Donation to Create Centre on Statelessness
7 June 2017 at 4:57 pm
Philanthropists Peter and Ruth McMullin are to donate what has been described as “one of the most significant gifts in the history of the University of Melbourne Law School” to establish the world’s only academic centre devoted to the problem of statelessness.
The Centre on Statelessness would examine the causes and extent of statelessness around the world, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
University of Melbourne Chancellor Allan Myers said the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness was one of the most “significant and visionary philanthropic initiatives” in the history of the law school.
“It will work with governments, the not-for-profit sector and the United Nations towards the elimination of statelessness and it will work to protect the rights of stateless people,” Myers said.
“The centre will engage in research, teaching and training, supporting public policy and law reform, and raising public awareness and understanding of statelessness.”
He said the centre would begin in 2018 under the leadership of Professor Michelle Foster, a globally respected University of Melbourne scholar in refugee and human rights law.
“A child is born into statelessness every 10 minutes and stateless people are vulnerable to a wide range of legal disabilities in many countries which may limit their right to education, employment, travel and even marriage,” he said.
“The Melbourne Law School is proud to establish a centre that will play a critical role in worldwide efforts to eliminate statelessness and to protect the rights of stateless people.”
The philanthropists announced their donation at a gala dinner to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the Melbourne Law School, where Peter McMullin achieved his law degree.
The undisclosed donation amount was described by the university as being “enough to establish and run the centre for the next 10 years”.
McMullin said he and Ruth congratulated the Melbourne Law School on its “global leadership in establishing the centre”.
“It is our pleasure to support it,” McMullin said.
“In our opinion, policy solutions need to be found to address the mounting issue of statelessness around the world, and we look forward to them being developed through the work of the Centre.
“We all need to contribute where we can to strengthen valuable institutions like the University of Melbourne in the current global environment.”