Statelessness is the
legaland social concept of a person lacking belonging (or a legally enforceable claim) to any recognised state. Statelessness is not always the same as lack of citizenship. De jure statelessness is where there exists no recognised statein respect of which the subject has a legally meritorious basis to claim nationality.
De facto statelessness is where the subject may have a legally meritorious claim but is precluded from asserting it because of practical considerations such as cost, circumstances of civil disorder, or the fear of persecution.
girls, 1917. Statelessness characterises the existence of nomadic Gypsies]
Problems of statelessness
Common ways people may become stateless and which are addressed by the
1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessnessare:
*Renunciation of nationality
*Deprivation of nationality (e.g. for disloyalty, for
treason, for obtaining nationality by fraud, or as a consequence of marriage or divorce)
*Membership of a group which is denied citizen status in the country on whose territory they are born (e.g. Gypsy and
Jewsin Third Reich Germany [1935-1945] ) - see Nuremberg Laws)
*Birth in disputed territories
*Birth in an area ruled by an entity whose independence is not internationally recognized (e.g.
*Birth on territory over which no modern state claims sovereignty (e.g. the unclaimed region of
*By excessive fees and burdensome administrative and evidential requirements involved in claiming
conflict of lawsbetween two states (e.g. between the laws of the mother's nationality and those of the father's both working to deny either nationality by descent to the child)
*Transfer of territory or
sovereigntywhich alters nationalitystatus of persons in the territories so transferred Statelessness creates problems for states and disadvantages for those left stateless, such as:
civil rightsin comparison to the nationals of the states where they reside. This may be so despite the uplifting content and humanitarian purposes of the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. Stateless persons lacking identity documents may be treated as though they "do not exist" for administrative purposes by the various organs of the state.
*A perception that stateless persons lack loyalty and commitment to their country of residence
*Lack of the ability to endow their children and close family member with a
*Inability, except through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to avail themselves of consular services when outside their country of usual residence
*No 'home' country to which they are guaranteed the unquestioned right of return
*For states, statelessness frustrates
deportationaction, as there is no recipient country obliged to accept the stateless person so subjected
Some advantages of statelessness:
* The stateless person may avoid obligations of
citizenship, such as civil or military conscription, compulsion to vote, and compulsion to render juryservice. It is worth noting that many nations retain the right to conscript permanent residents, regardless of their nationality or lack thereof. Taxes also may still be assessed.
* The status of stateless persons at least outranks that of an
enemy alienin time of war
tatelessness and refugees
Statelessness most commonly affects
refugees although not all refugees are stateless, and not all stateless persons may be able to qualify as refugees. Refugee status entails the extra requirements that the refugee is outside their country of nationality(or country of habitual residence if stateless), and is deserving of asylum based upon a well-founded fear of persecution for categorized reasons which make him/her unwilling or unable to avail the protection of that country.
tatelessness and children
Principle 3 of the 1959
Declaration of the Rights of the Childasserts that:
"The child shall be entitled from his birth to a name and a
nationality." Statesbound by the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Childare obligated to implement policies and programs to ensure that children's families and national authorities can secure citizenshipfor every child in the country.
In practice, when a child’s birth is not registered that child’s existence may not be acknowledged and the child "may" be denied citizenship. Some governing bodies refuse to recognize births — and therefore the existence and the nationality of some children - because of race,
ethnicity, or questions of "legitimacy."
Characteristics of statelessness affect
Amerasianchildren and young adults in Southeast Asia. They are commonly fathered abroad by US servicemen and mothers of Asian nationalities.
tatelessness and women
An attempt to reduce discrimination against women is made in the 1957
Convention on the Nationality of Married Womenwith its provisions to prevent the automatic acquisition of the husband's citizenship. It also intends to prevent women losing citizenshipand becoming statelessif they marry a stateless man. [ [http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/w1cnmw.html Full Text of Convention on the Nationality of Married Women] ]
tatelessness prior to World War II
Statelessness characterised the status of
slavesand inhabitants of conquered territories in the Greco-Romanworld of antiquity. In antiquity, statelessness could be seen to affect captive and subject populations denied full citizenship (see Roman Citizen) including those enslaved e.g. conquered populations excluded from Roman citizenship such as the Gaulsimmediately following the Gallic Wars; Israelitesunder Babylonian captivity.
Characteristics of statelessness are seen amongst apostates and slaves in Islamic society; the former being persons shunned by or rejecting their tribal/national/ethno-religious birth identity, the latter being persons separated from that identity and subsumed into an
underclassrole. Statelessness has perennially characterised the existence of Roma Peopleby virtue of their nomadic lifestyles over centuries of traversing lands claimed by others.
The Office International Nansen pour les Réfugiés, was an organization of the
League of Nations, which was internationally in charge of refugeesfrom war areas from 1930 to 1939. It received the Nobel Peace Prizein 1938. Their Nansen passports, designed in 1922 by founder Fridtjof Nansen, were internationally recognized identity cards first issued by the League of Nationsto stateless refugees. In 1942 they were honored by governments in 52 countries and were the first refugee travel documents.
