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Statelessness

Statelessness

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Encyclopedia
Statelessness is a legal concept describing the lack of any nationality. It is the absence of a recognized link between an individual and any state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

.

A de jure
De jure
De jure is an expression that means "concerning law", as contrasted with de facto, which means "concerning fact".De jure = 'Legally', De facto = 'In fact'....

stateless person is someone who is "not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law."

A de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

stateless person is someone who is outside the country of his or her nationality who are unable or, for valid reasons, unwilling to avail him- or herself of the protection of that country. This can be a result of persecution, in which case there is an overlap with the definition of a refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

, but it can also be a consequence of lack of diplomatic relations between the state of nationality and the state of residence.

Some de jure stateless persons are also refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

s although not all refugees are de jure stateless, and not all de jure stateless persons are refugees. Many stateless persons have never crossed an international border.

Stateless person


A stateless person is someone who is “not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law.” In other words, a stateless person has no citizenship or nationality
Nationality
Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity....

. As a matter of international law, citizenship and nationality are congruous, although there may be differences between the two concepts in domestic law.

The causes of statelessness around the world are numerous. In most cases, there is an underlying issue of discrimination – usually on the basis of race or ethnicity, religion, or sex. In many cases, statelessness affects entire minority populations that have never been recognized as nationals of the state where they are habitually resident. Statelessness caused in part or whole by ethnic discrimination is often handed down from one generation to the next.

Conflict of nationality laws can be another cause of statelessness. Nationality is usually acquired through one of two modes: jus soli
Jus soli
Jus soli , also known as birthright citizenship, is a right by which nationality or citizenship can be recognized to any individual born in the territory of the related state...

 or jus sanguinis
Jus sanguinis
Ius sanguinis is a social policy by which citizenship is not determined by place of birth, but by having a parent who are citizens of the nation...

. Jus soli denotes a regime by which nationality is acquired through birth on the territory of the state. This is common in the Americas. Jus sanguinis on the other hand is a regime by which nationality is acquired from birth through descent – usually through a parent who is a national. Today, many states apply a combination of the two system.

Although many states allow for acquisition of nationality through parental descent irrespective of where the child is born, many still do not allow their female citizens to confer nationality to their children. This may result in statelessness where the father is stateless, unknown, or otherwise unable to confer nationality. There have however been recent changes in favor of gender neutrality in nationality laws in some parts of the world. Moreover, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women prohibits sex discrimination in conferral of nationality.

An important measure to avoid statelessness at birth is to provide nationality to children born on the territory who would otherwise be stateless. This norm is stipulated in the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. It also appears in several regional human rights treaties, including the American Convention on Human Rights, the European Convention on Nationality, and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. This norm is implicit in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In some cases, statelessness is a consequence of state succession. Recent history has shown that some people have become stateless when their state of nationality ceased to exist, or when the territory on which they live came under the control of another state. This was the case when the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 disintegrated, and also in the cases of Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

 and Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

.

In rare cases, individuals may become stateless when renouncing their citizenship (e.g. World Citizen Garry Davis
Garry Davis
Garry Davis is a peace activist who created the first World Passport.-Early life:Davis was the son of Meyer and Hilda Davis. He was graduated from the Episcopal Academy in 1940 and attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology...

). However, many states do not allow citizens to renounce their nationality unless they acquire another one. However, consular officials are unlikely to be familiar with all citizenship laws of all countries, so there may still be situations where renunciation leads to statelessness.

A final cause of statelessness are non-state territories. As per the definition of a stateless person, only states can have nationals. As a result, people who are “citizens” of non-state territories are stateless. This includes, for instance, occupied territories where statehood has ceased to exist or never emerged in the first place. The Palestinian Occupied Territories is one example, but also Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

, Northern Cyprus, and Republic of China (Taiwan)
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 may be considered as such, depending on the interpretation of statehood
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 and sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

.

While statelessness has existed for several centuries, the international community has only been concerned with its eradication since the mid-1900s. In 1954 the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 adopted the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, which provides a framework for protection of stateless persons. Seven years later, the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness was adopted, which contains provisions to prevent and reduce statelessness.

In addition, a range of regional and international human rights treaties guarantee a right to nationality, with special protections for certain groups including stateless persons. For examples, states bound by the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are obligated to ensure that every child acquires a nationality. The Convention requires states to implement this provision in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless, and in a manner that is in the best interests of the child. It is always in the best interests of the child to have a nationality.

