The Hague Colloquium on the Future of Legal Identity

Civil Registration Centre for Development, The Hague and the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, Johannesburg

Laura van Waas

Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion

Laura van Waas is a co-founder of the Institute on Statelessness and one of its two Directors. She is also a part-time Assistant Professor in the Department of European and International Law at Tilburg Law School in the Netherlands. She is one of few people to date who has conducted doctoral research on statelessness and her PhD manuscript, 'Nationality Matters' (published by Intersentia in 2008), is widely used as a reference for understanding international statelessness law by researchers and practitioners all over the world. In more than a decade of working on the issue of statelessness, Laura has carried out a wide array of research and teaching projects, both within academia and for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other actors. She has worked as a consultant for UNHCR's headquarters in Geneva as well as the regional offices for the Middle East and North Africa in Beirut and for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok. She has supervised or conducted studies on statelessness for, among others, Plan International, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Open Society Foundations, the Women's Refugee Commission, the United States Department of State, the European Parliament and the Norwegian Refugee Council. Laura is also one of the co-founders and an active member of the European Network on Statelessness. Some of the work that Laura has been engaged in has looked at civil registration from the perspective of the nexus with statelessness. In 2006, she conducted a study for Plan International on birth registration, (irregular) migration and statelessness in Thailand and the Dominican Republic, which led to two publications: Is permanent illegality inevitable? The challenges to ensuring birth registration and the right to a nationality for children of irregular migrants - Thailand and the Dominican Republic, published by Plan International; and The children of irregular migrants: A stateless generation? In the Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights. More recently, Laura was the main drafter of the first publication by the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, The World’s Stateless, which canvasses the state of stateless populations globally, in particular from a statistical perspective. This report comments on the challenges faced in capturing reliable and comprehensive data on statelessness and it is within this context that difficulties also arise which relate to documentation of identity and nationality more broadly. This report can be accessed online here: This year, as campaign consultant for the European Network on Statelessness’ campaign “None of Europe’s children should be stateless”, Laura will be carrying out a scoping study to better understand the interaction between birth registration and the enjoyment of a nationality in Europe with a view to potentially designing a more in depth research project on this topic.