Stateless protections as a remedy for protection gaps in Jordan and India

Afghani restaurants at Lajpat Nagar, Delhi, established to cater to the Afghan population (Anwesha Ghosh)

Afghani restaurants at Lajpat Nagar, Delhi, established to cater to the Afghan population (Anwesha Ghosh)

MIRIAM ACED is a PhD candidate in International Conflict Management as well as a Research Associate to the Franz Haniel Chair at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt, Germany. Her doctoral research concerns the labelling of Palestinians in the Middle East and organisational change within UNRWA. She holds an LLM degree in International Law with International Relations from the University of Kent and an MA degree in International Business and French from Heriot-Watt University. She is also active in several networks and activist groups relating to critical border and migration studies, anti-Muslim racism and feminism. 

ANWESHA GHOSH is undertaking doctoral research at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, University of Erfurt under the DAAD International Conflict Management Programme. Her current research analyses how the lack of national asylum legislation in India has affected conflict displaced Afghans. She received her M.Phil from the Institute of Foreign Policy Studies, Kolkata and holds double Masters in Modern History and Development Studies from University of Calcutta and University of Rome La Sapienza, respectively. Her book, A Leap Forward: Capacity Building, Education and India-Afghanistan Cooperation, was published in 2014. 

 

Abstract

Migration and asylum have taken on a new character and more communities are finding themselves legally in limbo. Taking the examples of Gazans in Jordan and Hindu and Sikh Afghans in India, the authors demonstrate that expanding the UN statelessness regime to cover not only de jure statelessness but also de facto statelessness (when one possesses a nationality, but lacks an effective nationality) would serve as a solution to the plight of communities who have been residing in host states for a generation or more. Further, they argue that the exclusionary exceptions found in the Stateless Convention (as well as the 1951 Refugee Convention) severely compromise the goal of the Stateless Convention’s drafters. The authors assert that human rights principles and established international norms on protection should override these protection exceptions.

Key Words: Stateless, refugee, Afghans, Palestinians, India, Jordan, international law, effective nationality, religious minorities

Introduction

More than sixty years ago, the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (“1951 Refugee Convention”) was ratified, defining the refugee and setting out rights and protections for such persons. To date, the 1951 Refugee Convention has 145 State Parties. It underwent one amendment through the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (“1967 Protocol”), which “removed geographical and temporal limits of the 1951 Refugee Convention,” rendering its coverage global.[1] Due to the particular environment and time in which the 1951 Refugee Convention was drafted–in the aftermath of World War II–several other more fitting regional instruments were later drafted in order to complement the 1951 Refugee Convention, such as the Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (Organization of African Unity) and the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees. In addition, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) was created in the Near East a few days after the UNHCR, with a specific mandate focused upon Palestinians.

Despite the existence of numerous international and regional treaties relating to asylum and refugees, there are still many unprotected persons who fall through the legal gaps of established refugee treaties. Many situations exist in which groups of individuals (or their descendants) have fled their conflict-ridden home countries but cannot prove they are refugees under Article 1 of the 1951 Refugee Convention.[2] This has led to an increase in creating alternatives to refugee status that may provide protection, such as extended temporary asylum or subsidiary protection in the European Union.[3] Those persons not protected under an alternative refugee label that are unable to return to their home country due to either a fear of being persecuted or because they will not be admitted back–as is the case with Palestinians wishing to return to or enter the area formerly known as British Mandate Palestine–find themselves legally in limbo. As a result, they often live in precarious situations in which access to fundamental human rights is denied.

We argue that the right to a nationality that results in protection (an effective nationality[4]) is an international custom, codified in a host of human rights accords. In this paper we further argue that individuals not in possession of an effective nationality should be considered stateless and receive the accompanying protection and relief generally provided to stateless persons. The international statelessness regime, much like the refugee regime, however, excludes certain communities. The importance of the right to an effective nationality should override the exclusionary convention exceptions that exist in the aforementioned international and regional treaties, namely the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Stateless Convention. Denying people access to this right leaves unacceptable protections gaps for both de jure and de facto statelessness that are a perversion of the intentions of international human rights principles.

In building these arguments, we will first explore the laws on both de jure and de facto statelessness, as well as their relationship with refugee law. Following this, we will analyse the merit of according equal protection to de facto stateless persons as that which is provided to de jure stateless persons. Finally, we will bring forth two examples of ‘in-between’ communities, one which we argue should be able to claim protection as persons of de jure statelessness (non-refugee Gazan[5] Palestinians in Jordan), and one which we argue should be able claim protection as persons of de facto statelessness (Afghan Hindus and Sikhs in India). We have used a number of primary[6] and secondary[7] sources, both of which guided our legal analysis of the comparison of protection gaps in the two countries.

Conceptualising Statelessness under International Law

A nationality, a genuine link between an individual and a state, is one of the most fundamental possessions an individual should have. Individuals are assured an ambit of human rights and protections by virtue of an effective nationality. Without this right to citizenship, individuals are often rendered legally invisible and “lack the mechanisms to access their rights.”[8] The right to a nationality is a matter of customary international law and is included in a host of human rights documents and treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art. 15), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (art. 24), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (art. 5(d)(iii)), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (art. 9) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (art. 7), among others.

