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Public Seminar Series, Michaelmas term 2018

Series convenors: Professor Matthew Gibney, Professor Cathryn Costello, Professor Tom Scott-Smith

Seminar held on 7 November 2018

About the seminar

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.

About the speaker

Dr Kelly Staples is Associate Professor of International Politics in the Department of Politics & International Relations at the University of Leicester. She is also Director of Learning & Teaching for the department. She has ongoing research interests in the status of the individual in world politics and International Relations (IR), the definition of statelessness, the meaning of international protection, and International Political Theory more broadly. She is currently involved in collaborative work on ethics, imagination and International Relations, and in a project on the meaning of international protection.

She is the author of Re-theorising Statelessness: a Background Theory of Membership in World Politics (2012, Edinburgh University Press).


Photo: Asylum-seekers leaving Lesvos after the Government authorised them to continue procedures on mainland Greece. Credit: UNHCR/Yorgos Kyvernitis