Defining Statelessness: The Conception of the Definition and Why It Matters Today

Kateryna Ustymenko

Defining Statelessness: The Conception of the Definition and Why It Matters Today
Ustymenko, Kateryna
B.A., Columbia University
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
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In order to shed light on the problems one might face today trying to understand statelessness, we need to look at the historical context in which conception of the definition of statelessness took place and examine the attempts to address the issue of statelessness prior to the codification of the concept in international law by reviewing the documents from the Hague Conference (1930) and the Evian Conference (1938), the Memorandum “Statelessness and Some of its Causes: An Outline.”(1946), and “The Study of Statelessness” (1949), as well as the historical documents that describe the process leading to the conventions, such as the reports by the United Nations, academic and legal studies. I will elaborate on the close relationship between refugees and stateless people and review how it was addressed prior to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and then in the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons itself. I will also revisit the debate about the place of de facto statelessness within the definition of statelessness and difficulties it created when it came to the practical application of the definition. Based on the documents reviewed for this paper, there is evidence that the way definition of statelessness was developed in international law might have been influenced by historical context. At the time of codification of the concept of statelessness, it was separated from the problem of refugees despite the fact that prior to the codification statelessness was viewed solely within the refugee problem. I believe that separation of the refugees and stateless people in international law and the introduction of the concept of de facto statelessness, which was not later included in the Convention on Statelessness, have contributed to the confusion we have today about the definition of statelessness. Finally, I will conclude my paper with the contemporary example of how the complex and confusion definition of statelessness makes it difficult to identify stateless people today and, therefore, provide them with protection 4 they need.
Stateless persons--Legal status, laws, etc.
Human rights
Political science
International law
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Suggested Citation:
Kateryna Ustymenko, , Defining Statelessness: The Conception of the Definition and Why It Matters Today, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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