The idea of protections tied to an effective nationality was first codified at the beginning of the 20th century when the international community took action in relation to stateless individuals and refugees (sometimes one and the same). After the Second World War, two UN instruments dealing directly with statelessness were put into place: the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (“Stateless Convention”) and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (“1961 Convention”). The former was initially meant to be drafted along with the 1951 Refugee Convention as a protocol, but time constraints and the need to draft a convention to deal with the refugee crisis in Europe led the drafters to leave out the protocol and consider it at a later time.[9]

As its titles suggests, the Stateless Convention aims to “regulate and improve the status of stateless persons,”[10] and protects individuals not considered “as a national by any State under the operation of its law,”[11] otherwise known as de jure stateless. This means that individuals who have no nationality–no legal tie between themselves and the state–are considered stateless and thus should have special international protection. The remainder of the provisions in the Stateless Convention are very similar to those of the 1951 Refugee Convention. They set forth a host of rights provided to stateless individuals and the obligations the host states have toward these individuals. These rights include, amongst others, the right to be issued identity and travel documents,[12] and the same rights as any other alien (i.e. foreign national) in the territory to (self) employment[13], the right to elementary education,[14] and the right to labour legislation and social security[15].

The 1961 Convention aims to reduce cases of statelessness. One of its most important provisions is Article 1(1), which stipulates that states party to the Convention must grant nationality to individuals born on the territory (or after the receipt of an application) if they would otherwise become stateless.[16] Article 9 is also important, stating that no Contracting State may “deprive [a] person or group of persons of their nationality on racial, ethnic, religious or political grounds.”[17]

The creation of the statelessness regime was coterminous with that of the refugee regime. At the time of the drafting of these protection regimes, the international community believed that it had largely addressed situations in which people had an ineffective nationality, or no protection. They drafted the 1951 Refugee Convention for persons who were refugees and stateless and the Stateless Convention for persons who were stateless, yet not refugees. When an individual is considered both a refugee under Article 1 of the 1951 Refugee Convention and stateless under Article 1 of the 1954 Stateless Convention, their protection will be ensured under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Although the Stateless Convention definition of a stateless person is internationally recognised and considered as a matter of customary international law by the International Law Commission[18], it is largely an unqualified legal definition. Batchelor writes of the gaps in international protections that:

“Quality and attributes of citizenship are not included, even implicitly, in the definition. Human rights principles relating to citizenship are not delineated…This definition is not one of quality, simply one of fact.”[19]

In addition, there was wide consensus at the time of drafting these legal instruments, particularly at the 1959 UN Conference on the Elimination or Reduction of Future Statelessness, that de facto stateless persons were refugees. Batchelor continues:

“This is patently clear from the statements of several delegates at the 1959 Conference, one of whom indicated he ‘did not understand what stateless persons de facto were, if they were not refugees’.”[20]

In other words, although government representatives thought they had addressed the range of problems arising from an ineffective nationality, they had made a paramount mistake. They did not qualify the definition of a national with its effectiveness, most likely because nationality was traditionally thought of as concomitant with protection from a state.[21] The result was that only de jure stateless persons were covered under the Stateless Convention and the 1961 Convention, and “persons outside the country of their nationality who are unable or, for valid reasons, are unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country” were not.[22] Thus, individuals who do not categorically fit the definition of a refugee or of a de jure stateless person are left in a legal grey zone.

One could argue that notions of statelessness prior to the signing of the 1951 Refugee Convention and subsequent conventions did make allowances for the international protection of de facto stateless people because the notion of ‘non-protection’ from a state was often the catalyst for protection. The UNHCR has encouraged states to protect de facto stateless individuals in its recently published Handbook on Protection of Statelessness.[23] In addition, the Final Act of the Stateless Convention makes implicit reference to de facto stateless persons. It recommends that if a state recognises that a de facto stateless person is within their territory, this state should “consider sympathetically, the possibility of according to that person the treatment which the Convention accords to stateless persons” (thus offering de jure stateless protection) [24] Further, the Final Act of the 1961 Convention “[r]ecommends that persons who are stateless de facto should as far as possible be treated as stateless de jure to enable them to acquire an effective nationality” (emphasis added).[25]

In addition to individuals who legally have a nationality but do not enjoy protection from their state, thus having an ‘in-between status,’ there is another community of people who lack protection–those that fall within the exclusion clause of the Stateless Convention. This applies to:

“persons who are at present receiving from organs and agencies of the [UN] other than [UNHCR] protection or assistance so long as they are receiving such protection or assistance.”[26]

This provision was put into place in order to avoid double protection and assistance and currently relates only to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Keeping in mind the rising number of unprotected individuals and communities who do not fit neatly into a legal category for protection, the authors suggest taking a pragmatic approach to international protection. Presenting this approach will involve analysing two communities which are covered by neither the 1951 Refugee Convention nor the Stateless Convention. Non-refugee Gazans in Jordan are experiencing de jure statelessness, but fall into the exclusion clause, and Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are experiencing de facto statelessness. Both communities lack effective nationalities and the rights and protection accorded to them under the stateless conventions, which would aid integration into their host countries and assist in putting an end to their precarious situation.

