His project will analyse the legal regime governing statelessness.
The Swiss National Science Foundation recently announced its decision to award funding to a research project headed by Professor Vincent Chetail entitled “Statelessness in international law: which regime(s) for which right(s) ?”. The project aims at producing a book-length work that will document and analyse the international legal regime governing statelessness.
Statelessness affects an estimated 12 million people. This worldwide phenomenon has a particularly thorny impact on the lives of individuals, as possession of nationality is a prerequisite for participation in society and effective respect of human rights. Statelessness occurs for a variety of reasons, including discrimination against minority groups, state secession and succession, as well as inadequate and conflicting legislations between states.
However, the current international legal framework is undermined by several shortcomings. In particular, the two UN treaties specifically devoted to this enduring phenomenon (i.e. the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness) are poorly ratified by states. In addition to these specific instruments, the other applicable norms governing statelessness are dispersed among various sources of international law. The current international legal framework governing statelessness is composed of a wide variety of principles and rules belonging to numerous branches of international law (such as refugee law, human rights law, private international law and the law governing state succession). The amalgam of such eclectic set of norms is far from constituting a comprehensive regime. This undermines in turn their understanding and coherent application by states.
The main objective of the research is to propose a holistic approach of statelessness with a view to identify good practices relevant for states and international organisations. It will accordingly assess whether the existing applicable norms are adequate and to what extent they should be amended for tackling the multifaceted challenges of statelessness.
Vincent Chetail is Associate Professor of Public International Law at the Graduate Institute, and Research Director at the Programme for the Study of Global Migration and at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. He is the author of numerous books and articles in the field of international refugee law, international migration law and human rights law.