LawGlobal Hub

LawGlobal Hub

LawGlobal Hub

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Home » Articles » The Concept of Stateless Persons in International Law; Their Rights, Duties and Obligations – Anijah Gideon

The Concept of Stateless Persons in International Law; Their Rights, Duties and Obligations – Anijah Gideon

Concept of stateless persons

The Concept of Stateless Persons in International Law; Their Rights, Duties and Obligations

Introduction

A quick glance at the topic of this article and one would begin to wonder what exactly the writer means by Stateless Persons/Persons of Undetermined Nationality.

How can one be without a state [in this context, a country], and how can one be said to be of an ‘undetermined nationality‟? Is it not a fact that every human being is a national of one or more countries? So what then does the writer mean by stateless person?

Definition of Concepts

A stateless person is one who is not considered a national by any State under the operation of its laws.1

In simple terms, it is used to refer to a person or group of persons whom by any reason whatsoever lacks legal citizenship in any country where they’re currently residing.

Statelessness can occur for so many reasons. For one, it may occur when a child is born to stateless parents or in a territory with disputed nationality laws. It can also occur when a new state is formed, and some individuals may be left without citizenship in either the new or old state. Lastly, it may occur when a state revokes someone’s citizenship in certain circumstances, thereby potentially leaving them stateless.2

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR], over 4.4 million persons are stateless.3 And these stateless persons often belonging to minority groups are often deprived of human rights and access to basic services.2

Legal Instruments

The key legal framework that makes provisions for the concept of stateless persons and persons of undetermined nationality is the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

The 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons defines who is considered stateless and outlines their rights and protections, while the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness on the other hand aims to prevent statelessness by encouraging states to adopt fairer nationality laws.

See also: Differences Between the Nigerian and American Electoral System

It is reported that in total, about 97 countries are now state parties to the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, and 79 are party to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.4

See also  Maximizing Investment Potential: Understanding the Benefits of 1031 Exchange Real Estate

Rights, Obligations & Duties of Stateless Persons/persons of Undertermined Nationality

Article 1 [1], 1954 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons defined a stateless person/stateless persons thus; “For the purpose of this Convention, the term “stateless person” means a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law.”

Article 1 [2] then goes further ahead to provide that the convention is to apply to persons who are receiving protection or assistance from any organ or agencies of the United Nations other than the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees;5 and also to persons with respect to whom there are serious reasons for considering that: (a) They have committed a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity; (b) They have committed a serious non-political crime outside the country of their residence prior to their admission to that country; and (c) They have been guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.6

In Articles 2, the Convention begins to spell out the duties of a stateless person to wit “Every stateless person has duties to the country in which he finds himself, which require in particular that he conform to its laws and regulations as well as to measures taken for the maintenance of public order”. Thus, even though one is a stateless person in a particular country, he owes the duty/obligation  to  obey  every  lawful  regulation  extant  in  the  country  where  he/she  currently resides.

As per the rights of stateless persons, the Convention makes provisions for protection against discrimination. Article 3 of the Convention provides that “The Contracting States to the Convention shall apply its provisions to stateless persons without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin.”

Also, the contracting parties to the convention were all enjoined in Article 4 to “accord to stateless persons within their territories treatment at least as favourable as that accorded to their nationals with respect to freedom to practise their religion and freedom as regards the religious education of their children”. In essence, every stateless person is guaranteed the rights to practice his religion without any interference.

As regards Personal Status, Article 12 provides that “The personal status of a stateless person shall be governed by the law of the country of his domicile or, if he has no domicile, by the law of the country of his residence. More so, rights which were previously acquired by a stateless person and dependent on personal status, more particularly rights attaching to marriage, shall also be respected by a Contracting State, subject to compliance, if this be necessary, with the formalities required by the law of that State.

See also  Experienced FDA Lawyer for Medical Device Regulations

Furthermore, Article 13 which makes provisions for movable and immovable property stipulates that “The Contracting States shall accord to a stateless person treatment as favourable as possible, as regards the acquisition of movable and immovable property and other rights pertaining thereto, and to leases and other contracts relating to movable and immovable property. Thus, stateless persons on the strength of this provision can own both moveable and immovable properties in the territory of the country were they currently resides.