Non-refugee Gazan Palestinians in Jordan: De Jure Statelessness

Approximately 750,000[27] Palestinians fled the area previously known as Mandate Palestine due to events resulting from the 1948 Arab-Israeli Conflict. Palestinians fled mainly to the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Until 1967, the Gaza Strip was administered by Egypt and the West Bank by Jordan. Those who fit the refugee definition[28] set forth by UNRWA were registered with the agency and were (and are) able to benefit from its services (mainly education, health, relief and social services). In 1967, the Six-Day War led Israel to occupy the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, and Palestinians in those areas were forced to flee (some for the second time).

This paper focuses on a particular minority within this group: ex-Gazan Palestinians who are not considered registered 1948-refugees[29], who fled to Jordan and who are not considered refugees by UNRWA, and who do not have access to citizenship.[30] These non-refugee Gazans are not considered refugees by the international community, but rather “non-registered persons displaced as a result of the 1967 and subsequent hostilities”.[31] Although this group does receive some limited services from UNRWA, the General Assembly made it clear in 1967 and subsequent resolutions that the Agency should only “continue to provide humanitarian assistance, as far as practicable, on an emergency basis, and as a temporary measure[32] (emphasis added).

Jordan’s Law No. 6 on Nationality[33], as amended in 1987, declares that a person is only afforded nationality if they are born to a Jordanian father, or, in cases where the father is stateless or his nationality is unclear, if born to a Jordanian mother. This leaves the non-refugee Gazan community (and other Palestinians for that matter) in a position of de jure statelessness because they are not eligible for Jordanian citizenship. Ex-Gazans also lack access to Egyptian citizenship because the Egyptian Nationality Law, in the period between the 1948 Arab-Israeli Conflict and the 1967 Six-Day War when Egypt administered and controlled the Gaza Strip, did not allow it. The nationality law enacted through the British Mandate of Palestine ceased to exist with the creation of the State of Israel in May 1948.

Non-refugee Gazans residing in Jordan without citizenship are eligible for temporary passports, renewable every one to two years.[34] However, these Jordanian passports only serve as residency permits and travel documents, not as proof of nationality. In addition, the cost of passport renewal for Palestinians is more than double the cost paid by Jordanian nationals,[35] and renewal is subject to approval by the General Intelligence Department (GID).[36] As a consequence, non-refugee Gazans’ access to public services, such as free primary[37] and secondary education and affordable healthcare, and access to work in the public and private sectors, is either non-existent or severely diminished. The ability to travel outside of Jordan is difficult for similar reasons; passports are only temporary, they must be renewed at a high cost, and they are issued and renewed at the government’s discretion, sometimes only granted on personal grounds, such as marriage to a Jordanian.[38]

Despite their de jure stateless status, non-refugee Gazans are excluded from statelessness protection due to the exclusion clause. The drafters of the Stateless Convention envisioned a quick solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and thought the agencies tasked with finding a durable solution to the conflict, and providing relief and social services to refugees, would do the job.[39] As Guy S. Goodwin-Gill explains:

“None of the participants in the drafting sessions [of the 1951 Convention] then taking place would likely have predicted that 50 years later, Palestinians would still be without a solution, or that their entitlement to protection would continue to be disputed.”[40]

Given the coterminous creation of the statelessness and refugee regime, this explanation can be reasonably applied to the Stateless Convention as well.

The agency tasked with protection, the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP), was established in 1948 by the General Assembly to “facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation.”[41] This Commission is no longer functioning due to a lack of international will. UNRWA does not have an explicit protection mandate and, as its full name suggests, it was created in order to provide relief to refugees, not to find durable, permanent solutions to protracted displacement situations. Susan Akram and Guy Goodwin-Gill hold that “[t]he narrow assistance provided by UNRWA contrasts markedly with the protection provided under the UNHCR Statute and the 1951 Refugee Convention.”[42] Therefore, the concern that Palestinians would be privileged with double protection is not substantiated. The result is the opposite: they are not eligible for any real protection.

An Afghan refugee in India selling Afghan nun (Anwesha Ghosh)

An Afghan refugee in India selling Afghan naan (Anwesha Ghosh)

Afghans in India: De Facto Statelessness

A combination of structural failure and the rise of Islamic fundamentalist ideology in post-Soviet Afghanistan led to a war of ethnic cleansing after the Soviets left the country in 1989. Religious non-Muslim minorities like Sikhs and Hindus were systematically targeted, forcing many of them to flee Afghanistan. Hindus and Sikhs found incentives to seek asylum in India, born of the ethnic and religious similarities to a segment of the Indian population.