UN Action addressing the problem of statelessness
The initial focus of UN Action was the sponsorship of Conventions in 1954 (the 'Status Convention') and 1961 (the 'Reduction Convention') resulting in instruments of
international law. Continuing action through the UNHCRencourages member states to take up ratification and address statelessness within their own borders by programs of naturalisation and co-operation with neighbouring states. UNHCRalso conducts public education campaigns to highlight the plight of stateless communities in special need.
Outside of the UN, regional initiatives to address statelessness and its associated problems can be seen in
multilateral treatyinstruments such as the Council of EuropeConvention on Reduction of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession.
ECOSOC, The ILC, The 1951 Refugee Convention
Migrations forced by political instability during
World War IIand its immediate aftermath highlighted the international dimension of the problems presented by unprecedented volumes of displaced persons including those rendered effectively stateless.
Dating from December 1948 and with the imprimatur of the world communit acting through the
United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rightsat Article 15 affirms that
#Everyone has the right to a nationality.
#No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
In 1949, the
International Law Commissionincluded 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 partiesAs of late January 2005. [ [http://www.unhcr.org.uk/press/press_releases2005/pr25Jan05.htm UNHCR in the UK - News and press ] ]
International Law Commissionat 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. ECOSOCapproved both drafts.
A Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons was signed in September 1954. [http://www.unhcr.org/protect/PROTECTION/3bbb25729.pdf] It was complemented by the '
Statelessness Reduction Convention' seven years afterwards.
The 1954 Status Convention provided for the
UNHCRto issue travel documents to stateless persons. It urged for stateless persons to be treated at least as fairly as aliens and in some cases to be treated the same as nationalsby Contracting States (e.g. in their access to the courts, their rights to movable property, their rights to intellectual property). It also acknowledged the problem of stateless seamen by urging that states should confer their citizenshipon such people according to the flags of the vessels to which they are attached. Albert Einsteinwas a stateless person in the period 1896-1901. In 1933 he was affected by German race laws standing him down from his professorship. He renounced his German citizenship, became a refugee, and was granted asylum in the USA. From 1940 until his death he enjoyed dual citizenshipof Switzerlandand the USA.
The 1961 Statelessness Reduction Convention was a significant aspirational achievement in working to eliminate the problem of statelessness, or at least the problems associated with it. The Reduction Convention is binding on those states that have ratified or acceded to it and it also works to create norms and to codify and confirm principles of
customary international lawas they relate to nationality lawexisting at the time of its formation. Among these would be:
* States have absolute
sovereigntyto confer their nationalityon any person for any reason
* Otherwise stateless persons may avail birthright citizenship of the place of their birth (or of the place where they were found, in the case of a
foundling), otherwise they may take the nationality of one of their parents or that of another Contracting State in which they have resided for a qualifying period
* An otherwise stateless person born in wedlock shall have the right to take the nationality of their mother
* A stateless person has some time beyond attaining adulthood to seek to claim the benefit of the Convention. That time is always at least three years from the age of eighteen.
* The benefit of the Convention may be claimed by guardians on behalf of their wards.
* States may impose a period of residence qualification for granting nationality to persons who may be otherwise
stateless. That period is a maximum five years immediately prior to application and maximum of ten years overall.
* Disloyal or serious
criminalconduct my limit an individual's ability to avail the benefit of the Convention
* Birth on a sea vessel or aircraft presumptively attacts the nationality of the flag of that vessel or craft for an otherwise stateless person
* Overtaking of territory by states presumptively confers the nationality of the overtaking state on the inhabitants of the territory. States must work together in treaty relations to eliminate the possibility of statelessness occurring by the
cessionof territories to each other.
tatelessness since 1961
1961 marks the year from which the
UNproposed to exercise a mandate over stateless persons beyond the production of travel documents upon request for them.
In 1974, the
UN General Assemblyrequested the UNHCRto undertake the functions foreseen under the Reduction Convention.
On 13 December 1975, the 1961 Convention entered into force. There is a poor level of uptake, with only 35 state
ratifications or accessions in the period to February 2007. In 1995, the UNHCR Executive Committee(ExCom) and the United Nations General Assembly(UNGA) requested UNHCRto broaden its activities concerning statelessness to include "all" states. The office was also asked to gather and share information on the problem of statelessness globally, to train staff and government officials, and to regularly report back to the ExCom.
UNHCRwas asked by the UNGA to actively promote accessionto the 1954 and the 1961 Conventions, as well as to provide relevant technical and advisory services pertaining to the preparation and implementation of nationalitylegislation to interested states.
Regional instruments, such as the
1997 European Convention on Nationality, have also contributed to protecting the rights of stateless persons. 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.
