Michal Caster is a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University where he focuses on human security, human rights law, and transitional justice. He is particularly interested in minority rights and the protection of human rights defenders. His other research interests include gender, accountability for gross human rights violations, and civil resistance. He holds a Master’s in Conflict Studies and Human Rights from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Michael has worked extensively on human rights and civil society issues in China, as well as Thailand and Myanmar. He has also done field research in Turkey and Tunisia.
“Interrogating Statelessness in ASEAN: A Child-Rights Based Approach”
The issue of statelessness has re-emerged in international affairs. It is an exigent crisis at the nexus of politics, law, and security. The UNHCR has proposed to end statelessness by 2024. As host to some of the largest populations of stateless people, how ASEAN addresses its statelessness problem will be key to achieving the UN’s objective. It will require a robust multidisciplinary approach of enhanced legal frameworks and political will.
For that reason, this paper begins by looking at the evolution of scholarship on statelessness. Supported by case studies drawn from field research in Thailand and Myanmar, the paper analyzes current ASEAN law and policy on statelessness contrasted to international best practices. While few ASEAN member countries are Parties to the statelessness or refugee conventions, they are all Parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Considering that, according to the UNHCR, a stateless child is born somewhere in the world every ten minutes, despite articles 7 and 8 of the Convention guaranteeing the right to nationality and the protection against statelessness, the apparent legal and political will regarding the Convention encourages a focus on the child. Therefore, the paper concludes by proposing a child rights based approach to statelessness in ASEAN.