India is neither a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention nor the 1967 Protocol, and the Indian government does not officially recognise the Afghan community as refugees. In fact, India lacks overarching legislation to deal with matters pertaining to refugees and asylum seekers in general. This leaves the government to deal with refugees on an ad hoc basis. Currently, the government recognises only Tibetans and Sri Lankan Tamils as ‘refugees’ because recognition of these communities is politically convenient.[43] The UNHCR recognises and offers protection to certain communities like the Burmese, Afghan and Somali refugees and asylum seekers in India. It runs various programmes aimed at providing a favourable protection environment, basic needs and services, and also to encourage community participation and self-management in order to find durable solutions to problems.

It is difficult to estimate the exact number of Afghan refugees living in India, as such a count largely requires statistics tied to the recognised ‘refugee’ definition. According to UNHCR New Delhi, India hosts 10,442 refugees and 1,107 asylum seekers from Afghanistan, mostly concentrated in and around the capital city.[44] Reports suggest that UNHCR assists over 24,000 urban refugees in India in total, rendering Afghans one of the most represented communities receiving UNHCR support and protection.[45] Those under UNHCR protection have access to ID cards recognising them as refugees.[46] UNHCR statistics and other reports have also continually confirmed that the religious make-up of Afghan refugees in India is predominantly Sikh and Hindu.[47]

Refugee status determination in India is largely carried out by the UNHCR, after which the Indian government may recognise those who have been issued UNHCR Refugee certificates. Given that UNHCR-recognised refugee status is the only legal protection a refugee may have against deportation or arbitrary detention, the scope and reach of the UNHCR to effectively protect people in India has been very limited. A holistic focus on the deficiencies of the existing UN structure is beyond the scope of this paper. However, literature on the subject attributes the UNHCR’s inadequate scope to a lack of sufficient funding for their India office, as well as asylum seekers’ limited awareness of the resources and existing facilities available to them.[48]

In the case of communities protected under UNHCR’s mandate, refugee status determination (“RSD”) is largely carried out by the UNHCR. Refugee certificates issued to those recognised as refugees, after RSD procedures, are subsequently recognised by the Indian government.

Despite India’s acceptance of the principle of non-refoulement, those fleeing persecution within Indian borders continue to be treated like economic migrants, rather than as a special category of persons in need of international protection. Because no asylum law exists, issues related to refugees and asylum seekers can only be found in Act No. 31 of 1946—the Foreigners Act. However, even this document fails to recognise asylum seekers and refugees as a special category of non-citizens who should be governed differently on account of their special circumstances. The Extradition Act of 1962 is supposed to provide some protection to refugees facing extradition but, more often than not, the refugees’ removal falls under the category of expulsion rather than extradition.[49] In these situations, the only protection imprisoned individuals have against prolonged detention and deportation (in some cases refoulement) is the UNHCR, which advocates for the release of individuals who had, prior to their detention, submitted an application for asylum.

We argue that the Afghan Hindu and Sikh communities in India are de facto stateless. In theory, they do have a nationality, the Afghan nationality. However, this particular group does not enjoy an effective nationality, or protection, in Afghanistan. Those religious minorities who came to India after 1992 were victims of widespread discrimination and fled after they had lost virtually everything (property, money, businesses).[50] Therefore, for most, returning to Afghanistan is not an option. In India, the path to gaining full protection is only possible through citizenship. Foreigners lack access to basic rights (such as the right to an education, the right to public employment, protection against arrest and detention in certain cases), which Indian citizens are entitled to by virtue of the Indian Constitution.[51]

The lack of an effective Afghan or Indian nationality, coupled with the cultural and ethnic ties that led Afghan Sikhs and Hindus to seek refuge in India, may lead one to assume that naturalisation would be the best solution. However, due to a complicated bureaucratic processes and bottlenecks in the system, the naturalisation solution can only be realised in the long-term.[52] The Citizenship Act of 2005 stipulates that citizenship can only be acquired by those who have ordinarily (legally) been resident in India for twelve years.[53] Establishing lawful residence can prove difficult for persons who entered India irregularly, especially for those who were fleeing persecution. Asylum seekers without proper documentation have only one option for proving their residence status; registration and subsequent refugee recognition by the UNHCR (after which the UNHCR can assist them with bureaucratic procedures). Children born in India to foreign parents also have to satisfy the residence timeframe, as Indian nationality law largely follows the jus sanguinis (citizenship by right of blood) principle. Thus, one could theoretically be eligible for naturalisation on one’s 12th birthday, but birth registration practices in India are generally very low.[54] If a family is not aware of the paramount importance of receiving a birth certificate, or a certificate is not issued for other reasons, access to the Indian nationality might be impossible.

Those unable to gain protection via the UNHCR are extremely vulnerable, as neither the host country nor the international community demonstrate accountability. Due to lack of capacity or willingness, both the home and the host countries have failed in their moral (and arguably legal) obligation to defend the rights of persecuted and oppressed communities, rendering them de facto stateless.

Broadening the Statelessness Regime

The goal of this paper has been to point out deficiencies in international laws addressing refugees and stateless persons. These deficiencies result in many communities living in various in limbo legal situations, rendering them susceptible to human rights violations. We have presented examples of two communities which have sought asylum in different host countries. Neither of these communities is eligible for protection under the international refugee regime tied to the 1951 Refugee Convention, either because their case falls within the Convention’s exclusion clause (Article 1(D)) or because the community does not meet all requirements for eligibility. In addition, neither of these communities has access to protection under the statelessness regime because they either fall within an exclusion clause or because they do possess a nationality, but not an effective nationality.

