Stateless persons

The international legal definition of a stateless person is “a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law. This means that a stateless person does not have a nationality of any country. Some people are born stateless, but others become stateless.

Statelessness can occur for several reasons, including discrimination against particular ethnic or religious groups, or on the basis of gender; the emergence of new States and transfers of territory between existing States; and gaps in nationality laws. Whatever the cause, statelessness has serious consequences for people in almost every country and in all regions of the world. 

Today, millions of people around the world are denied a nationality. As a result, they often cannot go to school, see a doctor, get a job, open a bank account, travel freely or even to get married – the basic rights available to the others.

In 2010 UNHCR launched a global #IBelong campaign aimed at ending within 10 years the problem of statelessness.

UNHCR has been carrying out activities together with the relevant authorities of the Republic of Serbia aimed at preventing and eradicating statelessness since 2004. In Serbia, this phenomenon particularly affects the Roma population, and internally displaced persons. In November 2020, UNHCR estimates that some 2,050 persons are at risk of statelessness, of whom approximately 253 remain without birth registration.

In view of the progress made to date, the Republic of Serbia is amongst the countries that can eradicate statelessness by 2024, or even earlier. UNHCR and its partners remain committed to supporting further positive developments especially regarding action 6 (Grant protection status to stateless migrants and facilitate their naturalization) and action 7 (Ensure birth registration for the prevention of statelessness) of the Global Action Plan to End Statelessness: 2014 – 2024