Refugee Law and Statelessness - Practical Aspects

Lecture, Seminar
  • Course description

    The study-unit will comprise a series of lectures exploring the legal, policy and practical aspects of two populations: refugees and stateless persons. By linking the two populations, the study-unit will examine the legal regimes governing situations where state fail - intentionally or otherwise - to protect persons. Together with analysing the legal aspects, emerging from international, European and national law, the study-unit will contextualise these populations within their social environments so as to present the social and personal dynamics happening at the micro-cosmic level. In particular, the study-unit will adopt a rights-based understanding of the positioning of the refugee and the stateless person within communities.
  • Main themes

    Refugees and Refugee Law
    Stateless Persons
    Human Rights
    Rights-based approach
    International law
  • Learning outcomes

    1. Knowledge & Understanding:
    By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
    - understand the definitions of refugee and statelessness;
    - understand the nature of state obligations in relation to these populations;
    - identify the sources of law and institutional protection/intervention regarding refugees and stateless persons;
    - understand the trigger elements (in law, policy and practice) that create refugee situations and stateless persons;
    - identify sources of solutions;
    - understand the notion of state protection, and the implications of its absence.
    2. Skills:
    By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
    - engage in discussions on the positioning of refugees and stateless persons within contemporary communities and societies;
    - analyse specific contexts and appreciate their potential for creating refugee or statelessness scenarios;
    - explore legal, policy and other avenues for increased protection of refugees and stateless persons.
  • Assessment methods and criteria

    Assignment (100%)
  • Required reading

    Refugees Primary:
    - James C. Hathaway, The rights of refugees under international law, Cambridge University Press, 2005.
    - Forced Migration Current Awareness,, online blog.
    - ECRE, Policy Note: Chartering a way to protection - The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights - An indispensable instrument in the file of Asylum, 2017. Available at
    Refugees Secondary:
    - ECRE, The Way Forward: Europe's role in the global refugee protection system, 2005.
    Available at
    - IRIN, Time to reform the way we protect refugees?, 2016. Available at
    - Koichi Koizumi and Gerhard Hoffstaedter, Urban Refugees: Challenges in protection, services and policy, Routledge, 2015.
    Statelessness Primary:
    - European Network on Statelessness, ENS Good Practice Guide on Statelessness Determination and the Protection Status of Stateless Persons, 2013. Available at
    - Laura Van Waas and Melanie Khanna (eds), Solving Statelessness, Wolf Legal Publishers, 2016.
    Statelessness Secondary:
    - European Network on Statelessness, Still Stateless, Still Suffering - Why Europe Must Act Not to Protect Stateless Persons, 2014. Available at

Last updated: 16 January 2018

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