Many communities around the world have fallen victim to discriminatory national citizenship laws. In some cases, the only way to gain citizenship is through a father who is a national of the host country in question, as is the case with Palestinians in Jordan. In other cases, such as that of individuals who have fled to India due to persecution or generalised violence, one has to legally reside in the host country for more than a decade in order to be eligible for naturalisation.

It is difficult to disagree with the notion that the goal of the Stateless Convention was to ensure international protection to otherwise unprotected communities. The right to a nationality and the principle of non-refoulement are clearly established international human rights customs that are important for situations in which people flee persecution. There is a growing recognition that both the refugee and stateless regimes do not sufficiently address all people who need protection.[55] We follow the logic that there are certain fundamental human rights which should override provisions like exclusions to the Stateless Convention. When these exclusions keep individuals from gaining access to rights, which are part and parcel of the Stateless Convention’s goals, this legal instrument loses its worth.

The widening of the stateless regime could serve as a practical solution to these communities’ ineffective nationality. The drafting history of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Stateless Convention consistently refer to the lack of effective nationality as a reason for affording communities international protection. When following the effective nationality principle, one can only conclude that the two communities presented in this paper–those who possess a nationality but cannot make use of it (de facto statelessness) or those that have no legal access to a nationality (de jure statelessness)–should also benefit from the protection offered by the Stateless Convention. Not doing so does “a disservice to the drafters, and…seriously compromise[s] the goal of protection.”[56] 

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—, Statute of the International Law Commission, 21 November 1947, A/RES/174, available at http://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/statute/statute_e.pdf [accessed 10 July 2014].

—, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948, 217 A (III), available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3712c.html  [accessed 10 July 2014].

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, December 2010, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/3b66c2aa10.html [accessed 6 February 2015].

—, Expert Meeting – The Concept of Stateless Persons under International Law (“Prato Conclusions”), May 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ca1ae002.html [accessed 21 April 2015].

—, Handbook on Protection of Stateless Persons, 30 June 2014, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/53b676aa4.html  [accessed 11 July 2014].

—, UNHCR and De Facto Statelessness, April 2010, LPPR/2010/01, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4bbf387d2.html  [accessed 10 July 2014].

United Nations Office of Legal Affairs (OLA), ‘Report on Nationality, Including Statelessness by Mr. Manley O. Hudson, Special Rapporteur’. Accessed April 22, 2015. http://legal.un.org/ilc/documentation/english/a_cn4_50.pdf .

University of Oxford. ‘RSC Wednesday Seminars 2011: International Law and Statelessness in the 21st Century’. Last modified July 2, 2014. http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/rsc-wednesday-seminars-2011-international-law-and-statelessness-21st-century .

UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Consolidated Eligibility and Registration Instructions (CERI), 1 January 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/520cc3634.html %5Baccessed 10 July 2014].

—, ‘In Figures’. Last modified July 4, 2014. Accessed July 2, 2014. http://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/2013042435340.pdf

—, Palestine Refugees, http://www.unrwa.org/palestine-refugees [accessed 6 February 2015] /

US Committee for Refugees and Migrants. ‘World Refugee Survey 2008. Accessed July 4, 2014. http://www.refugees.org/resources/refugee-warehousing/archived-world-refugee- surveys/.

[1] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, December 2010, available at http://www.unhcr.org/3b66c2aa10.html [accessed 6 February 2015].

To date, the 1967 Protocol has 146 State Parties.

[2] This means they cannot prove that they have fled: “owing to [a] well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion’, that they are ‘outside the country of [their] nationality’ and that they are ‘unable or, owing to such fear, [are] unwilling to avail [themselves] of the protection of that country; or [those] who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of former habitual residence as a result of such events, [are] unable or, owing to such fear, [are] unwilling to return to it.” UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 28 July 1951, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189, p. 137, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3be01b964.html .

[3] For a detailed analysis of alternative refugee labels, see: Roger Zetter, ‘More Labels, Fewer Refugees: Remaking the Refugee Label in an Era of Globalization’, Journal of Refugee Studies 20 (2007); Barry N. Stein, ‘The Nature of the Refugee Problem’, in Human Rights and the Protection of Refugees under International Law, ed Alan E. Nash (Halifax: The Institute for Research and Public Policy, 1998), 50.

[4] The term “effective nationality” refers to an individual’s genuine link with a state, which results in the enjoyment of the rights linked to nationality under international law. Therefore, when an individual possesses a nationality, but does not have a state which protects her or him, the individual is said to have an ineffective nationality. The International Law Commission even went as far as to say that simply remedying one’s legal status from not having a nationality to having a nationality, without taking into consideration whether the rights and protection associated with nationality are granted, could result in creating a de facto stateless status.

‘Report on Nationality, Including Statelessness by Mr. Manley O. Hudson, Special Rapporteur’, Viewed 22 April 2015 http://legal.un.org/ilc/documentation/english/a_cn4_50.pdf , 20.