Not holding proof of nationality – or being “undocumented
Undocumented
Undocumented may refer to:*Undocumented feature*Undocumented immigrant*Undocumented flying object*Undocumented *Undocumented...

” – is not the same as being stateless. However, lack of key identity documents such as a birth certificate can lead to a risk of statelessness. Many millions of people live their entire lives without documents, without their nationality ever being questioned. Two factors are of particular importance: a. is the nationality in question acquired automatically or through some form of registration; and, b. has the person ever been denied documents on the basis that he or she is not a national. If nationality is acquired automatically, then the person is a national regardless of documentation status (although in practice the person may face problems accessing certain rights and services – not because he or she is stateless but because he or she is undocumented). If registration is required then the person is not a national until that has been completed. As a practical matter, the longer a person is undocumented, the greater the likelihood that he or she will end up in a situation where no state recognizes him or her as a national.

As per the definition of a stateless person, whether someone is statelessness is ultimately a matter of the viewpoint of the state with respect to the individual or a group of people. In some cases the state makes its view clear and explicit. In other cases the viewpoint of the states is harder to discern. In those cases one may need to rely on prima facie evidence of the view of the state, which in turn may give rise to a presumption of statelessness.

Prior to World War II


The status of slaves and inhabitants of conquered territories in the Greco-Roman world of antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 is in some ways analogous to contemporary statelessness. In antiquity, "statelessness" could be seen to affect captive and subject populations denied full citizenship (see Roman Citizen) including those enslaved—for instance, conquered populations excluded from Roman citizenship such as the Gauls
Gauls
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

 immediately following the Gallic Wars
Gallic Wars
The Gallic Wars were a series of military campaigns waged by the Roman proconsul Julius Caesar against several Gallic tribes. They lasted from 58 BC to 51 BC. The Gallic Wars culminated in the decisive Battle of Alesia in 52 BC, in which a complete Roman victory resulted in the expansion of the...

, or Israelites under Babylonian captivity
Babylonian captivity
The Babylonian captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon—conventionally 587–538 BCE....

.

Some characteristics of statelessness could be observed amongst apostates
Apostasy in Islam
Apostasy in Islam is commonly defined in Islam as the rejection in word or deed of one's former religion by a person who was previously a follower of Islam...

 and slaves in Islamic society
Islam and Slavery
Islamic views on slavery first developed out of the slavery practices of pre-Islamic Arabia. During the wars between different states/tribes in various parts of the world, prisoners/captives were either killed or enslaved...

, the former being persons shunned for rejecting their religious birth identity, the latter being persons separated from that identity and subsumed into an underclass
Underclass
The term underclass refers to a segment of the population that occupies the lowest possible position in a class hierarchy, below the core body of the working class. The general idea that a class system includes a population under the working class has a long tradition in the social sciences...

 role.

Statelessness used to characterize the existence of Roma People whose traditional nomadic lifestyles meant that they traveled across lands claimed by others.

The Office international Nansen pour les réfugiés
Office international Nansen pour les réfugiés
The Office International Nansen pour les Réfugiés , was an organization of the League of Nations, which was internationally in charge of refugees from war areas from 1930 to 1939. It is noted for developing the Nansen passport which allowed stateless people to travel between countries...

 was an international organization of the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 in charge of refugees from 1930 to 1939. It received the Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 in 1938. Their Nansen passports, designed in 1922 by founder Fridtjof Nansen
Fridtjof Nansen
Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen was a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. In his youth a champion skier and ice skater, he led the team that made the first crossing of the Greenland interior in 1888, and won international fame after reaching a...

, were internationally recognized identity cards
Identity document
An identity document is any document which may be used to verify aspects of a person's personal identity. If issued in the form of a small, mostly standard-sized card, it is usually called an identity card...

 issued to stateless refugees. In 1942 they were honored by governments in 52 countries.

After World War II


The United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 (UN) was set up in 1945, right after the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. From the very start, the UN had to deal with the mass atrocities of the war, not least huge refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

 populations across Europe.

To address the nationality
Nationality
Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity....

 and legal status issues of refugees in Europe, the Economic and Social Council
Economic and Social Council
Economic and Social Council might refer to one of the following:* United Nations Economic and Social Council* French Economic and Social Council* Economic and Social Council * European Economic and Social Committee...

