, the recurrent multilayered yet somehow homogeneous narrative of a very large number of children displaced, missing, and dead invokes anxiety, demands our attention and underlines a central problem – we simply do not know enough about the dynamics and complexities of children and young people on the migration pathway. There are a lot of assumptions about children’s displacement but not enough research-informed understanding of this phenomenon.

    How can we make sense of such constructions of innocence and vulnerability and the contradictory state practices and strategies that exacerbate protection risks? This presentation provides insights from three recent global emergencies, and reflects on how evidence-based research and learning from experience can be used to strengthen global protection mechanisms.

    Bina D'Costa is an Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia-Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University. She is also the school’s Deputy Director - Education. At the height of Europe’s refugee emergency, she moved to UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti as its senior migration and displacement research specialist to build its Migration and Displacement program (2016-2018). She is the author of seven books including Children and the Politics of Violence in South Asia (CUP). Bina has also served as the Asia Rapporteur for the Asia-Europe 55 member states ASEM global meeting on Children and Human Rights in 2017.

    The now-iconic image of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body washed up on a beach in Turkey in September 2015 sparked a public outcry and turned global attention to Europe’s refugee emergency. In 2017, the image of Aylan was replaced with that of a one-year-old Rohingya boy’s lifeless body lying on the muddy shores of Naf river along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. In 2018, a two-year-old Honduran girl’s image that captured her fear and anguish as her mother was searched near the United States-Mexico border replaced this little boy, whose name we will never know.
  • 6 June 2019: Citizenship and Statelessness in Myanmar
    Nyi Nyi Kyaw
    Dr Nyi Nyi Kyaw

    Regressive, Arbitrary Identity Documentation Policies and Practices in Myanmar

    Whether the Rohingyas or ‘Bengalis’ are bona fide citizens and whether they have or deserve temporary and permanent identity documents are among most important questions in trying or helping to solve the chronic plight of the ‘stateless’ Rohingyas in Myanmar. However, actual citizenship and/or identity documentation policies and practices in Myanmar are regressive and arbitrary. I will discuss the three documents that the Rohingyas have held or are given instead of the more permanent Citizenship Scrutiny Card (CSC): the National Registration Card (NRC); the Temporary Identity Card (TIC or White Card); and the National Verification Card (NVC).

    Nyi Nyi Kyaw has been a visiting fellow in the Myanmar Studies Programme of the ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore since January 2019. He received his PhD in international and political studies from the University of New South Wales in 2015. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Asian Legal Studies at the National University of Singapore from August 2016 until December 2018. He works on identity, religion, nationalism, social movements, citizenship, law, and constitutionalism. His country of specialization is Myanmar but he closely follows Indonesia and Sri Lanka where religiously-motivated nationalism and populism affects electoral and non-electoral politics. His research has been published or is forthcoming in the Review of Faith & International Affairs, Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, Social Identities, and Chinese Journal of Comparative Law. He has also contributed to several edited volumes on religion, constitutionalism, and citizenship.

  • 2 May 2019: Resettlement of Refugee Immigrants in Australia: Agency and Affordances
    Gerald Onsando

    Dr Gerald Onsando

    Resettlement of Refugee Immigrants in Australia: Agency and Affordances

    Across the world, including in Australia, the population of refugee immigrants is growing. Yet, understandings about how best their resettlement needs can be addressed remain under-informed. Despite being in relatively safe environments, adult refugee immigrants in Australia continue to experience poor
    educational, occupational, and social inclusion challenges. This may be due to compounded effects of possible difficult past refugee life experiences and the often distressing and challenging resettlement experiences. In this seminar, Dr Gerald Onsando (University of Melbourne) and John
    Riek (Afri-Aus Care) will explore the life experiences of refugee immigrants and the social structural affordances that often constrain their capacity to exercise the personal agency required to fully contribute to and participate in Australian society.

    Gerald was joined by John Riek in delivering this seminar.

    Dr Gerald Onsando is a Research Fellow at the School of Social and Political Sciences, the University of Melbourne. Dr Onsando is currently working on a project that is focusing on life after prison support for African Australians through the practice of Ubuntu.

    John Riek has a Bachelor of Social Work (Hons) from the RMIT University and is currently working as an Employment Pathway and Facilitator at the Afri-Aus Care organisation supporting culturally diverse young people in and around the City of Greater Dandenong. Mr Riek is a member of the South Sudanese community in Melbourne who came to Australia as a refugee from the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.

