× 1 Statelessness and human rights
2 The right to a nationality
3 The rights of stateless persons
4 Human rights frameworks and mechanisms
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1 Statelessness and human rights



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International human rights law protects the right to a nationality. Yet, statelessness pervades all regions of the world. At least 15 million people face life without a nationality today.  And, every ten minutes, another child is born stateless.

The stateless are among the most vulnerable and excluded. They struggle to enjoy quality education and healthcare; safe, secure and dignified work; inheritance and ownership of property; and basic banking, communication and other services. They struggle to obtain identification documents, without which, it is difficult to legally leave, re-enter and live in their countries. Perceived as outsiders, they are vulnerable to victimisation, discrimination, exploitation and exclusion from socio-political life. Stateless persons struggle to realise their capabilities and live with dignity, free from poverty. Their situation is worsened by inability to access justice. This vicious circle, often results in intergenerational statelessness.

Statelessness is a human rights issue, which requires a concerted, multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach at national, regional and international levels. Indeed, not only is statelessness the most extreme violation of the right to a nationality, but both the causes and consequences of statelessness can be understood in human rights terms and addressed through human rights norms. The below diagram offers some examples of the interplay between statelessness and human rights.