The Responsibility to Prevent: Statelessness, Forced Migration and Human Trafficking

Dr. Tanya Herring

This paper has a three-prong research aim. First, the study responds to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Executive Committee’s call to civil society and academia to research the large and troubling holes in the collective knowledge of the global forced migration and related statelessness phenomena. Secondly, this research investigates the nexus between forced migration, statelessness, human trafficking, and examines the obligations of state actions under the preventive pillar of the responsibility to prevent (R2Prev) norm, and the legal effects of sources of international law with a focus on stateless Rohingya children as a critical case study. Thirdly, the study further examines if the UN concept of ‘legal empowerment’ can serve as an intervention mechanism when one group has multiple protection needs, and the state fails to protect and prevent. The premise suggests that a stateless child’s probability for exploitation is ostensibly higher than a non-stateless child. Background: Since 1948, historical records indicate that the Rohingya have been one of the most persecuted exiled populations in the world. In 2017, the vulnerability of stateless Rohingya children has been heightened through epic suffering images broadcast by international media as a result of multiple forced migration situations. Aside from sporadic aide, global interventions have been and continue to be minimal. This study responds to the international inquiry of responsibility and accountability.