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Manufacturing Statelessness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 January 2022

Neha Jain*
Associate professor of law, University of Minnesota Law School, United States; Professor of Public International Law and Co-Director of the Academy of European Law, European University Institute in Italy.


Having recently emerged from its unenviable status as the runt of international law, the phenomenon of statelessness nonetheless eludes traditional international legal instruments. Confronted with questions of nationality that typically fall within the domain of sovereignty, international and regional human rights bodies struggle to rein in the increasingly creative measures that states adopt to obscure the production and persistence of statelessness. This Article uncovers and dissects the different ways in which states manufacture statelessness not through explicitly discriminatory laws and unequal treatment, but through manipulating ostensibly neutral criteria for nationality. The Article identifies three such criteria that are not traditionally considered “suspect” categories for the grant or denial of nationality: time, territory, and administrative practice. It also suggests doctrinal, policy, and strategic tools for identifying and responding to the types of statelessness that are not a collateral consequence of state failure or incompetence, but the outcome of state intentionality.

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Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press for The American Society of International Law

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For illuminating comments and discussions, I am grateful to Jessica Clarke, Martijn Hesselink, Sarah Nouwen, Maarten Vink, and participants in workshops at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, European University Institute, O.P. Jindal Global University, Hebrew University, and Edinburgh Law School.


1 B. Traven, The Death Ship (1934).

2 See John Anthony West, Traven's “Death Ship” –– Authentic, Hypnotic, and Maybe Alchemical, N.Y. Times (Nov. 10, 1985) (quoting Bruce Catton).

3 Lily Chen, Petra Nahmias & Sebastian Steinmueller, UNHCR Statistical Reporting on Statelessness, UNHCR Statistics Technical Series 2019/1 (Oct. 2019), at

4 See, e.g., UNHCR, Ending Statelessness, at (identifying various causes for statelessness, including gaps in nationality laws, movement of people outside the country of their birth, state creation and border changes, and citizenship loss or deprivation). As I will argue, these only scratch the surface of the processes through which states manufacture statelessness.

5 See UNHCR, Handbook on Protection of Stateless Persons Under the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, para. 1 (2014) (“Most stateless persons, however, have never crossed borders and find themselves in their ‘own country.’”).

6 There is sophisticated scholarship focusing on specific countries and the ways in which they have deliberately sought to exclude individuals who would be entitled to citizenship status, or indeed may already possess that status and be subsequently stripped of it. This Article draws from this scholarship in the various examples it puts forward to illustrate its thesis. However, most of this scholarship takes the form of in-depth historical or rich ethnographic accounts and it does not typically zoom out from individual case studies to speak to the broader phenomenon of statelessness as manufactured by impartial, neutral criteria that are considered universal prerequisites for citizenship. The bulk of this scholarship is also not written by legal scholars, leaving the international legal dimensions of the phenomena somewhat unexplored. For a notable recent exception, see Michelle Foster & Jade Roberts, Manufacturing Foreigners: The Law and Politics of Transforming Citizens into Migrants, in Research Handbook on the Law and Politics of Migration 218 (Catherine Dauvergne ed., 2021) (analyzing the practice of states turning minority populations into foreigners, thus forcibly rendering them stateless, through case studies of the Dominican Republic and India).

7 UNHCR, Global Action Plan to End Statelessness, 2014–2024, at

8 UN News, Ending Statelessness “A Matter of Political Will,” Says UN Refugee Agency Chief (Nov. 11, 2020), at

9 Global Action Plan to End Statelessness, supra note 7.

10 See Mira L. Siegelberg, Statelessness: A Modern History (2020) (for a comprehensive analysis of the historical evolution of the status of statelessness).

11 Id. at 14–15.

12 John Torpey, The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Passport System, in Documenting Individual Identity: The Development of State Practices in the Modern World 256, 269–70 (Jane Caplan & John Torpey eds., 2001).

13 Id. at 270.

14 Siegelberg, supra note 10, at 45–46.

15 See Georg Schwarzenberger, International Law 171 (1949).

16 Hersch Lauterpacht, An International Bill of the Rights of Man 126 (1945).

17 See 1 Lassa Oppenheim, International Law 668 (1955) (stating that, with the loss of the link of nationality, the stateless had no means of claiming protection under international law).

18 Siegelberg, supra note 10, at 65–67.

19 Id. at 68–69.

20 179 LNTS 89, Apr. 13, 1930.

21 179 LNTS 115, Apr. 12, 1930.

22 Manley O. Hudson, The First Conference for the Codification of International Law, 24 AJIL 447, 450 (1930).

23 Id.; Richard W. Flournoy, Nationality Convention, Protocols and Recommendations Adopted by the First Conference on the Codification of International Law, 24 AJIL 467, 481–83 (1930).

24 Weis, Paul, The United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, 1961, 11 Int'l & Comp. L. Q. 1073, 1074 (1962)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

25 Id.

26 Spiro, Peter J., A New International Law of Citizenship, 105 AJIL 694, 709 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

27 Matthew J. Gibney, Statelessness and Citizenship in Ethical and Political Perspective, in Nationality and Statelessness Under International Law 44, 49 (Alice Edwards & Laura van Waas eds., 2014).

28 Will Hanley, Statelessness: An Invisible Theme in the History of International Law, 25 Eur. J. Int'l L. 321, 322 (2014).

29 Batchelor, Carol A., Stateless Persons: Some Gaps in International Protection, 7 Int'l J. Refugee L. 232, 239 (1995)Google Scholar, citing Guy Goodwin-Gill, The Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons: Problems of Stateless Persons and the Need for International Measures of Protection, in Human Rights Perspective and Challenges (in 1990 and Beyond) 378, 389–90 (K. P. Saksena ed., 1994).

