Source: The Conversation
Cristiano D’Orsi, Research Fellow and Lecturer at the South African Research Chair in International Law (SARCIL), University of Johannesburg
Three years ago the United Nations took steps to try and address the issue of statelessness by putting in place a 10-point plan that aims to reduce the number of people who are not recognised as a national by any state.
The exact number of stateless people isn’t known. The UNHCR estimates that there are at least 10 million in the world – of which approximately one third are children. Though numbers have been decreasing (the number of stateless people in 2007 was 15 million) more needs to be done.
Apart from a sense of identity, belonging to a state is crucial to a person’s ability to access education, healthcare and fully participate in political processes. Without a nationality, individuals don’t have the right to vote or the unrestricted right to enter and live in a country under international law. Stateless people therefore end up without any residence status or, worse, in prolonged detention.