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Statelessness is a phenomenon which is as old as the concept of citizenship but in recent times, has increased in unprecedented proportions. It is a state of ceasing to exist “legally”. Citizenship is a relationship between the individual and his chosen state, as a result of which the state grants economic, social and political rights. Being deprived of these rights is equivalent to living in a dystopian world, as they become prime targets of exploitation facing inhumane and gory torture.Statelessness is not caused by uncontrollable external factors but is bred by the state itself as a result of conflict of laws, discrimination , forced displacement, secession of state etc.


Statelessness has a hundred year history in the international community, dating back to 1924 through the formation of the league of nations. In order to protect the stateless, the international community had to determine the authority which was most competent to govern in this field. It was decided that jurisdiction which, in principle, belongs solely to the State is limited by rules of international law. Later in Conventional Law, the 1930 Hague Convention on Nationality under Article 1 stated “It is for each State to determine under its own law who are its nationals”. Article 1 however continues with the reservation: “This law shall be recognized by other States in so far as it is consistent with international conventions, international custom, and the principles of law generally recognized with regard to nationality” Therefore  it was inferred that states have limited autonomy in the matters of nationality. As World War Two caused widespread statelessness, The Economic and social Council of the UN enquired into this increase and came up with the study of statelessness report of 1949, which suggested the urgent need for the control and abolishment of the stateless and therefore the subsequent conventions were brought about, that is 1951, the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees,1954, the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness 1961.
Further The international community was making developments in an astounding pace and was augmenting the scope of various articles as to ensure reduction in the stateless population in the world through  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,1948 which stated “everyone has the right to nationality” (article 15 ) Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (article 24) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (article 7) protect the right of  every child to acquire a nationality. 
Discrimination in the enjoyment of the right to a nationality, on the grounds of race or ethnicity, or sex, or disability, is prohibited under the terms of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (article 5), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (article 9) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (article 18).
The efforts of the international community haven’t stopped and it continues to bring about innovative steps to lend a humane helping hand to the stateless through the #IBelong campaign to end stateless by 2024. The UN continues to raise funds for ensuring basic amenities  to the stateless.

The situation of the jews, victims of the fall of USSR, Roma and now that of the Rohingya , tibetans, africans and Tamil Srilankans serves as evidence dating the existential crises of the stateless way back in time. To understand the origin, cause and state of the stateless population.

According to Amnesty International “Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the World” . This is due to two main incidents which rendered them stateless and led to horrific consequences. Operation Nagamin which was launched in 1978, resulted in many Rohingyas having their official documentation taken away by inter-agency teams of inspectors. Subsequently, the military regime promulgated the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law which recognised only 135 groups as citizens and Rohingya were not one of them. They were considered as ‘resident foreigners’, therefore stateless. As a result of which they were subjected to gory treatment.
Myanmar military forces entered Rohingya houses, first killed men, then raped women ( virgins and pregnant, young and old ) and burnt the house after. They used this systematic massacre as methods of ethnic cleansing.
Countries like the U.K has pledged £47million for providing supplies and similar efforts have been made by the U.S and Malasian Govenrments. UNHCR is raising funds for two camps of Kutupalong and Nayapara. Amidst all this, It is surprising to see India, which has a tradition of providing a home ( tibetans, Sri Lankans, Afghans etc) and humanitarian aid to neighbours in distress (Tsunami in 2004 or the Cyclone nargis 2008 in Myanmar and Nepal earthquake 2015) being mum on the Rohingya issue. Being a neighbour state to both Bangladesh and Myanmar, it would be the worst hit if the stateless Rohingya population continued to grow. India did organise operation “Insaniyat” for dispatching humanitarian aid but went unnoticed as it was stinted amongst the plentiful efforts of other nations.
Indias rescience on this matter is because it believes that Rohingya if granted citizenship may cause havoc in the already unstable political situation prevalant. When a certain class of people are backward economically and socially, and fail to receive any help from competent authorities for their upliftment it causes dramatic changes. Though a small section in the society they make a huge impact. eg the Rohingya who are being deprived by  India with regards to granting citizenship, are feared for as they can be manipulated by the al Qaeda that can take their backwardness as an advantage to take up arms and cause terror in a country that has granted them citizenship but has not seen them as entitled and therefore denies rights that come with it. India being the second largest populated nation would not gain from an increase. India fails to provide education and health for the prevanalt poor, the Rohingya would be another burden which would go unnoticed.
The UN must push, for the protection of the Rohingya, a trilateral agreement between India ,Myanmar and Bangladesh to reach an understanding of their plight.They should agree upon speedy and liberal rules for granting citizenship and providing them with a dignified humane life. Judgement delivered by the supreme court of india has a long standing effect in determining the issue of granting citizenship in india where one side there is threat to security and in a another side there is a possibility of social integration.

Tibetans position in India is very precarious. India while lending a helping hand through legislations contradicts the same through its actions. India recognises every person born between January 26, 1950 to July 1 1987 as citizens of India Contradicting which is the Foreigners Act 1946. Therefore, despite being born during this period Tibetans are denied citizenship. Even the two High court verdicts declaring such tibetans “citizens” was futile. While the arrival of Tibetan refugees was regulated by the 2003 Act, Most of them are denied entry by Indian Authorities by referring to them as “Push backs”. The ones who manage to walk this humiliating path successfully,  Manage to, after a tedious process, acquire Registration and Identity certificates even after which they are often denied Jobs, the right to vote, acquire land and the right to free movement.
How is a Tibetan who cannot hold land legally, who cannot obtain jobs easily have the kind of money needed ( Approx Rs 1,00,000 ) to go through the arduous Court procedure to prove himself to be a citizen of India. How can those who have been made citizens, feel at home after not being given the right to vote and right to government jobs and being abstained from having anything to do with the development of the Nation.