30 Kuhn, Arthur K., International Measures for the Relief of Stateless Persons, 30 AJIL 495, 499 (1936)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

31 See Siegelberg, supra note 10, at 152–54. See generally Michelle Foster & Hélène Lambert, International Refugee Law and the Protection of Stateless Persons 23 (2019).

32 UN Economic and Social Council (UNESC), Res. 116 D (VI), UN Doc. E/777 (Mar. 1–2, 1948).

33 UN Ad Hoc Committee on Refugees and Stateless Persons, A Study of Statelessness, at 4, 10, UN Doc. E/1112 (1949); Foster and Lambert, supra note 31, at 29.

34 UNESC, Res. 248(IX) (Aug. 6, 1949).

35 Foster & Lambert, supra note 31, at 36–39.

36 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, Art. 1, Sept. 28, 1954, 360 UNTS 117 (hereinafter 1954 Stateless Convention).

37 Batchelor, supra note 29, at 232.

38 Id. at 247–48.

39 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, Art. 1, Aug. 30, 1961, 989 UNTS 175.

40 See Laura van Waas, The UN Statelessness Conventions, in Nationality and Statelessness Under International Law, supra note 27, at 78.

41 See Batchelor, supra note 29, at 246–49.

42 GA Res. 3274(XXIX) (Dec. 10, 1974); GA Res. 31/36 (Nov. 30, 1976). See van Waas, supra note 40, at 78.

43 GA Res. 50/152 (Feb. 9, 1996).

44 See the status at As of early 2021, the 1954 Convention has ninety-five parties and twenty-three signatories, whereas the 1961 Convention has seventy-six parties and five signatories.

45 UNHCR, Guidelines on Statelessness No. 1: The Definition of “Stateless Person” in Article 1(1) of the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, HCR/GS/12/01 (Feb. 20, 2012); UNHCR, Guidelines on Statelessness No. 2: Procedures for Determining Whether an Individual Is a Stateless Person, HCR/GS/12/02 (Apr. 5, 2012); UNHCR, Guidelines on Statelessness No. 3: The Status of Stateless Persons at the National Level, HCR/GS/12/03 (July 17, 2012); UNHCR, Guidelines on Statelessness No. 4: Ensuring Every Child's Right to Acquire a Nationality Through Articles 1–4 of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, HCR/GS/12/04 (Dec. 21, 2012).

46 See Mark Manly, UNHCR's Mandate and Activities to Address Statelessness, in Nationality and Statelessness Under International Law, supra note 27, at 88, 97–113.

47 UNHCR Handbook, supra note 5, para. 1.

48 Id., para. 7, n. 4.

49 See David Weissbrodt & Clay Collins, The Human Rights of Stateless Persons, 28 Hum. Rts. Q. 245, 248–49 (2006).

50 Id. at 249–50. For example, Article 4 of the 1954 Stateless Convention enjoins states to grant lawfully resident stateless persons rights that are equivalent to nationals in certain respects such as religion, access to elementary education, and public relief.

51 See Spiro, supra note 26, at 695–96.

52 See id. at 721–22.

53 James G. Devaney, What Happens Next? The Law of State Succession, 1, 19 (GCILS Working Paper, No. 6, Nov. 2020).

54 See Andreas Zimmermann, State Succession and the Nationality of Natural Persons – Facts and Possible Codification, in La succession d’états: la codification à l'éprouve des facts/State Succession: Codifications Tested Against the Facts 612, 659–61 (Pierre Michel Eisemann & Martti Koskenniemi eds., 2000) (surveying state practice and evidence of customary international law on the question of conferral of nationality and obligation to avoid statelessness in the context of state succession).

55 See Blackman, Jeffrey L., State Successions and Statelessness: The Emerging Right to an Effective Nationality Under International Law, 19 Mich. J. Int'l L. 1141, 1164–94 (1998)Google Scholar (for an excellent overview of these developments).

56 European Convention on Nationality, Art. 18(2), Nov. 6, 1997, 37 ILM 44; Council of Europe Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in relation to State Succession, Arts. 5–6, May 19, 2006, ETS No. 200, Explanatory Report, para. 19.

57 International Law Commission, Draft Articles on Nationality of Natural Persons in Relation to the Succession of States, UN Doc. A/54/10 (Apr. 3, 1999).

58 Ineta Ziemele, State Succession and Issues of Nationality and Statelessness, in Nationality and Statelessness Under International Law, supra note 27, at 217, 229.

59 ILC Draft Articles, supra note 57, Art. 4.

60 Foster, Michelle & Baker, Timnah Rachel, Racial Discrimination in Nationality Laws: A Blindspot of International Law?, 11 Colum. J. Race & L. 83, 9091 (2021)Google Scholar.

61 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Mar. 7, 1966, 660 UNTS 195.

62 See Spiro, supra note 26, at 716.

63 Foster & Baker, supra note 60, at 87.

64 See Drew Mahalic & Joan Gambee Mahalic, The Limitation Provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 9 Hum. Rts. Q. 74, 79, 82 (1987).

65 Comm. on Elimination Racial Discrimination, General Recommendation Thirty, on Discrimination Against Non-citizens, paras. 13–14, UN Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.7/Add.1 (May 4, 2005). See also Patrick Thornberry, The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination: A Commentary 146 (2016).

