Statelessness as a human rights issue: A concept whose time has come

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Journal Article
International Journal of Refugee Law, 2016, 28 (4), pp. 564 - 584
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© The Author (2016). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. The protection of stateless persons has long been understood as a challenge for the international community. However, for many of the past 60 years, a prioritized focus on refugees has dominated, or even eclipsed, the plight and protection needs of stateless persons. Guy Goodwin-Gill has long argued for a refocus of international attention and effort on the plight, predicament, and protection needs of stateless persons. In a seminal contribution over two decades ago he observed that, at that time, statelessness was perceived by many as a mere 'technical problem', yet, 'statelessness is indeed a broad human rights issue, even as it retains a distinct technical dimension. In light of developments since this incisive analysis, this article examines the challenge set by Goodwin-Gill for the international community, namely, to provide greater recognition of and protection for stateless persons. It celebrates the positive developments and identifies areas of ongoing challenge. The focus is on the key initiatives Goodwin-Gill identified as requiring attention, the progress made in relation to each, and, predominantly, on the relevance of developments in human rights law.
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