  • 4 April 2019: Minority Statelessness and Racialized Citizenship: Romani minorities and the Uneven Access to Citizenship
    Julija Sardelic

    Dr Julija Sardelic  

    Minority Statelessness and Racialized Citizenship: Romani minorities and the Uneven Access to Citizenship

    Recent UNHCR data has shown that more than 75 % of stateless people belong to a minority group. Although this data indicated that minorities are more vulnerable to statelessness, it is not every minority group that faces same degree of vulnerability. This paper poses a question, what circumstances make
    certain minority groups more vulnerable to statelessness than the majority population and also other minorities. It takes an example of Romani minorities in Europe, who have in different contexts found themselves with a hindered access to citizenship and hence at the risk of statelessness. It then explores
    how does the position of Roma in Europe compare to other examples of minority statelessness in Europe and around the globe, such as:  Russian speaking minorities in the Baltic States, children of the ‘Windrush’ generation in the United Kingdom, the Dominicans of Haitian descent, and Rohingya
    minority in Myanmar. With the theoretical reconsideration of racialized citizenship, I argue that in these selected cases the states introduced legislation, discourses and practices, which retroactively transformed minorities in question from citizens to irregular or illegitimate migrants.

    Dr Julija Sardelić is a socio-legal scholar and currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at LINES (Leuven European and International Studies), University of Leuven, Belgium. Her Marie Skłodowska-Curie research project is entitled “Invisible Edges of Citizenship: Readdressing the Position of Romani Minorities in Europe”.  Her research encompasses broader themes of citizenship and migration, but she particularly focuses on the legal statuses of marginalized minorities and migrants in Europe such as: Romani minorities, undocumented forced migrants, legally invisible persons and stateless persons. Before her Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship, she was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the School of Law and Social Justice (University of Liverpool), Max Weber Fellow (European University Institute) and School of Law (University of Edinburgh). Prior to her academic career, she has a decade long experience of working as a civil society activist in Romani communities. She is an individual member of the European Network on Statelessness.


  • 4 October 2018: Statelessness & Citizenship in Kenya by Samantha Balaton-Chrimes
    Samatha Balaton-Chrimes
    Dr Samatha Balaton-Chrimes

    Statelessness and Citizenship in Kenya
    Statelessness as a legal and political problem has attracted increasing attention from scholars and international advocacy organisations in recent years. This attention has predominantly focused on the legal aspects of statelessness, and has generally held the acquisition of citizenship documentation as the primary goal in remedying citizenship deprivation. This talk explores the merits of this focus through a case study of the Nubians of Kenya, widely considered stateless until recently. The talk connects the focus on citizenship as documented status to a liberal conception of citizenship, identifying the ways in which this approach is helpful – that is, as a means of pursuing legal status and possession of individual rights. Dr Balaton-Chrimes will also explore the more important ways in which a liberal conception of citizenship falls short of accounting for the Nubians’ citizenship problems by neglecting the more collective dimensions of citizenship practice and recognition. In particular, she will discuss the significance for citizenship of the Nubians’ 2017 acquisition of communal title deed for 288 acres of Kibra, an informal settlement in the middle of Nairobi.

    Dr Samantha Balaton-Chrimes is a Lecturer in International Studies at Deakin University.

  • 20 Sept 2018: Proposed Citizenship Changes and Refugees / Stateless Persons by Dr Heli Askola
    Heli Askola

    Dr Heli Askola

    Applicants will need to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community'': Proposed Citizenship Changes and Refugees/Stateless Persons

    According to the Federal Government’s proposed 2017 citizenship package, which will be re-introduced in 2018, applicants for citizenship by conferral would be required to show that they have ‘integrated into the Australian community’. This lecture examines the idea of integration requirements, using evidence from other jurisdictions to sketch out the meaning and scope of the concept. It analyses the background for the proposed changes and examines their possible consequences, especially for refugees/stateless persons.

    Dr Heli Askola is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, Monash University. Her research interests include comparative immigration and citizenship policy; labour and sexual exploitation of migrants, including trafficking in human beings; and freedom of movement and migration in the EU. She has published widely in these areas. Her publications include Citizenship and Demographic Change (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and Legal Responses to Trafficking in Women for Sexual Exploitation in the European Union (Hart Publishing, 2007).