66 Foster & Baker, supra note 60, at 116.

67 Id. at 118–123.

68 Id. at 124–26.

69 See, e.g., The Girls Yean v. Dominican Republic, Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations and Costs, Judgment, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 130 (Sept. 8, 2005); Expelled Dominicans and Haitians v. Dominican Republic, Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations and Costs, Judgment, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 282 (Aug. 28, 2014); Anudo v. Tanzania, Decision, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights [2108] AFCHPR 5 (Mar. 22, 2018); Penessis v. Tanzania, Decision, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights [2109] AFCHPR 8 (Nov. 28, 2019).

70 Bronwen Manby, Citizenship in Africa: The Law of Belonging 193 (2018).

71 Bronwen Manby, Nationality, Migration and Statelessness in West Africa: A Study for UNHCR and IOM 21 (2015), available at

72 See UNHCR, Background Note on Gender Equality, Nationality Laws and Statelessness 2018 (Mar. 8, 2018), available at

73 See generally McGee, Thomas, “Rainbow Statelessness”––Between Sexual Citizenship and Legal Theory: Exploring the Statelessness-LGBTQ+ Nexus, 2 Statelessness & Citizenship Rev. 64, 8084 (2020)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

74 See V.M.A. v. Stolichna Obsthina, Rayon “Pancharevo,” Case No. C-490/20, Grand Chamber Judgment (Dec. 14, 2021); Patricia Cabral, Protecting the Right to a Nationality for Children of Same-Sex Couples in the EU – A Key Issue Before the CJEU in V.M.A. v. Stolichna Obsthina (C-490/20), Eur. Network Statelessness Blog (Feb. 3, 2021), at

75 For instance, while the situation of the Palestinians has been described as one of the “most widely known situations of statelessness in the world,” the Article does not use this as a case study since it cannot easily be separated from the larger question of Palestinian statehood, which is beyond the scope of the Article. The situation is equally complex from the point of view of international regulation, where the UN Reliefs and Works Agency (UNRWA) established with a mandate to assist “Palestinian Refugees” may also include stateless Palestinians in certain cases. For a detailed analysis, see Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, The World's Stateless 127–132 (2014). Similarly, the Article does not address issues of statelessness that are inextricably linked to the contested international legal status of the putative country of nationality, as is the case for the UN-listed non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara. As Manby notes, the absence of UN recognition of Morocco as the administering power coupled with the limited international recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as an independent state has resulted in a “nationality vacuum” for the Sahrawis. Nevertheless, some states consider persons of Sahrawi origin who cannot be attributed with Moroccan nationality to be stateless. See Bronwen Manby, Nationality and Statelessness Among Persons of Western Saharan Origin, 34 J. Immigration, Asylum & Nationality L. 9, 25–29 (2020).

76 See Batchelor, Carol, Assessment of the #IBelong Campaign Mid-point and the High-Level Segment on Statelessness, 1 Statelessness & Citizenship Rev. 307–08 (2019)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

77 Melanie Griffiths, Ali Rogers & Bridget Anderson, Migration, Time, and Temporalities: Review and Prospects (COMPAS Research Resources Paper, Mar. 2013).

78 Elizabeth F. Cohen, The Political Value of Time: Citizenship, Duration, and Democratic Justice 1–4 (2018).

79 Id. at 25.

80 Id. at 5.

81 See Rainer Obliger, Ius Sanguinis, in 1 Immigration and Asylum: From 1900 to the Present 342, 342–46 (Matthew J. Gibney & Randall Hansen eds., 2005).

82 Noora Lori, Offshore Citizens: Permanent Temporary Status in the Gulf 94 (2019).

83 See Cohen, supra note 78, at 43.

84 Gelazis, Nida M., The European Union and the Statelessness Problem in the Baltic States, 6 Eur. J. Migration & L. 225, 228–34 (2004)Google Scholar.

85 Priit Järve & Vadim Poleshchuk, Country Report: Estonia, EUDO Citizenship Observatory 1 (2013), available at

86 See Kristine Krūma, Country Report on Citizenship Law: Latvia, EUDO Citizenship Observatory 6–7 (2015), available at

87 Gelazis, supra note 84, at 234–36.

88 Pettai, Vello & Hallik, Klara, Understanding Processes of Ethnic Control: Segmentation, Dependency and Co-optation in Post-communist Estonia, 8 Nations and Nationalism 505, 510–11 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

89 Järve & Poleshchuk, supra note 85, at 13.

90 See Dimitry Kochenov, EU Influence on the Citizenship Policies of the Candidate Countries: The Case of the Roma Exclusion in the Czech Republic, 3 J. Contemp. Eur. Res. 124, 139 (2007).

91 James Hughes, “Exit” in Deeply Divided Societies: Regimes of Discrimination in Estonia and Latvia and the Potential for Russophone Migration, 43 J. Common Market Stud. 739, 759 (2005).

92 Id. at 756.

93 See Järve & Poleshchuk, supra note 85, at 1; Krūma, supra note 86, at 10–11.

94 On the continuing legacy of artificial borders, in particular in Africa and the Middle East, see Tim Marshall, Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything About the World (2015).

95 Lori, supra note 82, at 94.

96 Organization of African Unity, Border Disputes Among African States, AHG/res. 16(I), Assembly of Heads of State and Government Meeting in Its First Ordinary Session in Cairo, UAR, 17–21 July (1964).

