× Stateless persons in the MENA

Regional and international standards

Displacement and statelessness

Arbitrary deprivation of nationality in the Gulf region

Gender discrimination in nationality laws

Country updates

Increased momentum on the issue

Table of Contents

Regional and international standards

There are only two countries in the region that have acceded to both the 1954 and the 1961 Statelessness Conventions: Libya and Tunisia. In addition, Algeria is party to the 1954 Convention. The level of accessions in the region has not changed for many years and with the majority of the States not having ratified the 1951 Refugee convention either, there has been little push or expectation to encourage more accessions.

It is important to note that, despite slight variations from State to State, in general, the rights of stateless persons are rarely protected in the region. There is not a single country in the region that has a statelessness determination procedure, nor a specific protection status for stateless persons. In most countries, a stateless person will remain legally invisible, which means they will be unable to access a host of various rights. Despite this, the countries in the region have a reasonably high accession rate to human rights conventions, all for example are parties to the CRC, the ICCPR and CEDAW

MENA states at the Universal Periodic Review

Within the framework of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) statelessness rarely comes up in relation to MENA countries. It is mainly addressed with regard to discrimination and access to human rights of specific stateless communities, or in relation to access to birth registration. In recent UPRs, the only focus has been on access to birth registration. For example, Paragraph 86 of the 23rd session on Lebanon specifically discussed the problems of access to birth registration, particularly for children of refugee families and of maktoum (unregistered) fathers, which was one of the causes of statelessness in the country. Lebanon received a recommendation to ensure access to birth registration for everyone.  The UPR of Kuwait in 2015 resulted in eight recommendations being made regarding the stateless Bidoons, ranging from granting them citizenship to ensuring the protection of their human rights, and two recommendations being made on Kuwaiti accession to the statelessness conventions.

Additionally, there is a weak regional human rights framework in the region. Both the Arab Charter on Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Islam protect the right to nationality.  However, these are not binding frameworks and there is no human rights mechanism or regional court to monitor implementation or hear individual complaints under these treaties. The Arab League has recently shown some interest in statelessness-related issues, hosting a 2016 conference on access to civil registration procedures in the region, but to-date there has been no take-up of the issue more substantially.

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