The American Journal of International Law (AJIL) has awarded the Francis Deák Prize to Law Professor Neha Jain for her article "Manufacturing statelessness". The annual Francis Deák Prize is awarded to a young authors for meritorious scholarship published in The American Journal of International Law. The prize was established by Philip Cohen in 1973, in memory of Francis Deák, former head of the international law programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The award is sponsored by Oxford University Press and announced in the spring, following the volume year in which the article appeared.
In "Manufacturing Statelessness", Jain focuses on the phenomenon of statelessness, providing both a historic account of the emergence of the international legal framework on this issue and its relationship to that on refugees, as well as highlighting what she describes as modern administrative and other practices by which states purposively manufacture statelessness, including through their manipulation of facially neutral criteria so as to exclude certain groups from citizenship. The committee found this to be a fascinating, nuanced, and detailed account of a contemporary and under-studied problem in international law and practice, combining rigorous and detailed legal analysis with an important empirical account of state practices in this field, as well as an indication of the ways in which an array of actors, including human rights tribunals, have so far responded to the problem, and some suggestions for a future strategy to addressing it.
"The argument is important and powerfully made, and the legal analysis is compelling and clear", commented the awarding committee.
The article uncovers and dissects the different ways in which states manufacture statelessness not through explicitly discriminatory laws and unequal treatment, but through manipulating ostensibly neutral criteria for nationality. It identifies three such criteria that are not traditionally considered "suspect" categories for the grant or denial of nationality: time, territory, and administrative practice. It also suggests doctrinal, policy, and strategic tools for identifying and responding to the types of statelessness that are not a collateral consequence of state failure or incompetence, but the outcome of state intentionality.
"It feels like a surreal journey from the time I picked up my first copy of AJIL as a first year law student in India, when I could not have imagined ever publishing in the journal, let alone receiving one of its highest honours", reacted Jain upon receiving the prize.
Neha Jain is Professor of Public International Law at the EUI Law Department and Co-Director of the Academy of European Law.