 (ECOSOC) of the UN requested the Secretary-General to carry out a study of statelessness in 1948. The ECOSOC appointed a Committee on Refugees and Stateless Persons to draft a convention that would address the problems faced by refugees and stateless persons, including their legal status. A treaty on refugees was prepared with a draft protocol addressing the status of stateless persons. However, as International Refugee Organization
International Refugee Organization
The International Refugee Organization was founded on April 20, 1946 to deal with the massive refugee problem created by World War II. A Preparatory Commission began operations fourteen months previously. It was a United Nations specialized agency and took over many of the functions of the earlier...

 – the predecessor to the UN High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) – was in the process of being dissolved, the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees is an international convention that defines who is a refugee, and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum. The Convention also sets out which people do not...

 was adopted without inclusion of the Protocol addressing statelessness.

Three years prior to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted. UDHR provides both for a right to asylum (article 14) and a right to nationality (article 15). The UDHR also expressly prohibited arbitrary deprivation of nationality, something which had affected many of the war-time refugees.

In 1949, the International Law Commission
International Law Commission
The International Law Commission was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 for the "promotion of the progressive development of international law and its codification."It holds an annual session at the United Nations Office at Geneva....

 included the topic "Nationality, including statelessness" in its list of topics of international law provisionally selected for codification. At the behest of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 1950, that item was given priority.

The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was done on 28 July 1951, later attracting the signatures of 145 state parties as of late January 2005.

The International Law Commission
International Law Commission
The International Law Commission was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 for the "promotion of the progressive development of international law and its codification."It holds an annual session at the United Nations Office at Geneva....

 at its fifth session in 1953 produced both a Draft Convention on the Elimination of Future Statelessness, and a Draft Convention on the Reduction of Future Statelessness. ECOSOC approved both drafts.

Following these developments in both human rights law and refugee law, the UN eventually adopted in 1954 the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.

The 1954 Statelessness Status Convention provided a definition of a stateless person (which has since become part of customary international law, according to the International Law Commission
International Law Commission
The International Law Commission was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 for the "promotion of the progressive development of international law and its codification."It holds an annual session at the United Nations Office at Geneva....

), and sets out a number of rights that stateless persons should enjoy. The Statelessness Status Convention thus became the basis for an international protection regime for stateless persons.

Seven years later – only one year after the 1954 Convention entered into force – the UN adopted another convention on statelessness, namely the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

Statelessness since 1961


The Statelessness Reduction Convention was adopted in 1961 and entered into force in 1975. It provides a number of standards regarding acquisition and loss of nationality (including automatic loss, renunciation, and deprivation of nationality). It also requests the UN to establish a mandate for the reduction of statelessness.

In 1974, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) requested UNHCR to undertake the functions foreseen under the Statelessness Reduction Convention.

On 13 December 1975, the 1961 Convention entered into force. To date, the number of states parties is relatively low. As of June 2011, only 38 states had ratified the Convention (compared to 66 states parties to the 1954 Statelessness Status Convention).

Starting in 1994, the UNHCR Executive Committee (ExCom) and the UNGA requested UNHCR to broaden its activities concerning statelessness to include all states. In 1996 UNHCR was asked by the UNGA to actively promote accessions to the 1954 and the 1961 conventions, as well as to provide relevant technical and advisory services pertaining to the preparation and implementation of nationality legislation to interested states.

An internal evaluation released in 2001 suggested that UNHCR had done little to exercise its mandate on statelessness. Only two individuals were tasked with overseeing work in that area at UNHCR headquarters, though some field officers had been trained to address the issue. The evaluation also noted that there was no dedicated budget line. Concerned organisations such as the Open Society Justice Initiative and Refugees International have advocated for more human and financial resources to be dedicated to statelessness within UNHCR.

In 2004, ExCom invited UNHCR to pay particular attention to situations of protracted statelessness and explore with states measures that would ameliorate the situations and bring them to an end.

In 2006, ExCom provided UNHCR with more specific guidance on how to implement its mandate on statelessness. The Conclusion on the Identification, Prevention and Reduction of Statelessness and the Protection of Stateless Persons requires UNHCR to work with governments, other UN agencies, and civil society to address this problem. UNHCR’s activities are currently categorized as identification, prevention, reduction, and protection.

UNHCR has achieved some success in launching campaigns to prevent and reduce statelessness among formerly deported peoples in Crimea
Crimea
Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

, Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 (Armenians, Crimean Tatars, Germans, and Greeks who were deported en masse at the close of World War II). Another success has been the naturalization of Tajik refugees in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic is one of the world's six independent Turkic states . Located in Central Asia, landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east...

