Some people are born stateless. Others become stateless over the course of their lives because of discriminatory laws, their ethnicity, their religion, or even their gender, since in some countries women cannot pass their nationality on to their children.
Statelessness often means that leading a life like other members of society is impossible, whether it is working legally, attending school, owning property or opening a bank account. Stateless people are easy prey for labour or sexual exploitation. They may not be able to register births and deaths and may be prevented from getting married. Stateless people cannot access the national justice system or participate in national elections.
Governments establish who their nationals are and are responsible for legal and policy reforms that address statelessness. But UNHCR, other agencies, regional organizations, civil society and stateless people all have roles to play in supporting their efforts.
That’s why UNHCR launched a vital global campaign in 2014 to end statelessness within 10 years. This is an ambitious goal indeed, but one that can be achieved because it is premised on the fact that citizenship is a basic human right and that the realization of this right is mostly a matter of political will. The centerpiece of UNHCR’s 10-year campaign is strengthening the international legal framework on statelessness. Ninety-four countries have so far acceded to the United Nations 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. There is also the United Nations 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, to which 75 States are now parties.
Israel ratified the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons in 1958 and has signed, but not ratified, the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
In 2013, the Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) of Israel’s Ministry of Interior issued the Procedure for Handling a Foreign Subject Who Claims to be Stateless (text available in Hebrew only). This procedure applies only to persons who entered Israel regularly. Therefore, it does not ensure protection for stateless persons born in Israel, such as Bedouins and stateless persons who entered Israel irregularly, mostly from African countries.
Documents and Resources
- Procedure for Handling a Foreign Subject Who Claims to be Stateless – English | Hebrew
- 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
- States Party to the 1954 Convention
- 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness – English | Hebrew
- States Party to the 1961 Convention
- Protecting the rights of Stateless Persons
- Global Action Plan to End Statelessness, 2014-2024
- A Special Report: Ending Statelessness Within 10 years
- #IBelong Campaign
- IBelong: Minority Children and Statelessness
- I am Here, I Belong: The Urgent Need to End Childhood Statelessness