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 12: Epilogue

James A. Goldston

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


James A. Goldston Source: © Greg Constantine 2010. Figure 12.1 Most Rohingya men in Bangladesh are exploited as labourers. Several thousand work as bonded labourers and are trapped into debt to local Bangladeshi boat owners. A group of Rohingya men in southern Bangladesh push their fishing boat out for another day’s work. As many as 175 million people worldwide are not citizens of the countries in which they reside. A sizeable percentage of them, an estimated 12 million, have been denied or deprived of a legal status – citizenship – that serves, in practice, as a precondition to the enjoyment of many rights, including voting, property ownership, health care, education and travel outside one’s own country. Ill-treatment of non-citizens, arbitrary denial of citizenship and 209 M2482 - BLITZ PRINT.indd 209 21/12/2010 11:56 210 Statelessness and citizenship statelessness are twenty-first century problems that implicate fundamental questions of state sovereignty, human rights and non-discrimination. While international law grants non-citizens virtually all rights to which citizens are entitled, except the rights to vote, hold public office and exit and enter at will, in reality, citizenship creates a giant loophole in the international framework. As a result non-citizens remain among the most vulnerable segments of humanity. States improperly deploy the concept of citizenship to carve out significant exceptions to the universality of human rights protection in two ways: through deprivation of, and/or restrictions on access to, citizenship; and through the imposition of distinctions between citizens and non-citizens. When taken together, the powers to deny citizenship and...

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