[5] For the purposes of this paper, we will use the term non-refugee Gazans. UNRWA refers to the community of Gazans who fled the Gaza Strip as a result of the 1967 Six-Day-War, who were considered refugees prior to the conflict, as “ex-Gazans”. The Agency refers to all Palestinians (those in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank) who were not refugees prior to the conflict as “Displaced Persons”. Because this paper deals specifically with Gazans who were not refugees prior to the conflict and who fled specifically to Jordan, we feel that Displaced Persons is not specific enough a term for this discussion.

[6] Statistics from UN agencies and human rights organisations, relevant national and international legislation, and interviews (in the case of India).

[7] News articles, reports from human rights organisations, and legal analyses.

[8] Maryellen Fullerton, ‘The Intersection of Statelessness and Refugee Protection in US Asylum Policy’, Journal on Migration and Human Security 2 (2014): 145.

[9] Carol A. Batchelor, ‘Stateless Persons: Some Gaps in International Protection’, International Journal of Refugee Law 7 (1995): 232-259; ‘RSC Wednesday Seminars 2011: International Law and Statelessness in the 21st Century’ last modified 30 June 2014, Viewed 2 July 2014, http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/rsc-wednesday-seminars-2011-international-law-and-statelessness-21st-century .

[10] Lex Takkenberg, The Status of Palestinian Refugees in International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 186.

[11] Art. 1, UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, 28 September 1954, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 360, p. 117, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3840.html .

[12] Art. 28, UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, 28 September 1954, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 360, p. 117, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3840.html .

[13] Art. 17 and 18, UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, 28 September 1954, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 360, p. 117, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3840.html .

[14] Art. 22(1), UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, 28 September 1954, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 360, p. 117, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3840.html .

[15] Art. 24, UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, 28 September 1954, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 360, p. 117, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3840.html .

[16] Art. 1(1), UN General Assembly, Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, 30 August 1961, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 989, p. 175, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b39620.html .

Subsection b of article 1(1), which stipulates an application in order to become a national, was a concession to the delegates of the UN Conference on statelessness who came from countries, whose nationality law is based on the jus sanguinis principle.

Takkenberg, The Status of Palestinian Refugees in International Law, 192.

[17] Art. 9, UN General Assembly, Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, 30 August 1961, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 989, p. 175, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b39620.html .

[18] The International Law Commission is a commission brought to life by the General Assembly in 1947 whose aim is to ‘encourage the progressive development of international law and its codification.’

UN General Assembly, Statute of the International Law Commission, 21 November 1947, A/RES/174, available at http://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/statute/statute_e.pdf [accessed 10 July 2014].

Customary international law, created through state practice and opinio juris (‘the practice is followed out of a belief of legal obligation’), is legally binding even to States not Party to treaties and declarations.

Anthea Elizabeth Roberts, ‘Traditional and Modern Approaches to Customary International Law’, The American Journal of International Law 95 (2001) 757.

[19] Batchelor, ‘Stateless Persons: Some Gaps in International Protection’ 232.

[20] Ibid., 250.

[21] Cited in UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNHCR and De Facto Statelessness, April 2010, LPPR/2010/01, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4bbf387d2.html  [accessed 10 July 2014], 2.

[22] UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNHCR and De Facto Statelessness, April 2010, LPPR/2010/01, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4bbf387d2.html  [accessed 10 July 2014], 61.

This definition is not internationally recognised as is the definition of a (de jure) stateless person.

[23] UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Handbook on Protection of Stateless Persons, 30 June 2014, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/53b676aa4.html  [accessed 11 July 2014], 44.

[24] Final Act of the United Nations Conference on the Status of Stateless Persons, New York, 28 September 1954, United Nations Treaty Series, vol. 360, No. 5158, p. 118, available at: https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%20360/v360.pdf .

[25] Final Act of the United Nations Conference on the Elimination or Reduction of Future Statelessness, New York, 30 August 1961, United Nations Treaty Series, vol. 989, No. 14458, p. 250, available at: https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%20989/v989.pdf .

[26] Art. 1(2)(i), UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, 28 September 1954, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 360, p. 117, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3840.html .

Article 1(2)(iii) points to other reasons for being denied protection under this Convention – having committed serious crimes and being guilty of acts contrary to the purposes of the United Nations.

[27] This statistic remains controversial as statistics differ amongst sources. The UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) claims it was serving needs of around 750,000 Palestine refugees when its operations began in 1950.

UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Palestine Refugees, available at: http://www.unrwa.org/palestine-refugees [accessed 6 February 2015].

In UNRWA’s first Annual Report of the Director in 1951, John B. Blandford, Jr. noted the following in regards to census taking:

it is still not possible to give an absolute figure of the true number of refugees as understood by the working definition of “a person normally resident in Palestine who has lost his home and his livelihood as a result of the hostilities, and who is in need”. If the object had been to establish the true number of Palestinians now in other countries, the results of the census would have been more accurate; but the Agency’s mandate was expressly limited to those “in need”…UN General Assembly, Assistance to Palestine Refugees – Report of the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East: 1951, 28 September 1951, A/1905, available at: http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/9a798adbf322aff38525617b006d88d7/8d26108af518ce7e052565a6006e8948?OpenDocument&Highlight=0,A%2F1905 [accessed 6 February 2015].