  • 6 Sept 2018: Is Pham a Vietnamese National? by Dr Rayner Thwaites
    Dr Rayner Thwaites

    Dr Rayner Thwaites  

    Is Mr Pham a Vietnamese National? Citizenship Deprivation and Foreign Nationality Law in Municipal Courts

    In Pham (2015), the United Kingdom Supreme Court decided that Mr Pham was, as a matter of Vietnamese law, a Vietnamese national. This conclusion was in conflict with the position of the Vietnamese authorities, who did not accept that he was. This divergence as to the content of municipal Vietnamese nationality law – between the institutions of the state of nationality and those of a foreign state – raises in dramatic form questions concerning the treatment of foreign nationality law in municipal courts.

    Different conclusions were reached not only by the British and Vietnamese authorities, but by the relevant adjudicative bodies in the United Kingdom. The British litigation saw decisions that Mr Pham was not a Vietnamese national, and decisions that he was. These different conclusions arose from differences of interpretive approach between the relevant courts and tribunals. The interpretive differences were in turn informed by different readings of relevant international law materials, centrally guidance on statelessness provided by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

    This seminar will analyse the different interpretive approaches employed in the Pham litigation, grounded in British public law and applied to both Vietnamese and international law. The context for this analysis is twofold: the common law tradition with regard to the treatment of foreign nationality law and the relevant international law debates on statelessness.

    Dr Rayner Thwaites is a Senior Lecturer in Public and Administrative Law at the University of Sydney and an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher. His ARC grant project is titled “Conditional Citizenship: Revocation’s Implications for Australians” and is comparative study of citizenship deprivation, focusing on Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. He is the author of the GLOBALCIT Report on Citizenship Law: Australia and of The Liberty of Noncitizens: Indefinite Detention in Commonwealth Countries (Hart Publishing, 2014), among other publications. His most recent paper accepted for publication, coauthored with Assoc Prof Andrew Edgar, is “Implementing Treaties in Domestic Law: Translation, Enforcement and Administrative law” in the Melbourne Journal of International Law (forthcoming). He has an SJD from the University of Toronto.enship and Demographic Change (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and Legal Responses to Trafficking in Women for Sexual Exploitation in the European Union (Hart Publishing, 2007).

  • 23 Aug 2018: The lived experiences of children of transnational migrants in Lombok, Indonesia by Dr Harriot Beazley
    Dr Harriot Beazley

    Dr Harriot Beazley

    The Lived Experiences of Children of Transnational Migrants in Lombok, Indonesia

    In contemporary Indonesia economic forces have led to a significant rise in transnational labour, with an accompanying surge in family fragmentation. Policies on transnational labour migration, however, do not adequately consider the rights of children of migrant workers, including their right to an official identity and to protection in a family environment. This seminar discusses how the lack of accessibility to birth registration for children of migrant parents on the island of Lombok, Eastern Indonesia, has resulted in considerable risks for children left behind by their migrant parents. These risks include being unable to access entitlements associated with citizenship, being regarded as de facto stateless, and being exposed to numerous child protection issues while their parents are overseas. Drawing on the results of child-focussed research with children and young people in rural Lombok the paper reveals children’s lived experiences while their parents are away, and the deep feelings they articulate about their parents’ sustained absence. A prominent issue that emerged from the research was how children of migrants are entangled in a multigenerational pattern of undocumented and unsafe migration, leading to inter-generational statelessness. Some children described how they felt they were in some sort of limbo, waiting for something to happen, which included waiting until they were old enough to migrate themselves. By concentrating on children’s own views and experiences, the paper contributes to current debates about the implications of migration and statelessness in the Southeast Asia region.

    Dr Harriot Beazley is a human geographer and community development practitioner with a passion for rightsbased research with children and young people. She is Program Coordinator (International Development) and Senior Lecturer (Human Geography) at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. Harriot’s research interests are directed towards childfocussed participatory research in Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia. Her PhD (ANU) research was ethnographic research on the geographies and identities of street children in Indonesia. Since then she has consulted as a technical advisor to AusAID, UNICEF, DEFRA (UK), Save the Children and DFAT on a variety of child protection, social inclusion and gender issues. Harriot has conducted research and published widely on street children in Indonesia and Cambodia, the physical and emotional punishment of children in Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia, the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Indonesia, children’s experiences in orphanages after the tsunami in Aceh, children in prison in Indonesia, and the impact of transnational migration on children in Lombok, Indonesia. Harriot is a member of the Research Forum of the International Consortium for Street Children, and is Commissioning Editor for the Journal Children's Geographies.

