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Statelessness, nationality and the protection of stateless persons


This module explores the international law relating to statelessness and stateless persons and its development over the past sixty years.

Topics covered

  • The concept of ‘nationality’ under international law and the extent of the problem of statelessness worldwide
  • The international community’s responses to statelessness and the development of legal frameworks intended to both reduce/eliminate statelessness and to protect stateless persons.
  • The definition of ‘stateless person’ and challenges faced in applying this definition in practice.
  • The role of human rights law in reducing and preventing statelessness and protecting stateless people.
  • The expanding mandate of UNHCR in respect of Stateless Persons, and national laws and policies relating to statelessness

Learning outcomes

This module provides you with an advanced critical understanding of the concepts, theories, legal/policy standards and mechanisms pertaining to statelessness and stateless persons. You will learn to develop, advance and defend legal and policy arguments evaluating concepts, theories and laws on statelessness and nationality.


This elective module is assessed via a 4,000-word research essay, which comprises 70% of the overall grade, and three online assessments (E-tivities), which make up 30% of the overall grade.

Module team

Dr Tamás Molnár

Dr Tamás Molnár - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Tamás graduated at the Eötvös Lorand University of Budapest (ELTE), Faculty of Law in 2003 (cum laude) and the Université libre de Bruxelles, Institut d’Etudes Européennes in 2006 (LLM in EU law grande distinction) then obtained his PhD in public international law in 2013 at ELTE.
He is a visiting lecturer on international migration law in the Corvinus University of Budapest, Department of International Relations and has published widely in the fields of international law, EU law and statelessness law.

Since 2010, he has done consultancy for UNHCR on statelessness issues and for the European Network on Statelessness since 2014. Since 2016, he works for the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (Vienna) as a legal research officer on asylum, migration and borders in the field of statelessness.

Previously Tamás was head of the Migration Unit, Department of EU Cooperation, Ministry of the Interior of Hungary (2010-14), and was charged with the drafting of the Hungarian statelessness determination procedure in 2006–07. He is an associate member of the European Network on Statelessness (ENS) and holds several other European memberships.

Member institution: School of Advanced Study
Katja Swider

Katja Swider - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Katja Swider is an Assistant Professor at the Amsterdam Center for Migration and Refugee Law at the Free University of Amsterdam. Her research focuses on statelessness, citizenship and human rights, with an additional interest in EU Constitutional Law. Prior to joining the VU, Katja worked as a Senior Research Associate at the University of East Anglia on an ESRC-funded project "Negotiating Brexit".

Katja defended her PhD thesis, entitled "A Rights-Based Approach to Statelessness", in 2018 at the University of Amsterdam. Her doctorate thesis was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). She worked under the supervision of Prof. Leonard Besselink and Prof. René de Groot.

Katja is passionate about teaching and innovation in higher education. At her home university, Katja teaches in the core LLB programme (Fundamental Rights in Europe, Human Rights and Citizenship, and Moot Court), the interdisciplinary ‘Law in Society’ BA (Global Migration Governance), the International Migration and Refugee Law LLM (Selected Topics: Migration Law), and supervises LLB and LLM thesis projects.

In addition to her work as a researcher and a lecturer, Katja regularly consults on migration and statelessness for such organisations as the UNHCR, the EU, and Council of Europe. She has taught on statelessness in various states across Europe and Asia, including Italy, Armenia, Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Ukraine.