97 See Frontier Dispute (Burk. Faso v. Niger), 2013 ICJ Rep. 134, paras. 16–19 (Apr. 16) (sep. op., Yusuf, J.).

98 Open Society Justice Initiative v. Côte d'Ivoire, Comm. 318/06, 17th Extraordinary Sess., Feb. 19–28, 2015.

99 Id., paras. 53–54, 116–18.

100 Id., paras. 119–20.

101 UNHCR Press Release, Côte d'Ivoire Adopts Africa's First Legal Process to Identify and Protect Stateless People (Sept. 4, 2020), at

102 For a detailed history of the political history of Côte d'Ivoire's nationality laws, see Manby, supra note 70, at 207–20.

103 Kelly Staples, Retheorising Statelessness: A Background Theory of Membership in World Politics 139 (2012).

104 Human Rights Council, Res. A/HRC/RES39/2, para. 22 (Oct. 3, 2018).

105 Situation in the People's Republic of Bangladesh/Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Case No. ICC-01/19-27, Decision Pursuant to Article 15 of the Rome Statute on the Authorisation of an Investigation into the Situation in the People's Republic of Bangladesh/Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Pre-Trial Chamber III (Nov. 14, 2019).

106 Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Gamb. v. Myan.), Request for Provisional Measures, 2020 ICJ Rep. 3 (Jan. 23).

107 Myanmar: UN Expert Says Current International Efforts Failing, Urges “Change of Course, UN News (Sept. 22, 2021), at

108 Verena Hölzl, Three Years After Rohingya Exodus, Mismatched Expectations of Justice, New Humanitarian (Aug. 24, 2020), at

109 Cohen, supra note 78, at 8.

110 Noora Lori, Migration, Time, and the Shift Toward Autocracy, in The Shifting Border: Legal Cartographies of Migration and Mobility 121–22 (2020).

111 Id. at 119.

112 Id. at 119, 122–23.

113 The Girls Yean v. Dominican Republic, supra note 69.

114 American Convention on Human Rights, Nov. 22, 1969, OASTS No. B-32, 1144 UNTS 123.

115 The Girls Yean v. Dominican Republic, supra note 69, paras 137–38.

116 Id., para. 140.

117 Id., para. 141.

118 Id., para. 142.

119 Id., paras. 150–56.

120 Id., paras. 165–71.

121 Dinah Shelton & Alexandra Huneeus, In Re Direct Action of Unconstitutionality Initiated Against the Declaration of Acceptance of the Jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, 109 AJIL 866, 868 (2015).

122 Expelled Dominicans and Haitians v. Dominican Republic, supra note 69.

123 Id., paras. 163–66.

124 Id., paras. 253–61.

125 Id., paras. 282–88.

126 Id., para. 294.

127 Id. paras. 286–99.

128 See Bridget Wooding, Seizing New Opportunities to Address Statelessness in the Dominican Republic, Eur. Network Statelessness Blog (Nov. 19, 2020), at

129 Dominicanos por Derechos, The Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion & The Center for Justice and International Law, Joint Submission to the Human Rights Council at the 32nd Session of the Universal Periodic Review: The Dominican Republic, paras. 22–23, 31 (July 12, 2018), available at

130 Id., paras. 24–32.

131 Wooding, supra note 128.

132 Kurić and Others v. Slovenia, 2012-IV Eur. Ct. H.R. 1 [hereinafter Kurić 2012].

133 Vlasta Jalušič & Jasminka Dedić , (The) Erasure – Mass Human Rights Violation and Denial of Responsibility: The Case of Independent Slovenia, 9 Hum. Rts. Rev. 93, 94–96 (2008).

134 Kurić 2012, supra note 132; Kurić and Others v. Slovenia, Eur. Ct. H.R. 2014.

135 Committee of Ministers, Resolution CM/ResDH(2016)112, Execution of the Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, Kurić and Others Against Slovenia, 1257th Meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (May 25, 2016), at

136 Ginger Hervey, Justice Evades Slovenia's “Erased” Citizens, Politico (Mar. 28, 2017), at; Anja Vladisavlj, Status Revoked: Slovenia's “Erased” Recall Long Struggle for Justice, Balkan Transitional Just. (Feb. 26, 2021), at

137 See Mariane C. Ferme, Introduction: Localizing the State, 86 Anthropological Q. 957, 958 (2013).

138 Lori, supra note 82, at 6.

139 Roos Pijpers, Waiting for Work: Labour Migration and the Political Economy of Borders, in The Ashgate Research Companion to Border Studies 417, 432 (Doris Wastl-Walter ed., 2011).

140 Barry Schwartz, Waiting, Exchange, and Power: The Distribution of Time in Social Systems, 79 Am. J. Soc. 841, 844, 847 (1974).

141 Javier Auyero, Patients of the State: An Ethnographic Account of Poor People's Waiting, 46 Latin Am. Res. Rev. 5, 21–22 (2011).

142 Schwartz, supra note 140, at 862.

143 Lori, supra note 82, at 5–6.

144 Id. at 137–39.

145 Id. at 133.

146 Id. at 160–61.

147 Id. at 6–12.

148 See Ferme, supra note 137, at 958.

149 See Ayelet Shachar, The Shifting Border: Legal Cartographies of Migration and Mobility, in The Shifting Border, supra note 110, at 4–6.

150 See Weissbrodt & Collins, supra note 49, at 256.

151 See Alison Kesby, The Shifting and Multiple Border and International Law, 27 Oxford J. Leg. Stud. 101, 102–03 (2007).

152 Cohen, supra note 78, at 29–30.

153 See Kesby, supra note 151, at 110.

154 Shachar, supra note 149, at 43.

155 See Willem van Schendel, Stateless in South Asia: The Making of the India-Bangladesh Enclaves, 61 J. Asian Stud. 115, 139 (2002).