[28] According to UNRWA, a ‘Palestine Refugee’ is a person: “whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” Descendants of Palestine Refugees through the male line are also eligible for registration as a refugee.

UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Consolidated Eligibility and Registration Instructions (CERI), 1 January 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/520cc3634.html  [accessed 10 July 2014].

[29] There are no official statistics on how many non-1948-refugee Gazans fled to the East Bank in Jordan. Those approximate statistics that we do have only refer to how many non-1948-refugee Palestinians in general fled to Jordan as a result of the 1967 War. Takkenberg estimates the number of people who fled at that time to be around 240,000 people and UNRWA figures from 2013 estimate this to be around 75,000 people.

Lex Takkenberg, The Status of Palestinian Refugees in International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 17. ‘In Figures’ last modified January 2013, Viewed 4 July 2014, http://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/2013042435340.pdf .

[30] From 1950 to 1988, Palestinians residing in the West Bank were eligible for Jordanian citizenship. This happened due to the uniting of the East and West Bank in 1950 when Jordan took over administration of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This was codified with the Jordanian 1954 Law, which stipulates who is eligible for Jordanian citizenship. In it, the following reference is made to Palestinians: “The following shall be considered Jordanian nationals…Any person with previous Palestinian nationality except the Jews before the date of May 15th, 1958, residing in the Kingdom during the period from December 20, 1949 and February 16th, 1954. Law No. 6 of 1954 on Nationality (last amended 1987), 1 January 1954, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b4ea13.html  [accessed 10 July 2014].”

However, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank after the 1967 Six Day War lead to the disengagement of Jordan from the West Bank in 1988 and with it, the loss of Jordanian citizenship and citizenship rights of Palestinians residing in the West Bank who had previously had Jordanian citizenship. (It is important to note, that Palestinians with Jordanian nationality living in the East Bank before 1988 retained their citizenship, although many have also been arbitrarily denationalised since). ‘Stateless Again: Palestinian-Origin Jordanians Deprived of their Nationality’ last modified 2010, Viewed 10 July 2014, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/jordan0210webwcover.pdf . In doing so, the Jordanian government issued 22 Articles of Disengagement Instructions under which article 2 states: ‘Every person residing in the West Bank before the date of 31/7/1988 will be considered as Palestinian citizen and not as Jordanian.’ The 1954 Nationality Law was never officially amended. Thus, the reference to Palestinians remains, however, due to the Disengagement guidelines, the reference is made null and void.

National Authorities, Jordan: Disengagement Regulations for the Year 1988, 28 July 1988, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/43cd04b94.html  [accessed 10 July 2014].

[31] UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Consolidated Eligibility and Registration Instructions (CERI), 1 January 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/520cc3634.html  [accessed 10 July 2014].

[32] UN General Assembly, Humanitarian assistance, 4 July 1967, A/RES/2252, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3b00f05968.html  [accessed 10 July 2014]. This refers to the Gazan and other communities.

[33] Article 3 holds that the following individuals (among others) are eligible for Jordanian nationality: (3) Any person whose father holds Jordanian nationality; (4) Any person born in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan of a mother holding Jordanian nationality and of a father of unknown nationality or of a Stateless father or whose affiliation is not established. National Authorities, Jordan: Disengagement Regulations for the Year 1988, 28 July 1988, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/43cd04b94.html  [accessed 10 July 2014].

[34] The Jordanian Law No. 24 of 1973 on Residence and Foreigners’ Affairs states that residency permits for foreigners are valid for one year, yet many reports claim that in practice, Palestinians are given two-year permits.

Jordan: Law No. 24 of 1973 on Residence and Foreigners’ Affairs, 1 January 1973, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b4ed4c.html  [accessed 10 July 2014].

[35] ‘Stateless Again: Palestinian-Origin Jordanians Deprived of their Nationality,’ 47.

[36] Ibid., 3.

[37] Although Jordan is Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

[38] Ibrahim Hejoj, ‘A Profile of Poverty for Palestinian Refugees in Jordan: the Case of Zarqa and Sukhneh Camps’, Journal of Refugee Studies 20 (2007) 122.

[39] Lex Takkenberg, The Status of Palestinian Refugees in International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 93.

[40] Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, Preface to Closing Protection Gaps: Handbook on Protection of Palestinian Refugees in States Signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention, by BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights (Bethlehem: BADIL, 2005), vi.

[41] UN General Assembly, 194 (III). Palestine – Progress Report of the United Nations Mediator, 11 December 1948, A/RES/194, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe2e5672.html  [accessed 10 July 2014].

[42] Guy S. Goodwin-Gill and Susan Akram, ‘Forward to Amicus Brief on the Status of Palestinian Refugees under International Refugee Law’, The Palestine Yearbook of International Law 11 (2000-2001): 193.

