Background note on statelessness in West Africa
Statelessness refers to the condition of an individual who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law.Although stateless people may sometimes also be refugees, the two categories are distinct in international law.
Statelessness stems from issues related to nationality. Its main causes are gaps in nationality laws, arbitrary deprivation of nationality, processes relating to State succession and restrictive administrative practices, for example in relation to issuance of documents which prove nationality. While human rights are in principle universal and inherent, in practice a large range of fundamental human rights are denied to stateless people: they are often unable to obtain identity documents; they may be detained for reasons linked to their statelessness; and often times they are denied access to education and health services or blocked from obtaining employment.