Statelessness

FMR 32
April 2009

A stateless person is someone who is not recognised as a national by any state. They therefore have no nationality or citizenship and are unprotected by national legislation, leaving them vulnerable in ways that most of us never have to consider. This latest issue of FMR includes 22 articles by academic, international and local actors debating the challenges faced by stateless people and the search for appropriate responses and solutions.

The issue also includes 17 articles on other aspects of forced migration, among which are a mini-feature (comprising four articles) on refugee status determination and articles on European migration policies, Colombia, Ecuador, disaster IDPs, Europe-Africa cooperation, trafficking in Iran, cash grants for refugees and reproductive health care in emergencies.

Contents

Indira Goris, Julia Harrington and Sebastian Köhn

Since the Second World War, a right to nationality – though difficult to define and rarely enforced – has emerged under international law.

Mark Manly and Santhosh Persaud

UNHCR and other actors have stepped up efforts to address statelessness. However, the global impact of statelessness is not yet sufficiently understood and far more needs to be done.

by Chris Lewa

Many minorities, including the Rohingya of Burma, are persecuted by being rendered stateless.

Katherine Southwick

There is a need to strengthen international law on nationality rights and avoidance of statelessness in the context of state succession and international conflict.

Ekuru Aukot

As a pastoralist from Turkana, who am I and where are my nationality and citizenship?

Adam Hussein Adam

There is no official recognition of the Nubian community in Kenya and they face considerable discrimination as a result.

Simon Heap and Claire Cody

Birth registration is a critical first step in ensuring a child’s rights throughout life.

Bridget Wooding

Many decades of unregulated migration of Haitians who have come to live and work in the Dominican Republic have resulted in a significant population whose status is uncertain and who are vulnerable to widespread discrimination and abuses of human rights.

Brad Blitz

Although statelessness has never attracted the same level of interest as other areas that are central to international human rights jurisprudence, it is now part of official policy discourse at the UN.

Paul White

Despite a recent large-scale government campaign to encourage applications for citizenship certificates in Nepal, many factors still impede take-up, in particular among certain sections of Nepalese society such as women, IDPs and indigenous communities.

Khalid Hussain

Approximately 160,000 stateless Biharis live in 116 makeshift settlements in Bangladesh. Despite recent developments in voter and ID registration, however, they continue to live in slum-like conditions, facing regular discrimination.

Maureen Lynch and Melanie Teff

Statelessness – the non-acquisition of citizenship – can blight a child’s prospects throughout life.

Chie Komai and Fumie Azukizawa

The difficulties faced by stateless persons from Thailand in Japan show only too clearly that the international legal framework for their protection is inadequate.

Nicole Green and Todd Pierce

The US government believes that the prevention of statelessness and the protection of those who are stateless should be priorities for all governments. 

Oded Feller

Only in the past few years has Israel acknowledged that there exists a problem of stateless persons living in Israel; however, this has not prompted the state to recognise the distress of stateless people or to develop appropriate solutions.

Abbas Shiblak

It is difficult to give precise figures of the number of stateless persons in the Arab region. Most countries in the region do not publish figures on the number of stateless communities in their midst. However, it is widely recognised that the number of stateless people in the Arab region is one of the highest in the world.

Katherine Perks and Jarlath Clifford

Of the broad range of human rights violations suffered by stateless people, that of  the right to be free from arbitrary detention has received little attention. The extent and scale of the problem are not fully known.

Jose-Maria Arraiza and Linda Öhman

The lack of secure property rights heightens the risk of statelessness for displaced Kosovo Roma in Montenegro.

Joanne van Selm

Many Roma have faced discrimination and prejudice from both private groups and national governments.

Gábor Gyulai

In addition to the efforts to prevent and reduce statelessness, states should also establish an identification and protection mechanism for stateless persons.

Matthew J Gibney

The key claim that animates most discussions of statelessness is the principle that everyone should have the right to citizenship somewhere.

General articles

Richard Stainsby

Determination of refugee status is a critical first step in meeting the protection needs of those requiring international protection and is one of UNHCR’s core functions.

Martin Jones

Refugee Status Determination (RSD), which is vital to the protection of so many asylum seekers worldwide, is at best an imperfect, haphazard and challenging process. It merits greater attention and appropriate reform.

Michael S Gallagher

Lack of access to legal counsel and lengthy delays in procedures continue to undermine Refugee Status Determination procedures in southern Africa.

Rachel Levitan

The provision of independent legal representation for asylum seekers in Turkey is proving a vital component in improving Refugee Status Determination procedures.

Roberta Cohen

Climate change is expected to sharply increase the number and severity of natural disasters, displacing millions on all continents. The international community needs to recognise ‘disaster IDPs’ – and establish new institutional arrangements to protect their human rights.

Marie-Helene Verney

A recent needs assessment has allowed UNHCR to identify and start to meet significant protection and assistance needs among Colombian refugees in Ecuador.

Louis Michel

The EU is working with the Malian government to improve information provision about migration to Europe.

Alexandra Strang

The Council of Europe estimated in late 2007 that there are as many as 5.5 million irregular migrants residing in the EU. From both a human rights and a good governance perspective, this situation is crying out for change.

Jean-Pierre Cassarino

The role of the state in protecting its citizens and in defending their rights and privileges has become closely intertwined with its capacity to secure its borders and regulate migration flows.

Nasim Sadat Hosseini-Divkolaye

Each year, thousands of people are moved illegally – often in dangerous or inhumane conditions – into, through and from Iran.

Maaike van Min

The provision of comprehensive reproductive health supplies and services in all situations would help prevent many unnecessary deaths of women and babies.

Vicky Tennant and Franziska Troeger

Can cash grants support the voluntary repatriation and reintegration of refugees?

Elizabeth Ferris

The advances in laws related to IDPs have not addressed the relationship between internal displacement and peacebuilding in Colombia.

Jacob Rothing and Richard Skretteberg

While the number of new IDPs in Colombia is expected to reach record levels, prevention policies are failing and reparation initiatives have been blocked.

Katinka Ridderbos

Several hundred thousand people of foreign ancestry who used to work on white-owned commercial farms in Zimbabwe are stateless, jobless and either displaced or at risk of displacement.

The experience of refugees in Oru refugee camp, Nigeria

A reader of FMR, Kehinde Okanlawon, in Ile Ife, Nigeria, recently shared his experience with FMR Editors:

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