[43] Parts of the Tibetan community fled from Tibet to India in the late 1950s and early 1960s after the Dalai Lama was forced to flee due to increasing Chinese control and oppression over Tibet and the Tibetans. Tibetans were subsequently granted refugee status by the Indian Government. Although the Indian government has not provided explicit explanations for this, one could attribute the recognition to poor Indian-Chinese relations brought about through the conflict over disputed borders at the time.

The Sri Lankan Tamil community began fleeing generalised violence in Sri Lanka in the 1980s due to civil war between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam. Tamils were also granted refugee status by the Indian Government. One could attribute this to the Indian Government’s dependence on public opinion and maintaining public order in southern India (more specifically the State of Tamil Nadu) where a section of Tamil people were sympathetic towards the secessionist movement in Sri Lanka.

[44] Shuchita Mehta (Senior Communication/Public Information Assistant, UNHCR India) in discussion with Anwesha Ghosh, October 2014.

[45] Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS), Urban Profiling of Refugee Situation in Delhi: Refugees from Afghanistan, Myanmar and Somalia and their Indian Neighbours: A Comparative Study, September 2013, available at: http://fic.tufts.edu/assets/original_Urban_Profiling_of_Refugees_Situations_in_Delhi.pdf [accessed on 6 Feb 2015].

[46] UNHCR certificates enable refugees to acquire temporary residence permits from the Indian authorities and therefore, a right to stay in the country. They also entitle certificate holders to a subsistence allowance and certain other basic services, such as healthcare, education and assistance in the naturalisation process. This clearly puts refugees recognised by UNHCR in a much better situation than refugees who are not recognised.

[47] According to UNHCR, in 2005, there were more than 8,000 Afghan refugees in India. Close to 88 per cent of the Afghan refugee population in the country were Hindu or Sikh. In 2007, there were 9,200 Afghan refugees in India; of whom 8,500 were Hindus and Sikhs. Nayana Bose, Afghan Refugees in search of Indian Identity, 19 May 2005, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/428c967e4.html [accessed 6 Feb 2015]. Vivian Tan, Afghan minorities seek home in India, 13 December 2007, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/search?page=search&docid=4761579f4&query=new%20delhi [accessed 6 Feb 2015].

[48] UNHCR’s limited capacity is documented by the Ara Legal Initiative, an organisation that gives legal assistance to asylum seekers and refugees: ‘Refugee Status Determination (RSD)’, Viewed 9 July 2014, www.aralegal.in/rsd .

[49] Anne-Sophie Bentz, ‘Afghan Refugees in Indo-Afghan Relation’. Cambridge Review of International Affairs 2 (2013): 374-391.

[50] Seven out of eight Gurudwaras of historical value in Kabul were demolished; one that survived became the shelter home for 800 Sikhs who failed to escape. Ashish Bose, ‘Afghan Refugees in India’, Economic and Political Weekly 39 (2004) 43.

[51] Constitution (consolidated up to 2007) [India], 26 January 1950, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b5e20.html  [accessed 11 July 2014].

[52] Bose, ‘Afghan Refugees in India,’ 39-43. UNHCR supports an NGO called the Socio-legal Information Centre (SLIC), which helps refugees in processing applications or acquiring Indian citizenship. As of August 15, 2004, the number of Afghan refugees (mostly Sikhs and Hindus) who had shown an ‘expression of interest’ was 2,730 (cumulative figure), out of which 1,499 forms were ‘initiated’. Finally 538 forms were completed and submitted to SLIC, which defended 430 cases. The next stage was the submission of these forms to the sub-district magistrate (SDM) of the Delhi NCT, which in turn has to submit these cases to the Foreigner’s Regional Registration Office (FRRO). The FRRO was supposed to send back these forms to the SDM. Only 376 Afghan refugee cases were submitted to the SDM out of which 115 were pending with the SDM and another 88 were with the FRRO. The cases cleared by the FRRO and returned to the SDM, for forwarding to the deputy secretary passport (DS-PP) were 131, while 35 cases were pending with the DS for forwarding to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The FRRO has to take police clearance at various stages. After all these procedures are completed there are six more steps before the refugee can obtain Indian citizenship.

[53] According to the Foreigners’ Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs:[a] person must be living throughout the period of twelve months immediately preceding the date of application and for eleven years in the aggregate in the fourteen years preceding the twelve months. ‘Foreigners Division. Ministry of Home Affairs. Government of India’, Viewed 9 July 2014, available at http://indiancitizenshiponline.nic.in/citizenshipact1.htm .

[54] Aarti Dhar, ‘Births and deaths registration still low in India’, The Hindu, April 18, 2013, viewed on 24 April 2015, http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/births-and-deaths-registration-still-low-in-india/article4630425.ece.

[55] See e.g. Batchelor, ‘Stateless Persons: Some Gaps in International Protection’.

[56] Guy Goodwin-Gill said this in a preface to a Handbook on Protection of Palestinian Refugees in relation to the 1951 Refugee Convention. Although his quote relates to the 1951 Refugee Convention, we consider his message about the meaning and effect of exclusionary provisions to be fitting to the Stateless Convention as well.                               Goodwin-Gill, Preface, vi.

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