Stateless are mainly of two types, De jure Stateless and De facto Stateless.De jure statelessness occurs when the law prohibits certain people or groups from becoming nationals of a State. De facto statelessness occurs where a person is effectively denied the rights conferred on them by their nationality due to discrimination and often a lack of means to prove their nationality in the form of denial of access to documentation. Therefore it can be observed that statelessness is a concept that is bred by the state itself.
Laws are formed by Countries keeping in mind the ideologies and customs that prevail within that particular country, as a result of which we have 195 variations of law. While dealing with so many ethnicities, religions and varying beliefs it is common to stumble upon the obstacle of conflicting laws while trying to reach the common goal of uniformity. E.g When A is born in a country that recognises citizenship only on the principles of  jus sanguinis, to B who’s country recognises principles of jus soli only, The problem of statelessness arises. Balancing out these laws, theoretically may seem very simple and obvious but in reality is exactly the opposite. Urging all nations to include a pure jus soli clause in their citizenship act may not suit the situation in certain countries. Thailand in 1972  which was previously a jus soli abolished it to prevent illegal immigration from Burma the same was also done by India on December 2004 so as to prevent illegal immigrants from bangladesh. A Country’s top priority is always to protect their national integrity. India which is already facing a problem of over population, terrorism, poverty, discrimination and corruption would think twice before bringing upon itself the burden of illegal immigrants who are manipulated into indulging in illegal activities as they cannot legally earn their living. Even if a country applies the jus soli principle, the question of how liberal and unconditional its application is remains. In the path of selfish national integrity one becomes blinded towards the selfless humanitarian approach. This diversion is where The UN must intervene by pressurising the nations through diplomatic ties for agreements between concerned countries to provided citizenship to the stateless in a more liberal manner by harmonising their laws with one another, so as to bridge out the gap. understanding their economic and social backwardness.

Law always limits every power it gives- David Hume

From when the Romanies left Northern India in the 13th century and dispersed across the European continent they lost their homogeneity as a result of adaptation to various customs prevelant. They’ve never built a permanent home or demanded a territorial land for themselves as the idea of establishing a Romani country was struck down on the principle of  Amaro Romano drom, which meant that ” our state is everywhere where there are Roma as because Romanestan is in our hearts”. After the fall of communism  several successor states of fallen communist regimes refused to confer citizenship status on individuals on ethnic bases. Adding to this was the verbal abuse of terming Romas as “gypsies” with encapsulated several stereotypes including generalising them as nomadic and innate criminals. Romani being recognised as the only non territorial nation  caused a lot of legal problems such as the link that roma nationals would have with the state territory and whether it would solve the problem of statelessness. EU member states are parties to both the sister conventions  but the member state sovereignty document along with the caveat in the Race directive provides a legal loophole in which member states can without any legal consequence deny citizenship to the Roma. Times have changed with the corrosion of the National sovereignty doctrine and international agreements being entered into.In the light of this change, issuing a directive based on Article 13 of the European community treaty which would provide  nationality to stateless roma who were born within the EU territory and actively providing administrative access to documentation to prove their residential status etc would be beneficial in the race to nationalise the Roma.

Nationality should not be held an obstacle to provide human rights which, by its name itself suggests that it ought to be equally provided to every Human Being irrespective of nationality status.

Judicial systems of various countries have taken a step forward towards working for the abolishment of statelessness by ensuring equanimity through their judgements. The judiciary shines through all the chaos and smoke caused by the governmental bodies as in the case of UK that conveniently denied protection through citizenship on the possibility of being granted a citizenship elsewhere. This was disregarded by the supreme court of UK in the al Jedda case where it held that “it would leave the law ‘mired in deeper complexity’ if states could rely on possible future acquisition of nationality to defeat claims to statelessness status”.In another case, The Netherlands court  rejected the applicants claim for citizenship but on the contrary observed that there were no specific provisions regarding the registration process of the stateless which resulted in bureaucrats having arbitrary and discretionary powers in the area resulting in its abuse. While in the previous two cases courts called for the immediate attention to bridge gaps in law, in Africa the court sort for the proper implementation of its commitments. It was held that though the country being charter to both the sister conventions and recognising every stateless child born on African soil to be an African citizen ,as Commendable as this may be, without implementation the principle is meaningless. It was declared that an unimplemented international law compliant provision is of no use to those in need of protection, therefore a need for implementing bodies was a must. Laws and its implementation are always balancing on a thin rope, with the risk of falling into either one of the two extremist sides of national integrity or social integration.This balance was rightly addressed by The Supreme Court  of India where it held that chakmas who had come from Bangladesh due to persecution cannot be forcibly sent back to Bangladesh as they may be killed or tortured or discriminated. This would result in them being deprived of their right to life under Article 21 and India being a strong democratic cannot turn a blind eye towards this. Adding to this ,The recent judgments of the Delhi High Court and Karnataka High Court dealing with citizenship of Tibetans, granting the right vote to those who were born in India from 1950 to 1987 have paved way for stateless in India to make their way towards Indian citizenship.