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23 Sep 2009 description

Executive Summary

When former Secretary of State Dean Acheson wrote of "the Eclipse of the State Department" in a 1971 article for Foreign Affairs, he could not have been more prescient towards the position of the Department in 2009.

23 Sep 2009 description

The Obama administration is facing a critical juncture in American foreign policy. As U.S. civilian programs have been chronically underfunded and understaffed over the last several decades, there is growing consensus that our approach to global engagement is in dire need of repair. This concern has only grown stronger in the wake of ongoing U.S. military-led operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and widespread concerns about the reliance on and inappropriate use of U.S. military in non-combat activities abroad.

02 Sep 2009 description

Policy recommendations

- UNHCR should take stronger leadership in pressing governments to find and implement solutions for stateless persons and urge all countries, including the U.S., to become party and adhere to the statelessness conventions.

- H.E. the Amir of Kuwait and the Parliament should formalize and implement a plan to secure the civil and political rights to which every person is entitled.

11 Mar 2009 description


The world community is no longer silent about statelessness. In recent years, countries such as Bangladesh, Estonia, Mauritania, Nepal, and Sri Lanka have made significant strides to protect the rights of stateless persons. The response of the United Nations (UN) has improved. Non-governmental agencies, legal experts, affected individuals, and others are joining forces to gather more accurate information and reduce the incidence of this often overlooked global phenomenon. Media attention has increased.

22 Oct 2008 description


Statelessness, or the lack of effective nationality, impacts the daily lives of some 11-12 million people around the world. Perhaps those who suffer most are stateless infants, children and youth. Though born and raised in their parents' country of habitual residence, they lack formal recognition of their existence. A few key steps taken by individual countries and UN agencies can help reduce statelessness among infants and children and prevent millions of youth from growing up isolated from society.

09 Feb 2007 description

Statelessness in Africa, as elsewhere, has been caused by state succession, gaps in citizenship laws, and targeted discrimination. Traces of the colonial legacy remain in social, economic, or political structures and favor specific groups. In other cases, the arbitrary boundaries that divided linguistic, ethnic, and religious communities and interfered with traditional patterns of movement have at times undermined access to nationality. In Senegal, a small group of Mauritanian refugees have spent 15 years in the limbo of statelessness.