The Institute has its main office in the Netherlands but also has a staff member based in the UK. The day-to-day operations of the Institute are led by our two Co-Directors and decision-making is carried out by our Executive Board. The Institute is Governed by an international Board of Trustees and supported by an inter-disciplinary Advisory Council.


Postal address: Gestelsestraat 134, 5615 LJ Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Our staff

Amal is one of the Institute’s Co-Directors and is based in the United Kingdom. He leads the Institute’s human rights engagement work. He also plays an important part in the Institute’s work on childhood statelessness, gender discrimination and the Sustainable Development Agenda, and on the Institute’s engagement with civil society and the arts.

Amal has researched, advocated, written, spoken, delivered training and served as an expert on statelessness and related issues for the UN, NGOs and academia, since 2008. He is particularly interested in the nexus between statelessness and discrimination and its implications on access to other rights. Before co-founding the Institute, Amal provided the lead on the Equal Rights Trust’s statelessness work. He was also one of the co-founders of the European Network on Statelessness, and is a founding member of Stages – a Sri Lankan theatre group. A human rights lawyer and member of the Sri Lankan Bar, Amal holds an LLM (Distinction) from University College London and an LLB (Hons.) from the University of Colombo.

Laura is one of the Institute’s Co-Directors and is based in the Netherlands. She leads the Institute’s capacity building and academic engagement work. Laura also plays an important part in the Institute’s work on childhood statelessness and on the nexus between statelessness and forced displacement.

Alongside her role as Co-Director of the Institute, Laura is also a part-time Assistant Professor at the Department of European and International Law at Tilburg Law School. She teaches an undergraduate course on ‘Nationality, Statelessness and Human Rights’ for Tilburg students every spring semester and supervises Bachelors, Masters and PhD research.

Laura has worked on the issue of statelessness since 2004 and holds a PhD in international law, with a focus on statelessness, from Tilburg University (manuscript ‘Nationality Matters’, published with Intersentia, 2008). Prior to co-founding the Institute in 2014, Laura principally worked on statelessness within academia. She has supervised or conducted studies on statelessness for, among others, Plan International, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Open Society Foundations, the Women’s Refugee Commission, the United States Department of State, the European Parliament and the Norwegian Refugee Council. From 2009-2011, Laura was engaged as a full-time consultant by UNHCR, delivering a series of projects for its Headquarters in Geneva, the Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa in Beirut and the Regional Office for South East Asia in Bangkok.

Zahra is a Senior Researcher at the Institute. She specialises on the nexus between statelessness and forced displacement, and the interlink between discrimination and statelessness, including work on gender inequality in nationality law. Geographically, her work has focused mainly on statelessness and nationality in the Middle East and Africa region.

Alongside her work at the Institute, Zahra is enrolled as a PhD researcher at Tilburg Law School. She is also a Board member of the Syrian Legal Development Programme.

Zahra has been working on the issue of statelessness since 2010, and has been involved in conducting studies on statelessness for UNHCR, WRC, IRC, NRC the Open Society Justice Initiative and Amel House of Human Rights. She holds an LLM in International Law from Leeds University, and enjoys teaching and training on the issue of statelessness.

Mark is the Institute’s Head of Finance and Programmes and is based in the Netherlands. He is responsible for the Institute’s financial and operational processes for all Institutional and Programmatic activities.

Mark has been involved with the Institute since its founding in 2014 and holds a Bachelor in Business Administration for Hogeschool Novi. Prior to his involvement with the Institute in 2014, Mark worked for a variety of for-profit organisations in a management and/or business advisory capacity with a focus on employee benefits and payroll accountancy. Throughout his career Mark has been involved with not-for-profit NGO’s as a volunteer consultant.

Ileen Verbeek works as programme officer at the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, supporting research into a variety of topics, including on the relationship between discrimination and statelessness among Roma, the arbitrary detention of stateless persons in Europe, and the role of statelessness within international frameworks such as the Universal Periodic Review and the Sustainable Development Agenda. She is also involved in capacity building, e.g. through trainings and teaching on the topics of statelessness and nationality, as well as the Institute’s communications work and fundraising.

Ileen has a background in social sciences, with a BSc in Social Psychology and a MSc in Victimology and Criminal Justice, before turning her attention towards an understanding of what legal tools for empowerment there exist in the form of an LLM on International Human Rights Law, all from Tilburg University, the Netherlands. The interest in human rights was ignited while studying legal psychology abroad, at Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain. Ileen’s thesis for the LLM focused on children that are born into families that do not fit the traditional image and these children’s right to acquire a nationality, a topic that continues to have her interest.