156 Id. at 116–17.

157 Id. at 124–26.

158 Hosna J. Shewly, Abandoned Spaces and Bare Life in the Enclaves of the India–Bangladesh Border, 32 Pol. Geo. 23, 24, 27 (2013).

159 Md. Azmeary Ferdoush & Reece Jones, The Decision to Move: Post-Exchange Experiences in the Former Bangladesh–India Border Enclaves, in Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands 255, 257–59 (Alexander Horstmann, Martin Saxer & Alessandro Rippa eds., 2018).

160 Id. at 263.

161 See Shiv Sahay Singh, 5 Years After Land Border Agreement, Former Enclave Dwellers in Dire Straits, Hindu (Aug. 3, 2020).

162 Mika Toyota, Subjects of the Nation Without Citizenship: The Case of “Hill Tribes” in Thailand, in Multiculturalism in Asia 110, 111 (Will Kymlicka & Baogang He eds., 2005).

163 Id. at 115.

164 Amanda Flaim, Daniel Ahlquist & Lindy Williams, How Statelessness, Citizenship, and Out-migration Contribute to Stratification Among Rural Elderly in the Highlands of Thailand, 99 Social Forces 323, 336 (2020).

165 Amanda Flaim, Problems of Evidence, Evidence of Problems: Expanding Citizenship and Reproducing Statelessness Among Highlanders in Northern Thailand, in Citizenship in Question: Evidentiary Birthright and Statelessness 147, 159–61 (Benjamin N. Lawrance & Jacqueline Stevens eds., 2017).

166 Toyota, supra note 162, at 118–19.

167 Flaim, supra note 165, at 161.

168 Id. at 162.

169 Flaim, Ahlquist & Williams, supra note 164, at 337.

170 Janepicha Cheva-Isarakul, “Diagnosing” Statelessness and Everyday State Illegibility in Northern Thailand, 1 Statelessness & Citizenship Rev. 214, 216–27 (2019).

171 Id. at 233–35.

172 Flaim, Ahlquist & Williams, supra note 164, at 337, 361.

173 Toyota, supra note 162, at 128.

174 See Étienne Balibar, We, The People of Europe?: Reflections on Transnational Citizenship 109 (2004) (characterizing the border as a “limit institution”).

175 Étienne Balibar, Europe as Borderland, at 4 (The Alexander von Humboldt Lecture in Human Geography, University of Nijmegen) (Nov. 10, 2004), available at

176 See Kesby, supra note 151, at 111 (using Balibar's theory to dissect states’ closure of geographical borders to the Roma who are widely portrayed as a non-territorial nomadic people).

177 Claire Beaugrand, Statelessness & Administrative Violence: Bidūns’ Survival Strategies in Kuwait, Muslim World 228, 233 (2011).

178 Id. at 232–33.

179 Id. at 233.

180 Claire Beaugrand, Borders and Spatial Imaginaries in the Kuwaiti Identity, 23 Geopolitics 544, 555–56 (2018).

181 See Amnesty International, Kuwait: Mandate of Abusive Government Body in Charge of Stateless Bidun People Extended (Nov. 24, 2020), at

182 See Tom Gunnar Hoogervorst, Ethnicity and Aquatic Lifestyles: Exploring Southeast Asia's Past and Present Seascapes, 4 Water Hist. 245 (2012).

183 Greg Acciaioli, Helen Brunt & Julian Clifton, Foreigners Everywhere, Nationals Nowhere: Exclusion, Irregularity, and Invisibility of Stateless Bajau Laut in Eastern Sabah, Malaysia, 15 J. Immigrant & Refugee Stud. 232, 233 (2017).

184 Carol Warren, Consciousness in Social Transformation: The Bajau Laut of East Malaysia, 5 Dialectical Anthropology 227, 228 (1980).

185 Clifford Sather, Commodity Trade, Gift Exchange, and the History of Maritime Nomadism in Southeastern Sabah, 6 Nomadic Peoples 20, 36 (2002).

186 Julian Clifton, Greg Acciaioli, Helen Brunt, Wolfram Dressler, Michael Fabinyi & Sarinda Singh, Statelessness and Conservation: Exploring the Implications of an International Governance Agenda, 19 Tilburg L. Rev. 81, 85 (2014).

187 Acciaioli, Brunt & Clifton, supra note 183, at 236–37.

188 Sather, supra note 185, at 35.

189 Acciaioli, Brunt & Clifton, supra note 183, at 242–43.

190 See Spiro, supra note 26, at 721–23.

191 See Shachar, supra note 149, at 242, 246.

192 See the discussion in Peter Spiro, Cash-for-Passports and the End of Citizenship, in Debating Transformations of National Citizenship 17 (Rainer Bauböck ed., 2018). These schemes have been criticized by, among others, the European Commission, which launched infringement proceedings against Malta and Cyprus, two of the states with investor citizenship schemes.

193 See Lori, supra note 82.

194 Id. at 203–04.

195 Id. at 212, 231.

196 Id. at 6–9, 196, 213.

197 Id. at 12.

198 Zahra Albarazi & Yoana Kuzmova, Trafficking in (Non)-Citizenship in Kuwait and the UAE, in Routledge Handbook of Citizenship in the Middle East and North Africa 349, 357 (Roel Meijer, James N. Sater & Zahra R. Babar eds., 2020).

199 Amnesty International, The State of the World's Human Rights 378 (2021), available at

200 Lori, supra note 82, at 37.

201 See Daniel Kanstroom, Afterword, in Citizenship in Question, supra note 165, at 241–42.

202 See Wendy Hunter & Robert Brill, “Documents, Please”: Advances in Social Protection and Birth Certification in the Developing World, 68 World Pol. 191, 202 (2016); Jane Caplan & John Torpey, Introduction, in Documenting Individual Identity, supra note 12, at 1, 5.