, as well as the participation in citizenship campaigns enabling 300,000 Estate Tamils to acquire citizenship of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

. UNHCR also assisted the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

 to overcome the large number of stateless persons created when it separated from Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

.

At the beginning of 2006 the UNHCR claimed to have 'on its books' 2.4 million stateless persons, and made an estimate of 11 million as the size of the stateless population worldwide. In 2011, the estimation increased to 12 million. UNHCR figures do not include stateless refugees and stateless Palestinians under UNRWA's mandate.

While the two conventions on statelessness constitute the primary international framework for protection of stateless persons and reduction of statelessness, there are also regional instruments of great importance. The 1997 European Convention on Nationality
European Convention on Nationality
The European Convention on Nationality is a comprehensive convention of the Council of Europe dealing with the law of nationality....

, for example, has contributed to protecting the rights of stateless persons, and provides standards for reduction of statelessness in the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

 region. That document underlines the need of every person to have a nationality, and seeks to clarify the rights and responsibilities of states in ensuring individual access to a nationality.

Statelessness of some magnitude exists in every country of the world. Today, some of the largest populations of stateless persons are found in Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

, Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, Bhutan
Bhutan
Bhutan , officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China...

, Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, Côte d'Ivoire
Côte d'Ivoire
The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire or Ivory Coast is a country in West Africa. It has an area of , and borders the countries Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana; its southern boundary is along the Gulf of Guinea. The country's population was 15,366,672 in 1998 and was estimated to be...

, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

, Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

, Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, Malaysia, Mauritania
Mauritania
Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb and West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, by Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest...

, Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

, Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

.

Palestinians arguably comprise the largest stateless population in the world. Abbas Shiblak estimates that over half of the Palestinian people in the world are stateless.

Bidoon in Kuwait


Bidoon means “without” in Arabic, indicating that this group — estimated to range between 90,000 and 180,000 — lives without nationality. Not considered as nationals by Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

 or any other state, bidoon are stateless. While Kuwaiti nationals enjoy a large number benefits and subsidies, stateless people in this small but very wealthy country live in slum-like settlements on the outskirts of its cities, where they suffer numerous human rights violations.

Many bidoon failed to acquire nationality at independence. Some did not qualify under the law – in other words they were not able to show residential ties to Kuwait prior to 1920. Others—and this was a greater problem at the time—did not quite appreciate the importance of having a nationality and failed to register as citizens.

In the mid-1980s, the situation for bidoon began to rapidly deteriorate. The Nationality Act was amended several times between 1960 and 1985, making access to nationality increasingly difficult. For the first time, in 1986 the government began to apply the Alien Residence Act to bidoon, effectively stripping them of most of the rights they had enjoyed since independence and re-classifying them as “illegal residents.” Basic rights such as issuance of key documents—including birth, marriage and death certificates—were denied, which in turn had a whole range of negative consequences. Pilgrimage to Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

 — the Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

 — also became difficult for bidoon. Most were only allowed to leave Kuwait if they agreed not to return. To this day, religious travel still poses a major problem to many bidoon, and bribes are becoming lucrative opportunities for border officials and travel companies.

By the time of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, bidoon in Kuwait were increasingly living in poverty. They had been dismissed from their jobs in large numbers, their children were no longer allowed to attend public schools, and health care had become more or less inaccessible.

After liberation, bidoon who were still employed in the public sector were dismissed retroactively from the date of the invasion. The number of deportation orders also increased significantly, although many were not carried out since there was no country to which the bidoon could be deported. Most deportation orders were “administrative orders” which meant that no access to judicial review was available.

In year 2000, the situation was briefly looking up for bidoon. Act 22 of 2000 — an amendment to the Nationality Act — in theory provided a greater opportunity for bidoon to naturalize, the conditions were so strict that few qualified. Also, an annual cap on naturalizations was introduced, but Kuwait has rarely if ever used the full quota.

In 2003 allegedly some 5,500 bidoon were permitted to apply for nationality and a smaller number — some 1,600 — were naturalized. But the process stagnated and did not turn into the kind of reform many had hoped for. A few years later, in 2006, the National Assembly created a committee to deal with the bidoon issue, but for the most part it was ineffective. Another government body was set up in 2011 to deal with the issue, but it too has so far only achieved limited progress.