UNHCRhas achieved some success in launching campaigns to prevent and reduce statelessness among formerly deported peoples in Crimea, Ukraine( Armenians, Crimean Tatars, Germans, and Greekswho were deported en masse at the close of World War II). [http://www.unhcr.org/research/RESEARCH/405ab4c74.pdf] Another success has been the naturalizationof Tajik refugeesin Kyrgyzstan, as well as the participation in citizenshipcampaigns enabling 300,000 Estate Tamils to acquire citizenshipof Sri Lanka. The UNHCRalso assisted the Czech Republicto overcome the large number of stateless persons created when it separated from Slovakia.
An internal evaluation released in 2001 suggested that
UNHCRhad done little to exercise its mandate on statelessness. Only two individuals were tasked with overseeing work in that area at UNHCRheadquarters, though field officers had been trained to address the issue. There was no dedicated budget line. Concerned organisations such as Refugees International have advocated for the appointment of a permanent UN Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Statelessness [ [http://www.refugeesinternational.org/section/publications/stateless_conc/ Refugees International: Publications: Stateless Report ] ]
In 2004, ExCom invited
UNHCRto pay particular attention to situations of protracted statelessness and explore with statesmeasures that would ameliorate the situations and bring them to an end.
At the beginning of 2006 the
UNHCRclaimed 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. [ [http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/basics/opendoc.htm?tbl=BASICS&id=3b028097c UNHCR - Refugees by Numbers 2006 edition ] ]
The greatest populations (over 100,000) of stateless persons are seen to be in the
Dominican Republic, Ivory Coast, Congo, Syria, Iraq, Latviaand Estonia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Cambodiaand Malaysia. Statelessness is adjudged to be least significant in North America, Oceania, North Africa, Southern Africa, most of South America, and China. [ [http://www.unhcr.org/publ/PUBL/4538c8074.pdf UNCHR, Stateless Persons and Populations at Risk of Statelessness] ]
Palestinians comprise the largest stateless population in the world.cite web|title=Stateless Limbo|author=Susan Akram|publisher=
Al-AhramWeekly|date=|accessdate=21 - 27 August 2003|accessdate=2007-09-15|url=http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2003/652/re5.htm] Abbas Shiblak Shiblak estimates that over half of the Palestinian people in the world are stateless.cite journal|title=Reflections on the Palestinian Diaspora in Europe|author=Abbas Shiblak|journal="The Palestinian Diaspora in Europe: Challenges of Dual Identity and Adaptation"|publisher=Institute of Jerusalem Studies|isbn=9950315042|year=2005|url=http://www.rsc.ox.ac.uk/PDFs/Shiblak.pdf]
Famous stateless individuals
John Demjanjuk, accused of being a guard at an extermination campduring World War II.
Mehran Karimi Nasseri, inspiration for " The Terminal".
1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness
Office international Nansen pour les réfugiés
Refugeesand Refugee Law
* [http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/conventions/6_1_1961.pdf Full Convention text of 1961 Convention]
* [http://www.unhcr.org/protect/PROTECTION/41b4790b4.pdf Map showing State Parties to 1961 Convention]
* [http://www.unhcr.org/protect/PROTECTION/45178f542.pdf Council of Europe Convention on Reduction of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession]
* [http://www.unhcr.org/publ/PUBL/4538c8074.pdf] UNHCR Map (21 August 2006) Stateless Persons and Populations at Risk of Statelessness
* [http://www.refugeesinternational.org/section/publications/stateless_review/ Refugees International 'Global Review of Statelessness']
* [http://www.fmreview.org/FMRpdfs/FMR26/FMR2603.pdf Stateless Palestinans]
* [http://www.state.gov/g/prm/rls/45288.htm Report describing US contributions to the resettlement of stateless populations in FY2004 and FY2005]
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Look at other dictionaries:
statelessness — stateless ► ADJECTIVE ▪ not recognized as a citizen of any country. DERIVATIVES statelessness noun … English terms dictionary
statelessness — noun ( es) : the quality or state of being stateless : the condition of being without citizenship in any country methods by which statelessness may be eliminated advt … Useful english dictionary
statelessness — noun see stateless … New Collegiate Dictionary
statelessness — See stateless. * * * … Universalium
statelessness — noun The property of being stateless … Wiktionary
statelessness — n. lack of statehood; condition of being without citizenship, condition of having no nationality … English contemporary dictionary
statelessness — state·less·ness … English syllables
statelessness — See: stateless … English dictionary
1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness — Statelessness Reduction Convention Stateless Palestinian Refugees, 1948 Signed 30 August 1961 Location New York City Effective 13 December 1975 Condition Fulfilled Parties 40 … Wikipedia
stateless — statelessness, n. /stayt lis/, adj. 1. lacking nationality. 2. Finance. of, pertaining to, or consisting of any currency deposited in banks outside the country of original issue. [1600 10; STATE + LESS] * * * … Universalium