203 Caplan & Torpey, Introduction, supra note 202, at 6.

204 See Timothy Longman, Identity Cards, Ethnic Self-Perception, and Genocide in Rwanda, in Documenting Individual Identity, supra note 12, at 345, 346–47 (on the relationship between colonial Belgian documentation practices and construction of ethnic identity in Rwanda and its eventual role in the Rwandan genocide).

205 See text at note 133 supra.

206 Jelka Zorn, From Erased and Excluded to Active Participants in Slovenia, in Statelessness and the Benefits of Citizenship: A Comparative Study 50, 52 (Brad K. Blitz & Maureen Lynch eds., 2009).

207 Brad K. Blitz, Statelessness and the Social (De)Construction of Citizenship: Political Restructuring and Ethnic Discrimination in Slovenia, 5 J. Hum. Rts. 453, 462–63 (2006).

208 Krūma, supra note 86, at 9.

209 Constitutional Court Case 2004-15-0106, Official Gazette No. 40, Mar. 9, 2005.

211 UN Hum. Rts. Comm., Views Adopted by the Committee Under Article 5 (4) of the Optional Protocol, Concerning Communication No. 2918/2016, para. 2.4, Comm. No. 2918/2016, CCPR/C/130/D/2918/2016 (Jan. 20, 2021).

212 Id., paras. 2.1–2.2.

213 Id., para. 8.5

214 Id., para. 2.9.

215 Id., paras. 8.3, 8.5.

216 See Laura Bingham & Jelle Klass, A Victory for Human Rights in Zhao v. the Netherlands (the “Denny Case”): Nationality from Birth, Without Exceptions, EUI Global Citizenship Observatory (Jan. 19, 2021), at

217 Jane Caplan, Illegibility: Reading and Insecurity in History, Law and Government, 68 Hist. Workshop J. 99, 103 (2009).

218 Id.

219 Caplan, supra note 217, at 104.

220 Id.

221 Kamal Sadiq, Limits of Legal Citizenship: Narratives from South and Southeast Asia, in Statelessness and the Benefits of Citizenship, supra note 206, at 165–66. In their recent article, Michelle Foster and Jade Roberts also discuss the phenomenon of “documentary citizenship” and its politicization by the state to enact exclusion from within in the context of the NRC exercise in India. See Foster & Roberts, supra note 6, at 228.

222 Sahana Ghosh & Radhika Moral, The Slipperiness of Documents: Notes from India's Eastern Borderlands (2020), at

223 See Talha Abdul Rahman, Identifying the “Outsider”: An Assessment of Foreigner Tribunals in the Indian State of Assam, 2 Statelessness & Citizenship Rev. 112, 113–18 (2020).

224 See Praveen Donthi, How Assam's Supreme Court-mandated NRC Project Is Targeting and Detaining Bengali Muslims, Breaking Families, Caravan (July 1, 2018).

225 See Kamal Sadiq, Paper Citizens: How Illegal Immigrants Acquire Citizenship in Developing Countries 26–28 (2008).

226 Rahman, supra note 223, at 115.

227 Ditilekha Sharma, Determination of Citizenship Through Lineage in the Assam NRC is Inherently Exclusionary, 54 Econ. & Pol. Weekly (2019).

228 Ghosh & Moral, supra note 222.

229 Rahman, supra note 223, at 123.

230 Malini Sur, In the Name of Indian Citizenship? Criminalizing Statelessness at the India-Bangladesh Border, U. Oxford Faculty Law Blog (2020), at

231 Rahman, supra note 223, at 128–36.

232 Arijit Sen & Leah Verghese, Weaponising Citizenship in India, U. Oxford Faculty Law Blog (2020), at

233 See, e.g., World Bank, Inclusive and Trusted Digital ID Can Unlock Opportunities for the World's Most Vulnerable (Aug. 14, 2019), at

234 Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Initiative for Social and Economic Rights, & Unwanted Witness, Chased Away and Left to Die: How a National Security Approach to Uganda's National Digital ID Has Led to Wholesale Exclusion of Women and Older Persons (2021), available at

235 See Eva Hayes de Kalaf, Legal Identity, Race, and Belonging in the Dominican Republic: From Citizen to Foreigner (2021).

236 Lori, supra note 82, at 201–03.

237 See Flaim, supra note 165, at 148.

238 See, e.g., Committee on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, Concluding Observations: Macedonia, para. 32, UN Doc. E/C.12/MKD/CO/1 (Jan. 15, 2008) (asking Macedonia to remove administrative obstacles to the acquisition of citizenship by the Roma); CERD, Concluding Observations: Croatia, para. 17, UN Doc. CERD/C/HRV/CO/8 (Mar. 24, 2009) (asking Croatia to remove administrative barriers and assist persons such as those of Roma, Serb, or Bosniak origin, who have limited access to mandatory documentation); CERD, Concluding Observations on the Thirteenth to Fifteenth Periodic Reports of Suriname, para. 20, UN Doc. CERD/C/SUR/CO/13-15 (Aug. 28, 2015) (calling on Suriname to remove administrative barriers and discriminatory practices to prevent statelessness, particularly in relation to birth registration).

239 The Nubian Community in Kenya v. The Republic of Kenya, Comm. 317/2006, 17th Extraordinary Sess., Feb. 19–28, 2015.

240 Samantha Balaton-Chrimes, Indigeneity and Kenya's Nubians: Seeking Equality in Difference or Sameness?, 51 J. Mod. Afr. Stud. 331, 332, 338 (2013).