  • 09 Aug 2018: Children of 'Cross-border Marriages' and Nationality in Vietnam by Prof Susan Kneebone
    Professor Susan Kneebone

    Professor Susan Kneebone

    Children of ‘Cross Border Marriages’ and Nationality in Can Tho, Mekong Delta, Vietnam

    The second in the Statelessness Seminar Series 2018 took place on 9 August 2018 with a presentation by Professor Susan Kneebone and PhD students, Brandais York and Sayomi Ariyawansa.

    This seminar presents the preliminary findings on data collection on the situation of bi-racial children born from international marriages between Vietnamese women and fathers in South Korea and Taiwan, who are returned to Vietnam following a failed marriage. This work is part of the larger ARC project ’Development of a Legal Framework for Regulation of International Marriage Migration’.  A key concern of this data collection is to evaluate the rights of the children in light of the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, especially Articles 7 and 8, which contain provisions which confer independent rights of nationality and identity upon a child. The seminar will explain the laws and regulation of nationality in Vietnam, and the different legal and contextual situations of the children, many of whom are de facto statelessness in in Vietnam. We will examine the effectiveness of central and local regulation of the rights of the children.

    Susan Kneebone researches in the area of international migration, nationality and citizenship law, including refugees, statelessness, human trafficking, marriage migration and migrant workers, with particular reference to South East Asia.  She has published widely in international journals including the Journal of Refugee Studies, the International Journal of Refugee Law [‘The Pacific Plan: the Provision of ‘Effective Protection’?’ (2006) 18 (3, 4)], the Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law [‘Outing off-shore processing: the High Court of Australia defines the role of the Refugee Convention’ (2012).Susan is a Professorial Fellow and Associate at the Asian Law Centre at Melbourne Law School.

  • 26 July 2018: A noncitizenist look at statelessness and the global compact for migration by Dr Tendayi Bloom
    Dr Tendayi Bloom

    Dr Tendayi Bloom

    A noncitizenist look at statelessness and the global compact for migration

    Our world is commonly understood as a world of citizens. Citizenship is often ideologically assumed to be desirable, enfranchising and rights-providing. This paper argues that this is a mischaracterisation and defends a more complex noncitizenist approach. It explores what this means for understandings of statelessness and for how statelessness is addressed in the global compact for migration in particular.

    Tendayi Bloom is a Lecturer in Politics and International Studies at The Open University in the UK. She is author of Noncitizenism: Recognising Noncitizen Capabilities in a World of Citizens (Routledge, 2018) and editor most recently of Understanding Statelessness (Routledge, 2017, with K Tonkiss and P Cole).

  • Refugee Alternatives Conference 2018

    Refugee Alternatives Conference Panel

    Hosted by Refugee Council of Australia in conjunction with the University of Melbourne, this two-day conference brought together a broad range of expertise covering topics of displacement; protection; cooperation; well-being; resilience; education; advocacy; and unity from across the country and across the globe. The conference is held annually. Further information.

  • 26 March 2018 - Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness Launch

    The Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness was officially launched at Melbourne Law School on Monday 26 March with over 180 attendees.

    It was an honour to host MLS alumnus Peter McMullin and his wife Ruth, whose generosity, vision and commitment to the issue of statelessness has enabled the establishment of the Centre.

    The launch featured a panel discussion led by Centre Director Professor Michelle Foster, and included virtual messages from the Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, and the head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi. Other expert speakers included Dr Fernand de Varennes RP, Doyen, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues; Ms Erika Feller, Professorial Fellow, Melbourne School of Government, and former Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, UNHCR; and Professor Kim Rubenstein, Australian National University.

    Speakers discussed the scale and scope of the global challenge of statelessness, its impact, the role of the United Nations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in addressing the challenge, and the role of academic research in contributing to the eradication of statelessness.

    Event Photo Gallery

    Listen to an audio recording of the panel discussion at the launch