UNHCR-awardThe Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Tilburg University on Friday 27 September named the inaugural winners of the UNHCR Award for Statelessness Research. The announcement coincides with the anniversary of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.
In the undergraduate category, the winner is Amanda Cheong, whose thesis "Changing Conceptions of Citizenship Among Stateless Chinese-Bruneian Immigrants in Vancouver," was nominated by the Department of Sociology at the University of British Columbia in Canada.
In the graduate category, the jury named two winners. The first is Eva Mrekajová, whose Master of Laws thesis on the "Naturalization of Stateless Persons" was nominated by the Department of International and European Law at Tilburg University. The second winner is Caroline McInerney, whose independent study paper entitled "Citizenship Laws of Madagascar: Future Challenges for a Developing Nation" was nominated by the University of Virginia School of Law in the United States. No prize in the doctoral category was awarded this year.
Each winner received a cash prize of € 1,000. Their papers will be published in a special edition of the Tilburg Law Review. The winners will also be asked to present their research at the First Global Forum on Statelessness, which will be held in The Hague in September 2014, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the 1954 Statelessness Convention.In addition to these winners, the Jury also made an honourary mention of two researchers' papers: Ms. Sára Heinik’s undergraduate work entitled The Elimination and Reduction of Statelessness in International Law-making and its Effectiveness, submitted to Corvinus University of Budapest (Hungary) as part of an undergraduate programme on International Relations; and Dr. Lindsey Kingston’s doctoral thesis entitled Legal Invisibility: Statelessness and Issue (Non) Emergence, which earned Kingston her PhD in social science from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University (United States) in 2010.
Background to the awardIn early 2013, UNHCR and Tilburg University’s Statelessness Programme invited academic institutions to nominate excellent research at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels in the field of statelessness for the newly established UNHCR Award for Statelessness Research. In this, its inaugural year, a total of 15 nominations were received, spread across the three award categories. The nominations were submitted by academic staff from 13 different universities, across eight countries. The research represented a variety of disciplines, including international law, political theory, sociology, international relations, social science and cultural psychology.
Following a detailed review by a committee within Tilburg Law School, a shortlist of eligible, top-quality research pieces was drawn up and forwarded to the International Expert Jury for their assessment. In accordance with the Award guidelines, the papers and dissertations were judged on the basis of four main criteria:
- Contribution to increasing understanding of the nature and scope of the problem of statelessness, identifying stateless populations and understanding the reasons which have led to statelessness;
- Timeliness and importance of selected topic;
- Quality of research; and
- Quality of writing.
Nomination guidelines for 2014
In early 2014, Tilburg University and UNHCR will put out a new call for nominations of students' work which offers a clear contribution to increasing understanding of the nature and scope of the problem of statelessness, identifying stateless populations and understanding the reasons which have led to statelessness, in particular in regions or within disciplines where little research has been done. This call and the nomination guidelines for 2014 will be announced here and on the website of UNHCR.