In 2011, the first bidoon demonstrations for nationality rights took place on February 18. Afraid of the protest spiraling out of control the government quickly promised some reforms, including access to a few basic rights for bidoon. On March 11, 2011, bidoon took to the streets again. The government responded with force, advancing with armored vehicles and riot police, employing tear gas and flares to break up crowds. It was reported that 140 bidoon were detained without charge.

Different classes of nationality


Many countries have several different "classes" of nationals under their domestic law. In some cases - though not all - this can lead to statelessness or risk of statelessness.

Cases of statelessness have arisen due to different classes in British nationality law
British nationality law
British nationality law is the law of the United Kingdom that concerns citizenship and other categories of British nationality. The law is complex because of the United Kingdom's former status as an imperial power.-History:...

 which led to situations where people were considered British subjects but not nationals, or where people held a British passport
British passport
British passports may be issued to people holding any of the various forms of British nationality, and are used as evidence of the bearer's nationality and immigration status within the United Kingdom or the issuing state/territory.-Issuing:...

 without right of abode
Right of Abode (United Kingdom)
The right of abode is a status under United Kingdom immigration law that gives an unrestricted right to live in the United Kingdom. It was introduced by the Immigration Act 1971.-British citizens:...

 in the United Kingdom. People who have no other citizenship in any other country, and simultaneously lacked a right to reside in the United Kingdom are possibly stateless . Examples of this include so-called British Protected Person
British protected person
A British protected person is a member of class of certain persons under the British Nationality Act 1981 associated with former protected states, protectorates, mandated and trust territories under British control...

s, who are not considered British nationals. People in Hong Kong who did not acquire nationality in the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 after the turnover in 1997 acquired British National (Overseas)
British National (Overseas)
British National , commonly known as BN, is one of the major classes of British nationality under British nationality law. Holders of this nationality are British nationals and Commonwealth citizens, but not British Citizens...

 status, which is less than full citizenship but probably does not amount to statelessness. British nationals (irrespective of the class of nationality) who reside abroad but do not enjoy protection by the British government are de facto stateless.

Many situations where people were at risk of statelessness due to the different classes of British nationality were resolved after 30 April 2003, when the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002
Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002
The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It received Royal Assent on 7 November 2002....

 came into force. As a result of this Act, the United Kingdom gave most British subjects without any other citizenship the right to register as full British citizens. However, cases still exist where people have not been able or willing to register as citizens.

Children born abroad to Canadian citizens who were born abroad


Bill C-37 came into effect on 17 April 2009, which changed the rules for Canadian citizenship. Individuals can now become Canadian citizens by descent only if one of their parents was either a native-born citizen
Native-born citizen
In general, a native-born citizen of a country is a person who was born within the country's territory and has been legally recognized as a citizen of that country since birth...

 or a foreign-born but naturalized
Naturalization
Naturalization is the acquisition of citizenship and nationality by somebody who was not a citizen of that country at the time of birth....

 citizen of Canada. The new law limits citizenship by descent to one generation born outside Canada. All individuals born outside Canada but within one generation of the native-born or naturalized citizen parent are automatically recognized as Canadian citizens. The second generation born abroad, however, are not citizens of Canada at birth. Such an individual might even be stateless if he or she has no claim to any other citizenship.

Since the passage of Bill C-37, this situation has already occurred at least twice. In one situation, Rachel Chandler was born in China to a father who is a Canadian citizen born in Libya and a mother who is a Chinese citizen. Due to the nationality laws of Canada and China, she was not eligible for citizenship of either country and was born stateless. Rachel Chandler now holds Irish citizenship. This was possible because her paternal grandfather was Irish born. Another situation occurred to Chloé Goldring who was born in Belgium to a Canadian father born in Bermuda and an Algerian mother. Due to the nationality laws of Belgium, Canada and Algeria, she was not eligible for citizenship of any of those countries and was born stateless. Chloé Goldring is now a Canadian citizen.

Palestinians


Even though Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza strip were issued a Palestinian passports according to the Oslo agreement, many countries (for instance Germany) still do not recognize their citizenship.

As a matter of international law, only states can have nationals and the nationality status of many Palestinians therefore depends on whether or not Palestine is a state - some countries recognize Palestinian statehood, others do not.

