Workshop Legal identity under rebel governance

“Legal identity under rebel governance”

Utrecht, the Netherlands, 13 & 14 June 2019
International workshop hosted by University of Melbourne & University of Utrecht
 Funded by the “Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative” (Melbourne) and
the “Utrecht Centre for Global Challenges – UGlobe” (Utrecht)

Legal identity is of pivotal importance in terms of a person’s relationship to the state and a person’s ability to enjoy rights. Non-state armed groups with sovereign aspirations often emulate and mimic state practices, and to varying degrees such efforts comprise the attribution of legal identity to the subjects they aspire to rule. Alternative constructions of legal identity in territory controlled by non-state armed groups raise a wide range of conceptual, empirical, practical and normative questions.

Academic scholarship has only just started to explore these issues, both in social science and from a legal perspective. Humanitarian practitioners, mainly those working in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine, have been increasingly confronted by the question of legal identity, when they work with communities who are living under the control of armed non-state actors. They have had to figure out how best to provide assistance to individuals suffering problems of contested or unclear ID documentation and address the associated risk of statelessness. This workshop serves to bring these perspectives (diverse academic disciplines, diverse applied expertise) together in order to deepen our understanding of the issues at stake and identify fruitful channels for future engagement with these issues.

The event will take place on Thursday 13 June (afternoon) and Friday 14 June (morning) in Utrecht. The programme comprises of a sequence of presentations, drawing on research and experience in a broad variety of contexts, including (aspirant states within) Iraq, Lebanon, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Syria, and Ukraine. The programme and the working paper underpinning the workshop are available on request. An online discussion platform is available for workshop participants.

If you are interested to join us in Utrecht and contribute to the discussion, please contact one of the organisers: Katharine Fortin (, Bart Klem ( and Marika Sosnowski (


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