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 10: Arabia’s Bidoon

Abbas Shiblak

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


Abbas Shiblak The word Bidoon is an Arabic term meaning ‘without’. It is used in Arabia and the Gulf States for those who are without nationality.1 Most of the Bidoon are people who have been long settled in Kuwait and nearby states, and the majority of them are Bedouins of nomadic origin. However, these categories are not coterminous and one should not confuse the term Bidoon with that of Bedouin. It has been estimated that the number of Bidoon in Kuwait before the Iraqi invasion of 1990 was between 240 000 and 250 000, but (although the full scope of the problem in the region is unknown) that figure is estimated to have been cut in half in the aftermath of the invasion to approximately 80 000–120 000 persons.2 This chapter focuses on the situation of the Bidoon in countries the researcher visited in 2009 – Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. In addition, the researcher gathered desk information and conducted interviews with human rights experts and exiles in Europe to learn more about other Gulf States that the team was not able to visit. Focusing primarily on Kuwait because of the size of the population, the research examines the causes of the phenomenon of statelessness in a lightly populated but rich oil-producing country where issues of security and the place of foreign migrant workers remain highly sensitive. The first section describes Kuwait’s nationality law while the second part examines the human impact of restrictions imposed on the Bidoon community. This is...

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