Palestinians residing in East Jerusalem have automatic permanent resident status in Israel and may apply for citizenship. In 1967, Israel offered to make citizenship automatic, but the offer was rejected by Arab leaders. Between 1967 and 2007, only 12,000 of these 250,000 Palestinians applied for Israeli citizenship.Those who do not are therefore generally stateless.

See also: History of Palestinian Nationality
History of Palestinian nationality
Palestinian people have a history that is often linked to the history of the Arab Nation, which is linked to the rise of Islam. When Islam was started by the prophet Muhammad in Mecca in 610 CE, Christianity was the major religion of Palestine. Soon after the rise of Islam, Palestine was conquered...


Brunei


There is a large number of stateless permanent residents in Brunei
Brunei
Brunei , officially the State of Brunei Darussalam or the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace , is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia...

. Most of these residents have lived on Brunei soil for generations, but Brunei nationality is determined by applying the policy of Jus sanguinis
Jus sanguinis
Ius sanguinis is a social policy by which citizenship is not determined by place of birth, but by having a parent who are citizens of the nation...

; right to hold nationality only by blood ties. However, the Government of Brunei has made obtaining citizenship possible, albeit difficult, for stateless people who have inhabited Brunei for many generations. The requirements to attain Brunei citizenship include passing rigorous tests in Malay culture, customs and language. Stateless permanent residents of Brunei are given International Certificates of Identity, which allow them to travel overseas. The majority of Brunei's Chinese are permanent residents. A holder of an International Certificate of Identity can enter Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 visa-free for a maximum of 90 days within a 180 day period. In the case of Germany, in theory, in order to benefit from the visa exemption, the ICI must be issued under the terms of the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
-Surrounding events:The United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights were approved on 10 December 1948. Of significance, the Declaration at Article 15 affirms that Everyone has the right to a nationality....

 and contain an authorisation to return to Brunei which has a sufficiently long period of validity. However, because Brunei is not a signatory to the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
-Surrounding events:The United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights were approved on 10 December 1948. Of significance, the Declaration at Article 15 affirms that Everyone has the right to a nationality....

, holders of an ICI do not qualify for the visa exemption to Germany. Holders of an ICI can still benefit from the visa exemption to Hungary, since the Hungarian Government does not require the ICI to be issued under the terms of the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
-Surrounding events:The United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights were approved on 10 December 1948. Of significance, the Declaration at Article 15 affirms that Everyone has the right to a nationality....

.

Brunei Darussalam is a signatory to the 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child whereby Principle 3 states that:

"The child shall be entitled from his birth to a name and a nationality."

However, Brunei Darussalam does not currently follow the guidelines of the said 1959 Convention. There is a recent announcement from His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei regarding plans to expedite the granting of citizenship to stateless persons in Brunei. However, it is unclear as to what those plans are or whether or not the citizenship exam is still required.

Juan Mari Brás


In 1994, Juan Mari Brás
Juan Mari Brás
Juan Mari Brás was an advocate for Puerto Rican independence from the United States who founded the Puerto Rican Socialist Party...

, a Puerto Rican
Puerto Rican people
A Puerto Rican is a person who was born in Puerto Rico.Puerto Ricans born and raised in the continental United States are also sometimes referred to as Puerto Ricans, although they were not born in Puerto Rico...

 lawyer and political historian, renounced his US citizenship before a consular agent in the US Embassy of Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

. In December 1995, his denaturalization was confirmed by the US Department of State
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

: Mari Bras was no longer a US citizen. That same month, he requested that the Puerto Rican State Department furnish him with proof of his Puerto Rican citizenship. This request involved more than just a bureaucratic formality, therefore testing the self-determination of Puerto Rico by becoming the first Puerto Rican citizen that was not also an American citizen.

Mari Brás claimed that, as a Puerto Rican national
Nationality
Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity....

 born and raised in Puerto Rico, he was clearly a Puerto Rican citizen and therefore had every right to continue to reside, work and, most importantly, vote in Puerto Rico. The State Department responded promptly, claiming that Puerto Rican citizenship does not exist independent of American citizenship. The State Department's response to Mari Brás stated that Puerto Rican citizenship currently exists only as an equivalent to residency: Puerto Rican citizens are those US citizens who reside in Puerto Rico. The Secretary of State agreed, claiming that after a year of residence on the island, any US citizen can gain Puerto Rican citizenship. On October 25, 2006, he became the first person to receive a Puerto Rican citizenship certificate from the Puerto Rico State Department.

Further reading


External links