Statelessness in the Asia-Pacific Region

The Asia-Pacific region hosts one of the largest number of the known stateless people in the world. Given its location in Australia, the Centre has made the region a priority for its research efforts. The Centre is supporting the development of regional research and teaching capacities on statelessness and closely collaborates with civil society networks, such as the Statelessness Network Asia Pacific (SNAP). Together with the UNHCR, the Centre co-hosted a regional academic roundtable on “Researching and Understanding Statelessness in Southeast Asia: The Role of Academic Research and Education” in Bangkok (25-26 September 2019). The roundtable was hosted by the Social Research Institute of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, and a follow-on event is planned for 2021.

The positive dynamics and partnerships forged during this event are now being carried over into the implementation of a joint NUS-MLS research partnership project. The main output will be the first comparative edited volume on ‘Statelessness in Asia’. This interdisciplinary book project seeks to examine the nature and complex realities of statelessness in Asia. While grounded in concrete situations of statelessness in Asia, authors bring these into conversation with broader themes and issues that transcend individual case studies.

Beyond regional-level engagement, Centre researchers also engage with major statelessness situations in the region.

The Centre has built a research and engagement program on Myanmar, both through field trips and network-building. It is also supporting a Myanmar Researcher Network at the University of Melbourne. Centre staff are involved with an International Expert Group in support of a mapping and profiling study on undocumented persons and communities in Sabah, Malaysia, jointly implemented by the United Nations Country Team and the Government of Malaysia.

The Centre has also contributed to examining and reforming gender-discriminatory nationality laws in the region, including through an expert training workshop in Kiribati (November 2019) and PhD research into gender discrimination in Nepal’s nationality law. The Centre’s PhD scholars are also researching statelessness in the context of the Syrian refugee crisis and support the establishment of a MENA statelessness network.

Publications associated with this project:

  • Thomas McGee, and Zahra Albarazi, 'Eight years of Displacement: Syria's Statelessness still Unidentified' (2020) 8(2) Oxford Monitor of Forced Migration 39-43.

For more information about the project, please contact the team via law-statelessness@unimelb.edu.au.