241 Abraham Korir Sing'Oei, Promoting Citizenship in Kenya: The Nubian Case, in Statelessness and the Benefits of Citizenship: A Comparative Study, supra note 206, at 37, 38–39.

242 Id. at 39.

243 Balaton-Chrimes, supra note 240, at 339–40.

244 Wendy Hunter, Undocumented Nationals: Between Statelessness and Citizenship 48–49 (2019).

245 Id. at 50.

246 Nubian Community in Kenya, supra note 239, paras. 133–35.

247 Id., paras 148–51.

248 See Sing'Oei, supra note 241, at 42–43; Manby, supra note 70, at 193.

249 Bettina Ng'weno & L. Obura Aloo, Irony of Citizenship: Descent, National Belonging, and Constitutions in the Postcolonial African State, 53 L. & Soc. Rev. 141, 166–67 (2019).

250 Manby, supra note 70, at 184.

251 Ng'weno & Aloo, supra note 249, at 167.

252 See Abdi Latif Dahir, Kenya's New Digital IDs May Exclude Millions of Minorities, N.Y. Times (Jan. 28, 2020), at

253 Lori, supra note 110, at 132.

254 See Linda Bosniak, The Citizen and the Alien: Dilemmas of Contemporary Membership 102 (2006) (noting how “citizenship talk . . . trades in both universalism and particularism”).

255 For a masterful recent attempt to develop principles that respond to this question, see Rainer Bauböck, Democratic Inclusion: A Pluralist Theory of Citizenship, in Democratic Inclusion: Rainer Bauböck in Dialogue 3 (2017).

256 This is an amalgam of principles for democratic inclusion proposed by Rainer Bauböck. These principles are both complex and contested in citizenship theory (see Democratic Inclusion: Rainer Bauböck in Dialogue, supra note 255). This Article does not propose to enter into these debates or develop a new political theory of citizenship. Rather, these principles are put forward as intuitively appealing grounds for inclusion that moreover resemble international law's emphasis on a genuine and effective link for the attribution of nationality.

257 See Bauböck, supra note 255, at 66.

258 Council of Europe Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession, supra note 56, Art. 5; ILC Draft Articles, supra note 57, Art. 5.

259 See Ayelet Shachar, The Multiple Sites of Justice: A Reply, in The Shifting Border, supra note 110, at 242 (making a similar argument in the context of migration control through the legal device of “shifting borders”).

260 Cohen, supra note 78, at 11.

261 See id.

262 Jacqueline Stevens, Introduction, in Citizenship in Question, supra note 165, at 1, 3–4.

263 Barbara Yngvesson & Susan Bibler Coutin, Backed by Papers: Undoing Persons, Histories, and Return, 33 Am. Ethnologist 177, 184 (2006).

264 Jacqueline Bhabha, The Politics of Evidence: Roma Citizenship Deficits in Europe, in Citizenship in Question, supra note 165, at 43, 45–46.

265 See id.

266 See, e.g., Biao v. Denmark, App. No. 38590/10, para. 114 (Eur. Ct. H.R. May 24, 2016) (interpreting the ECHR); Kambole v. United Republic of Tanzania, App. No. 018/2018, Judgment, paras. 69–72 (Afr. Ct. H.P.R. July 15, 2020) (interpreting the African Charter).

267 See Hugh Collins & Tarunabh Khaitan, Indirect Discrimination Law: Controversies and Critical Questions, in Foundations of Indirect Discrimination Law 1, 2 (Hugh Collins & Tarunabh Khaitan eds., 2018).

268 See Tarunabh Khaitan, Indirect Discrimination, in The Routledge Handbook of the Ethics of Discrimination 30 (Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen ed., 2017).

269 Victor Madrigal-Borloz, The Theory of Indirect Discrimination: Application to the Lived Realities of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Other Gender Diverse (LGBT) Persons, 34 Harv. Hum. Rts. L.J. 295 (2021).

270 Niels Petersen, The Implicit Taxonomy of the Equality Jurisprudence of the UN Human Rights Committee, 34 Leiden J. Int'l L. 421, 429–430 (2021).

271 See Deborah Hellman, Indirect Discrimination and the Duty to Avoid Compounding Injustice, in Foundations of Indirect Discrimination Law, supra note 267, at 105, 105–06 (discussing disagreements between theorists as to the distinction between direct and indirect discrimination).

272 Collins and Khaitan, supra note 267, at 25–26.

273 See Gerald L. Neuman, Questions of Indirect Discrimination on the Basis of Religion, 34 Harv. Hum. Rts. L.J. 177, 180 (2021).

274 See Indirect Discrimination and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: October 2020 Workshop Proceedings, at 18–19 (Harvard Human Rights Program Research Working Paper Series).

275 D.H. v. The Czech Republic, 2007-IV Eur. Ct. H.R., para. 196.

276 See Mathias Möschel, The Strasbourg Court and Indirect Race Discrimination: Going Beyond the Education Domain, 80 Mod. L. Rev. 121, 124–125 (2017).

277 See Samantha Besson, Evolutions in Non-discrimination Law within the ECHR and the ESC Systems: It Takes Two to Tango in the Council of Europe, 60 Am. J. Comp. L. 147, 167–71 (2012).

278 See Barbara Havelková, Judicial Scepticism of Discrimination at the ECtHR, in Foundations of Indirect Discrimination Law, supra note 267, at 83, 84, 98–99.

