News and events Tilburg University

Stateless people are denied essential rights

Published: 03rd September 2014 Last updated: 30th April 2019

Stateless people are more vulnerable to human trafficking. Stateless people should be granted the nationality of the country they have made their home. These are some of the findings Tilburg University researchers will present at the First Global Forum on Statelessness on 15-17 September in The Hague, the Netherlands. The Forum has been organized by Tilburg University and UNHCR. Sixty years after the adoption of the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, at least 10 million people are stateless worldwide.

Press Release 03 September 2014

At the Global Forum experts from universities, governments and NGO’s worldwide will discuss problems and solutions regarding statelessness. Stateless people do not have a nationality. They are denied human rights that are self-evident for most of us. This results in lifelong difficulties, from the right to education, a job, and marriage to receiving health care. In most cases the problem of statelessness can be solved relatively easily by a change of law.

Contributions to the Global Forum by Tilburg University include those of dr. Conny Rijken and dr. Laura van Waas, who researched statelessness and human trafficking in Thailand, and of Prof. Ernst Hirsch Ballin (also a former Justice minister). Rijken en Van Waas discovered that stateless people in Thailand are more vulnerable to human trafficking because of lower education levels, poverty and a greater reluctance to go to the police for help. Van Waas is manager of the Statelessness Program, an international center of expertise at Tilburg University.

Prof. Hirsch Ballin will address the role of civil rights in a world that is increasingly characterized by migration. He will make a case for granting civil rights to migrants who have settled down in their new country including stateless people. Hirsch Ballin: “Without the right to reside in a country safely and participate in political decision-making, the protection of universal human rights will continue to be deficient.”

(Former) stateless people at the Forum

Stateless as well as former stateless people will play a role at the Global Forum in two roundtables discussions led by writer and critic Adrian Gill and UNHCR–ambassador and singer Barbara Hendricks. Other keynote speakers include Volker Türk, UNHCR Director of International Protection, and Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner Human Rights of the Council of Europe. For the full Global Forum program see

The Global Forum will be framed by an exhibition of photos by Greg Constantine, who has spent years meeting and photographing stateless people around the world for years. He also met with stateless people in the Netherlands. For more information about his work see

Preporatory press meeting
A comprehensive update on statelessness is accessible for the press on Wednesday September 10th, 8 PM in the Humanity House in The Hague. During this evening Greg Constantine will present his work. A stateless person from Myanmar will relate his experiences, and René Bruin, Head of Office UNHCR the Netherlands, will give a short lecture. Prior to the meeting at 7.30 PM dr. Laura van Waas of Tilburg University will give an introduction with facts and figures on statelessness and there will be time for questions.

You can register for the press meeting at UNHCR- the Netherlands, Femke Joordens,

For interview requests, please contact Corine Schouten of Tilburg University, tel. + 31 13 466 2993, email