The Status of Palestinian Refugees in International Law

By Lex Takkenberg | Go to book overview

V Law Relating to Stateless Persons

1. Introductory Remarks

As has become clear in the preceding chapters, international refugee law does not provide a well-defined status in respect of Palestinian refugees. Part Two of this book will therefore examine whether other areas of international law contain rules that are relevant to the refugees' status. A limitation will have to be made in that it is impossible in the scope of this study to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the applicability of the enormous body of rules of international law that might theoretically be relevant to the status of Palestinian refugees. The author has decided to focus on three areas of international law that are of particular relevance. Thus, the present chapter will deal with the rules of international law concerning stateless persons, and their applicability to Palestinian refugees. Chapters VI and VIII will explore some aspects of humanitarian law and human rights law that are of special significance in the context of this study.

'A person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law' is called stateless, apatride, apolide, or heimatlos.1 As nationality2 is the principal link between the individual and the state and for that matter between the indvidual and international law, statelessness is an anomaly.3 According to Batchelor, 'The stateless person is denied the vehicle for access to fundamental rights, access to protection and access to expression as a person under the law.'4 Having no nationality, 'one is stripped of even the right to have rights, there being no foundation from which other rights might reliably flow.'5

Weis distinguishes between original and subsequent statelessness: 'A person may either be stateless at birth, as a result of the fact that he does

____________________
1
Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons of 28 Sep. 1954, art. 1. Entry into force: 6 June 1960. Text: 360 UNTS117 (No. 5158); also in UNHCR, 1988, 59. See also, Weis P. , Nationality and Statelessness in International Law, Alphen aan den Rijn, Germantown, Sijthoff & Noordhoff, 1979, 161; Batchelor C. A., "Stateless Persons: Some Gaps in International Protection", 7 IJRL232 ( 1995).
2
The terms nationality and citizenship are used synonymously throughout this book unless otherwise indicated.
3
Cf. Weis P., "The United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, 1961", 11 ICLQ1073 ( 1962).
4
Batchelor, 1995, 235.
5
Ibid.

-175-

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