279 Id. at 98.

280 Id. at 101.

281 See Collins & Khaitan, supra note 267, at 21–25 (discussing the distinction between the two categories of discrimination in a number of different jurisdictions).

282 Open Society Justice Initiative, Strategic Litigation Impacts: Insights from Global Experience, at 25 (2018).

283 Adam Weiss, The Essence of Strategic Litigation, in Strategic Litigation: Begriff und Praxis 27, 28 (Alexander Graser & Christian Helmrich eds., 2019).

284 See, e.g., Cathryn Costello, Strategic Litigation to Vindicate the Rights of Refugees and Migrants: Pyrrhic Perils and Painstaking Progress, in Legal Cases That Changed Ireland (Ivana Bacik & Mary Rogan eds., 2016).

285 See, e.g., Daniel Thym, The End of Human Rights Dynamism? Judgments of the ECtHR on “Hot Returns” and Humanitarian Visas as a Focal Point of Contemporary European Asylum Law and Policy, 32 Int'l J. Refugee L. 569 (2020) (analyzing the European courts’ recent turn away from rights-enhancing judgments in the context of migration litigation in light of the changing political context and perceptions of their legitimacy).

286 See Heidi Nichols Haddad, The Hidden Hands of Justice: NGOs, Human Rights, and International Courts 61–62, 104–05 (2018) (surveying the types of NGOs that typically engage in strategic litigation at the ECtHR and the IACtHR).

287 Open Society Justice Initiative, Strategic Litigation Impacts: Roma School Desegregation, at 72 (2016) (quoting a Czech Ministry of Justice official on the impact of the ECtHR's ruling in DH on the Czech legal landscape).

288 See Moritz Baumgärtel, Demanding Rights: Europe's Supranational Courts and the Dilemma of Migrant Vulnerability 134 (2019).

289 See Haddad, supra note 286, at 105; Strategic Litigation Impacts, supra note 282, at 61.

290 Freek van der Vet, Transitional Justice in Chechnya: NGO Political Advocacy for Implementing Chechen Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, 38 Rev. Cent. & E. Eur. L. 363, 376 (2013).

291 Alpha Sesay & Amon Dongo, Côte d'Ivoire's Statelessness Problem: Utilizing Multiple Tools to Support Implementation of Judgments, in Implementing Human Rights Decisions: Reflections, Successes, and New Directions 29 (2021).

292 See Baumgärtel, supra note 288, at 129 (arguing, in the context of migration, that even cases that are destined to fail may turn into “successes without victories”).

293 Nikolas Feith Tan & Thomas Gameltoft-Hansen, A Topographical Approach to Accountability for Human Rights Violations in Migration Control, 21 German L.J. 335, 337 (2020) (outlining the contours of a topographical approach to strategic litigation).

294 Id.

295 See Priya Pillai, State Responsibility for Citizenship in India: Lessons from Myanmar, and the CERD Inter-State Communication Mechanism, Opinio Juris (Dec. 21, 2019), at

297 Staples, supra note 103, at 147.

298 Other measures involve resolving existing situations of statelessness, granting protection to stateless migrants, preventing childhood statelessness and loss of nationality on discriminatory grounds and in cases of state succession. Global Action Plan to End Statelessness, supra note 7.

299 Global Compact on Refugees, § 2.8, UN Doc. A/73/12 (Part II) (Aug. 2, 2018).

300 See Samantha Balaton-Chrimes, Statelessness, Identity Cards and Citizenship as Status in the Case of the Nubians of Kenya, 18 Citizenship Stud. 15, 18, 20 (2014).

301 UN General Assembly, Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Goal 16.9, UN Doc. A/RES/70/1 (Oct. 21, 2015).

302 See Bronwen Manby, The Sustainable Development Goals and “Legal Identity for All”: “First, Do No Harm, 139 World Dev. 2, 3 (2021) (summarizing the economics and policy literature on the benefits of identity documentation).

303 David Lyon, Identifying Citizens: ID Cards as Surveillance 3 (2009).

304 See Rachel E. Rosenbloom, From the Outside Looking In: U.S. Passports in the Borderlands, in Citizenship in Question, supra note 165, at 132, 140.

305 See Kristy A. Belton, Rooted Displacement: The Paradox of Belonging Among Stateless People, 19 Citizenship Stud. 907 (2016).

306 Hayes de Kalaf, supra note 235.

307 Eve Hayes de Kalaf, Making Foreign: Legal Identity, Social Policy and the Contours of Belonging in the Contemporary Dominican Republic, in Welfare and Social Protection in Contemporary Latin America 101, 107 (Gibran Cruz-Martinez ed., 2019).

308 Holly Ritson, “We Are Not Data Points”: Highlights from our Conversation on the Kenyan Digital ID System, NYU Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (Nov. 9, 2020), at

309 Nubian Rights Forum & 2 others v. Attorney General & 6 others; Child Welfare Society & 9 Others (Interested Parties) [2020] eKLR, at

310 Open Society Justice Initiative, Litigation, Nubian Rights Forum et al. v. the Honourable Attorney General of Kenya et al. (“NIIMS Case”), at

311 Manby, supra note 302, at 7.

312 See Bronwen Manby, Naturalization in African States: Its Past and Potential Future, 25 Citizenship Stud. 514, 525 (2021).

313 See Christoph Sperfeldt, Legal Identity in the Sustainable Development Agenda: Actors, Perspectives and Trends in an Emerging Field of Research, 26 Int'l J. Hum. Rts. 1, 14–16 (2021).

314 See Gibney, supra note 27, at 53–55 (on the various reasons motivating states to intentionally create statelessness).

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