International society and the risk of statelessness

In 2014, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees launched its Global Action Plan on Statelessness, which identifies the potential for individuals to be at risk of statelessness. The phrase ‘risk of statelessness’ first appears in UNHCR documents in 1996, and between 2000 and 2018, it had been used over 650 times. As a concept, risk of statelessness remains under-examined in the literature on statelessness. Given the proliferation of work on vulnerability and risk within International Relations, it is ripe for examination.

As concepts, both ‘risk’ and ‘statelessness’ imply substantial uncertainty, and the 2014 Plan identifies risk of statelessness as the situation of those who ‘have difficulties proving that they have links to a state’. Risk of statelessness is therefore a highly contingent and ambiguous concept. This seminar explores what is at stake in the risk of statelessness, grounding this in wider discussions of vulnerability, and of the governance of pluralism and uncertainty in relation to nationality and statelessness.