Call for Papers / Submission of Abstracts
Symposium Co-Organised by the North-West University (NWU) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
The International Human Right to a Nationality, the Prevention of Statelessness and the Protection of Stateless Individuals in the 21st Century
Dates: 31 October – 2 November 2017
Venue: North-West University (NWU), Mafikeng Campus Mafikeng, North-West, South Africa
1. Background: Nationality, Statelessness, and the Protection of Stateless Persons
A person is stateless if no State considers him or her as a national under the operation of its law. Statelessness is widely understood to have a devastating human impact, depriving the affected individuals of fundamental rights and dignity. Estimates indicate that about 10 million individuals are affected globally. Discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and gender may be seen as the most important cause(s) of statelessness. Societal modernization and transformation processes, shortcomings in civil status registration, disintegration of traditional family bonds, and the multigenerational movement of migrant workers are potent factors that increase the risk of statelessness.
The individual human right to a nationality is enshrined in core human rights instruments (starting with Art. 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Its fulfillment is made operational by the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and by several regional instruments, for example the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Specific rights of stateless persons are protected by the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.
In 2014, the international community launched a campaign to end statelessness. The ‘Global Action Plan 2014 – 2024 to End Statelessness’ (Global Action Plan), to be implemented under the auspices of UNHCR, can be seen as a far-reaching rule of law intervention with a global reach. It addresses aspects of universal, regional and national law(s) and practices, activities of all branches of government, and engages a variety of non-governmental stakeholders. Since 2014, the international community has pursued the Global Action Plan through various fora and instruments: e.g., the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN General Assembly and recommendations by the Human Rights Treaty Bodies. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum and the SADC Ministerial Dialogue on Migration (MIDSA) have adopted resolutions and recommendations on how to end statelessness and to better protect stateless persons in the region.
While civil society organizations have been discussing these developments broadly, there still remains ample scope for legal scholars and practitioners to fill present legal research gaps in this area. It is envisaged that this three-day symposium provides an opportunity to promote legal research and the development of legal doctrine on nationality and statelessness.
2. NWU and UNHCR Regional Representation for Southern Africa as Co-Hosts of the Symposium
The UNHCR Regional Representation for Southern Africa (ROSA) has been engaged in the regional implementation of the Global Action Plan through technical advice, policy advocacy, capacity building, and strong partnerships with civil society organizations. Given the dearth of global and regional legal research on statelessness, co-operation with professional legal scholars is among ROSA’s priorities for 2017. As a co-host of the symposium, ROSA anticipates to receive high quality academic input on legal aspects of the statelessness campaign. Academic contributions are expected to be relevant to the region, as well as on a global level.
The North-West University’s Faculty of Law is at the forefront of different areas of legal research such as Public International Law; International Human Rights Law; Environmental Law and Governance; International Criminal Law and Justice; Constitutional Law; Estate Law; Comparative Child Law; International Trade Law; Labour Law; and Legal Philosophy. With postgraduate offerings that are sanctioned with the award of Masters and Doctorate Degrees, the Faculty in particular and University in general provide the avenue and resources for students to engage in critical legal thinking enabling them to comprehend complex legal principles and apply them to contextualized scenarios. In addition, they are challenged to interrogate things the way they are, and with bold and innovative imaginations, postulate persuasive thoughts as evidence of deep, lateral and critical thinking. In doing this, they position themselves at the fore, with huge relevance to contemporary issues facing the country, region, continent and globe.
3. Agenda of the Symposium
The Symposium endeavors to gather national and international legal scholars and practitioners to discuss the international human right to a nationality; the prevention of statelessness; and the protection of stateless individuals in the 21st century. It is envisaged that this symposium will attract a high caliber of scholars and practitioners in this area, some of whom will come from the NWU’s repository of academics. It is also expected that the contribution of international and national scholars will be essential in ensuring a rewarding, meaningful and substantive academic debate. The
symposium will last three full days and consist of six topic specific panels. All panels will be introduced by a keynote speaker. The panels will include national or international senior experts, but at the same time, give postgraduate students an opportunity to present their research results. All participants of the symposium are expected to present. The following proposals are intended as preliminary guidance for research and presentation topics, which will need further discussion with the organizers.
Panels 1 and 2: The prevention of statelessness
- National sovereignty in nationality matters and the prevention of statelessness
- The limits of democratic legitimacy in excluding minority groups from nationality
- Which international legal guarantees (universal and regional) are most effective in preventing statelessness?
- Which lacunae in domestic nationality laws have which impact on the actual occurrence of statelessness?
- Comparative studies: Addressing major situations of statelessness (e.g., Japan, Ivory Coast, Iraq, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Russia, Lithuania, …)
- Deprivation and securisation of nationality
Panels 3 and 4: The protection of stateless individuals
- Human rights before the emergence of the individual as a subject of public international law: The 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons in historical perspective
- The rights of stateless persons vs. universal human rights: Diversification and fragmentation of human rights protection standards?
- Comparison of protection standards for stateless individuals vs. general human rights law: Which added legal value has a separate regime for stateless individuals?
- Is there a cultural bias in international law and practice as regards the protection of stateless individuals?
- Which international best practice examples for statelessness determination procedures exist? Which of them provide good guidance for Southern Africa?
Panel 5: Nationality, statelessness, and international governance
- The exercise of public authority by international organizations: Promoting good governance and the rule of law through the Global Action Plan
- Addressing statelessness as a multi-layer system (interface between universal, regional, and national law)
- The effectiveness of international governance through soft law (e.g., the Abidjan and Brazil Declarations on statelessness)
- The role of parliaments in sovereign States and the Global Action Plan
Panel 6: Nationality, statelessness, and migration
- Statelessness as a root cause and consequence of migration
- Nationality and freedom of movement: The “right to have rights”, or the legal basis for the exclusion of access to territories?
- Machine Readable Convention Travel Documents for Stateless Persons: International legal obligations, scope of access to MRCTD, main challenges to the issuance of MRCTD
- Stateless persons in mixed migration flows
- Nationality as a legal prerequisite for repatriation
- Dual nationality and the prevention of statelessness
- Stateless persons at sea
4. Call for Papers/Submission of Abstracts
Individuals interested in participating in this symposium are requested to submit an abstract (not longer than 500 words) to the following addresses: Avitus.Agbor@nwu.ac.za and firstname.lastname@example.org Abstracts should contain the name(s) and institutional affiliation(s) of the author(s); their preferred panel(s) and should be sent as an MS Word document or PDF. The deadline for the submission of abstracts is August 31, 2017. Authors of selected abstracts will be contacted in the first week of September 2017.
The symposium will take place at the Mafikeng Campus of the NWU. Mafikeng (or Mahikeng) is the capital city of the North-West Province of South Africa, and will run from 31 October to 2 November 2017. Participation is free of charge. The organizers will not be able to provide stipends for travelling expenses and accommodation.
6. Contact Persons
The following persons are contactable for any information related to the forthcoming symposium:
- Professor Avitus Agbor,
Research Associate Professor of Law School of Postgraduate Studies and Research
Faculty of Law, North-West University, Mafikeng Campus. Email: Avitus.Agbor@nwu.ac.za
- Dr. Matthias Reuss
Senior Regional Protection Officer (Statelessness) UNHCR Regional Representation for Southern Africa 351 Francis Baard Street, Pretoria, South Africa Email: email@example.com