A stateless person can be defined as “someone who is not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law”.
This particular situation can be explained by different factors and in particular by the simultaneous application of two contradictory laws who have as a consequence that no state can grant nationality to the person. This is for example the case for the new-born whose parents come from a state that grant nationality on the basis of the place of birth (ius soli), that is born in a country that only recognises ius sanguine which means that the nationality will only be granted when the parents have that nationality. Statelessness can also happen when one state revokes the nationality and no other nationality can be granted. Another example is when one failed to declare the birth.
A stateless person is left without any protection of a state, which has horrible consequences in practice. As a matter of example, the stateless person cannot marry, cannot receive a passport, cannot vote, nor can he enjoy his fundamental rights.
Belgium waited more than 50 years before finally - on 10 June 2014 - adopting the law on the implementation of the 1961 United Nations Convention on the reduction of Statelessness. The Convention contains different rules to avoid that a state would arbitrarily withdraw the nationality and allows to grant the nationality to individuals that otherwise would have been stateless, if necessary under certain conditions.
Despite the reservations that have been placed, we can applaud this step forward in terms of human rights, and especially with regards to the right to a nationality.
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