Main Debates

  • What is the link between statelessness and forced displacement?
  • Is statelessness determination a pre-condition of providing international protection to stateless persons?
  • What are the common elements of and differences between refugee status determination and statelessness determination? What are the pros and cons of a joint determination of these conditions?
  • Can/should a distinction be drawn between ’in situ’ and ’migrant’ stateless persons and what does this mean in terms of states’ obligations?
  • How has the concept of de facto statelessness been (mis-) used and why is this contested? Are there any specific arguments for its continued use?

Main Points

  • Human rights law addresses rights of stateless persons and right to nationality, but UN statelessness conventions form the only legal regimes specifically tailored towards statelessness
  • Statelessness determination as cornerstone of protection for stateless persons in migration context; challenge of proving the absence of nationality
  • The meaning of statelessness-specific protection as an emerging paradigm of international protection
  • Stateless persons may be in ‘own country’: addressing nationality problem vs. providing (international) protection
  • Forced displacement as cause and consequence of statelessness; heightened vulnerability of stateless persons to human rights abuses
  • State sovereignty in regulation of nationality constrained by principal of avoidance of statelessness
  • Powerful imagery of the notion of de facto statelessness vs. lack of an international legal regime



  1. United Nations, Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, 360 U.N.T.S. 117, 28 September 1954.
  2. United Nations, Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, 989 U.N.T.S. 175, 30 August 1961. 


  1. European Convention on Nationality, 1997

Soft Law

  1. UNHCR, ’Handbook on Protection of Stateless Persons’, 30 June 2014. 



  1. A. Edwards, and L. van Waas, Nationality and Statelessness under International Law, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), pp. 1-43; 64-143.
  2. A. Edwards, and L. van Waas, “Statelessness” in E. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, , G. Loescher, K. Long, and N. Sigona, (eds), Handbook in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, (Oxford:Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 290-301.
  3. European Network on Statelessness, ‘Statelessness Determination and the Protection Status of Stateless Persons’, 2013.


  1. G. Gyulai, 'Statelessness in the EU Framework for International Protection', European Journal of Migration and Law, vol.14 (2012) pp. 279–295; 285-289.