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.

The latest research from November 2023 on persons at risk of statelessness in Serbia is available at this link.

In the period from June to October 2023, the non-governmental organization Praxis, with the support of UNHCR, conducted mapping of persons at risk of statelessness in 24 municipalities/cities on the territory of Serbia. In addition to the information collected by engaging associates of members of the Roma national minority in these municipalities/cities, information obtained in additional 21 municipalities/cities visited by Praxis lawyers as part of their regular field activities was also processed. Over 200 settlements are covered.

A more detailed report on the mapping results from 2023 is available at this link.