In a world where artistic rights and industrial innovations are rife, Article 14 of the Convention makes provisions for the artistic rights and intellectual property rights of stateless persons. It provides that “In respect of the protection of industrial property, such as inventions, designs or models, trademarks, trade names, and of rights in literary, artistic and scientific works, a stateless person shall be accorded in the country in which he has his habitual residence the same protection as is accorded to nationals of that country. In the territory of any other Contracting State, he shall be accorded the same protection as is accorded in that territory to nationals of the country in which he has his habitual residence”. The purpose of this provision from every indication is to safeguard the intellectual creations of stateless persons as much as that of any regular/average citizen. Thus, their being stateless does not deprive them of enjoying such.

In Article 15, the right of association as regards non-political and non-profit-making associations and trade unions are equally accorded to stateless persons lawfully staying in the territory of a contracting state to the convention.

In Article 16 also, access to courts and judicial process were granted stateless persons. The provision in question provides that “A stateless person shall have free access to the Courts of Law on the territory of all Contracting States”. They shall also enjoy in the Contracting State in which they have their habitual residence the same treatment as a national in matters pertaining to access to the Courts, including legal assistance and services.

Under Chapter III and Chapter IV of the convention, stateless persons are entitled to wage earning employment7, Self-employment8, Liberal Professions9, Rationing10, Housing11, Public Education12, Public Relief13, Labour Legislation and Social Security,14 and Freedom of movement.15

See also  Criminal Liability of Corporate Entities (Companies) in Nigeria - Inioluwa Olaposi

Finally, Article 32 of the Convention makes provision for an opportunity of naturalization for stateless persons. The convention in Article 32 provides that “The Contracting States shall as far as possible facilitate the assimilation and naturalization of stateless persons. They shall in particular make every effort to expedite naturalization proceedings and to reduce as far as possible the charges and costs of such proceedings.” It is on the strength of this particular provision that countries like the Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Moldova, Portugal, North Macedonia, Kenya and Tanzania enacted legislations that either sort to allow stateless persons acquire their nationality or strived to reduce statelessness.16

See also: North Atlantic Treaty Organization

All in all, it can be seen from the provisions of this convention that the intent of the draftsmen were to first of all recognize the existence of these set of persons whom for one reason or the other are no longer affiliated to any state, and to also give them where deserving a new opportunity to life.


About Author

Anijah Gideon Chukwuemeka is a recent law graduate of the prestigious faculty of law, University of Nigeria. He harbours a deep sense of interest in international law, international relations and policy. He can be reached via 0706 912 5514 or [email protected].

Anijah Gideon Chukwuemeka
  1. UNHCR, „About Statelessness- What Does It Mean To Be Stateless‟? [2023]<https://www.unhcr.org/ibelong/about-statelessness/#:-:text=What%20is%20statelessness%3F,the%20nationality%20of%20any%20country> accessed 25 March 2024 []
  2. Ibid [] []
  3. DW News, „At Least 4.4 Million People Are Stateless, UN Says‟ [2023] <https://www.dw.com/en/at-least-44- million-people-are-stateless-un-says/a-67304876?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf> accessed 28 March 2024 []
  4. Ibid [n-3] []
  5. Article 1[2] [I] []
  6. Article 1[2] [III] [a-c] []
  7. Article 17 []
  8. Article 18 []
  9. Article 19 []
  10. Article 20 []
  11. Article 21 []
  12. Article 22 []
  13. Article 23 []
  14. Article 24 []
  15. Article 26 []
  16. DW News, „At Least 4.4 Million People Are Stateless, UN Says‟ [2023] <https://www.dw.com/en/at-least-44- million-people-are-stateless-un-says/a-67304876?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf> accessed 30 March 2024 []

More Posts

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

LawGlobal Hub is your innovative global resource of law and more. We ensure easy accessibility to the laws of countries around the world, among others