Statelessness and Citizenship

Statelessness and Citizenship

A Comparative Study on the Benefits of Nationality

Edited by Brad K. Blitz and Maureen Lynch

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are more than 12 million stateless people in the world. The existence of stateless populations challenges some central tenets of international law and contemporary human rights discourses, yet only a very small number of states have made measurable progress in helping individuals acquire or regain citizenship. This fascinating study examines positive developments in eight countries and pinpoints the benefits of citizenship now enjoyed by formerly stateless persons.

Chapter 1: Statelessness and the Deprivation of Nationality

Brad K. Blitz and Maureen Lynch

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights

Extract

Brad K. Blitz and Maureen Lynch Source: © Greg Constantine 2010. Figure 1.1 In southern Nepal, a Dalit man and his grandson rest in the morning. The man’s family has lived in the Terai for over five generations, yet he is still without Nepalese citizenship. Under the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, a stateless person is an individual not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law.1 Although statelessness is prohibited under international instruments, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates, that there may be as many as 12 million stateless people in the world.2 The existence of stateless populations challenges some of the central tenets of international law and the human 1 M2482 - BLITZ PRINT.indd 1 21/12/2010 11:56 2 Statelessness and citizenship rights discourse that have developed over the past 60 years. Most importantly, the reality of statelessness is at odds with the right to nationality, which is explicitly recorded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 15 of the UDHR implicitly acknowledges the principle whereby an individual’s nationality is linked to his or her identity, and it states, ‘no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality’.3 The right to nationality has been further elaborated in two key international conventions which have brought the concept of statelessness into the United Nations framework and will be explored in greater detail in Chapter 2: the 1954 Convention relating...

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