× Stateless persons in the Americas

Regional standards

The Brazil Plan of Action

Indigenous and border populations

Country updates

Americas Network on Statelessness and Nationality – from Ivonne Garza

Table of Contents

Indigenous and border populations

In a region where nationality is predominantly granted by birth on the territory, registering and documenting births before the authorities is extremely important to secure state recognition as a national. The indigenous and afro-descendant communities that reside on ancestral territories, border regions or are nomadic, are more likely to have their nationality questioned and are particularly vulnerable to being unable to access registration and documentation to prove nationality. It is often difficult, if not impossible, to register births in these often hard to reach territories, with few to no state authorities. Intergenerational lack of documentation—where grandparents and parents lack documents or have never been registered—affects the registration of new births. Likewise, cultural and linguistic barriers and the absence of special policies to tend to these vulnerable populations can result in disincentives to registration. In the face of heightened border control and the securitisation of political boundaries, these communities are likely find it increasingly necessary to prove their identity and demonstrate their nationality. This is a challenging area where there are tangible risks of statelessness.


Countries in the region such as Brazil, Colombia, and with great success Costa Rica, sometimes working in in partnership with UNHCR and UNICEF,  have established mobile registration units, which are an effective way to reach these communities. More bilateral policies of cooperation are needed across the region to fully ensure these populations can access means to prove their nationality, and register the births of their children.

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