Sangita Jaghai is a researcher at the Institute and a PhD candidate at Tilburg University. Her work mainly focuses on coordinating the Institute’s human rights engagement activities and arbitrary deprivation of nationality. She assisted in research on childhood statelessness and represented the Institute as a member of the organizing committee of the Statelessness Network Asia Pacific. Sangita’s PhD research also focuses on deprivation of nationality and she is one of the “Faces of Science” appointed by The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Sangita has an LLM in International Human Rights Law from Tilburg University. Her master's thesis looked at the nexus between statelessness and migration in South East Asia - inspired by her time as an intern with UNHCR's regional office in Bangkok, Thailand, where she was also focusing on statelessness issues. Her thesis received honorary mention at the 2015 Max van der Stoel Human Rights Awards.

Kristy supports the Institute in its educational outreach and programming activities (both academic and non-academic) and in its human rights advocacy. She has been researching and publishing on statelessness since 2004 and is an expert on statelessness in the Caribbean region, especially as it relates to ethnic and racial minorities. Her book, Statelessness in the Caribbean: The Paradox of Belonging in a Postnational World, was recently published with Penn Press (2017).

Kristy holds a PhD in Political Science, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Human Rights, from the University of Connecticut. She has been actively engaged with human rights advocacy for over a decade, interning with the International Service for Human Rights and taking part in UNHCR’s Cartagena +30 consultative process as a Caribbean civil society participant, among other activities. Her doctoral research, based upon fieldwork among communities of Haitian migrants in The Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, earned her UNHCR’s Award for Best Doctoral Research on Statelessness in 2015.

Previously, Kristy was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Dayton’s Human Rights Center where she incorporated the stateless, and other noncitizens, into her human rights curriculum. She currently serves as the Director of Professional Development for the International Studies Association.

Maria Jose Recalde Vela is a Volunteer with the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion for the period of January – July 2017. She is assisting with a variety of research tasks in support of the Institute’s work and is also a co-managing editor of the Institute's Statelessness Working Paper Series.

Maria Jose Recalde Vela is a PhD candidate at Tilburg Law School where her research focuses on nationality issues. She holds an LL.M in international and European Law, a M.Sc. in Victimology and Criminal Justice and an LL.M in Legal Research, all from Tilburg University. She is also the 2014 winner of the UNHCR Award for Statelessness Research in the undergraduate category.

Previous Fellows

Deirdre Brennan (ISI Fellow in 2017) holds a Masters in Women’s Studies in Culture and Politics from Utrecht University and has been researching statelessness since 2012, focusing largely on the gendered nature of the issue. She has previously worked on the intersections of gender, statelessness and human trafficking in Thailand, and researched gender discriminatory nationality laws in Nepal and Indonesia with the Institute. Under her 2017 fellowship, Deirdre engaged in our work on gender discrimination in nationality laws, including through the development of resources in collaboration with the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights. She also played an important part in one of the Institute’s projects on the issue of childhood statelessness, helping to design and develop a resource on nationality and statelessness for children.

Peggy Brett (ISI Fellow in 2016) has an LL.M in International Human Rights Law from the National University of Ireland, Galway. As a consultant for UNHCR she researched how the UN Human Rights Council and human rights treaty bodies have addressed statelessness. Previously she had worked on promoting and facilitating civil society engagement with the UN Human Rights Committee and the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Under her Fellowship, Peggy worked on various elements of the Institute’s Human Rights Engagement Programme, including through drafting country submissions to treaty bodies and the Universal Periodic Review and developing resources for civil society.

Juliana Vengoechea Barrios (ISI visiting Fellow in 2016) was an Aryeh Neier Fellow (2014-2016) with the Open Society Justice Initiative, supporting litigation and other projects within the Equality and Inclusion. During the second year of that fellowship, she collaborated part-time as a visiting Fellow with the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, on projects related to the right to nationality of children, UN mechanisms advocacy and furthering the Institute’s academic engagement. Prior to joining the Justice Initiative, Juliana was an assistant professor and the director of the Center for Studies in International Law “Francisco Suárez, S.J.” at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. Juliana has also worked as a human rights and international humanitarian law advisor for the vice presidency of Colombia, as a fellow at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Washington and as a legal fellow of the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan.