Identity without citizenship
: towards a global uniform registration system for the stateless

  • Omar Alansari

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


For political and other reasons, statelessness or the lack of any citizenship has affected millions of people around the world, depriving many of them of many rights that other people take for granted, such as the right to legal residence, to travel and to work. In recent years, the international community has given much attention to this phenomenon. An attempt to end it by 2024 in the form of the Global Action Plan to End Statelessness was launched in 2014 by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has a limited mandate to address statelessness. However, this international focus on ending statelessness, although helpful in some contexts, has been at the expense of work to identify, protect and document stateless people pending their naturalisation. This thesis argues that ending statelessness is a too ambitious and improbable goal; given this fact, leaving the stateless without a legal identity embodied in proper documentation is perilous, as documentation is needed today to access most rights and services. For this reason and other reasons discussed in this thesis, while efforts to end statelessness should continue, more international effort should be focused on the fundamental issues the stateless often face, namely the lack of identification and proper legal identity. In order to better identify and protect the stateless, this thesis proposes a global, uniform registration system for the stateless, whereby stateless people are registered and documented by national governments but in a globally uniform manner and with the necessary oversight by and assistance from UNHCR. This thesis provides justifications for this pragmatic system based on an examination of relevant theories, historical experiences and the effectiveness of current international and national approaches to tackling statelessness.
Date of AwardJul 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsSaudi Electronic University
SupervisorColin Harvey (Supervisor) & Unknown QUB Staff Member (Supervisor)


  • Statelessness
  • Citizenship

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