The right to a nationality is a fundamental human right, enshrined in Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Having a nationality also facilitates the enjoyment of many other human rights, often being a prerequisite for taking part in political life of your country (including through standing for or voting in elections), diplomatic protection, travelling both within and between countries and accessing essential services such as health care and education.
Those who do not have a nationality are referred to as stateless people. Stateless people are generally unable to exercise the rights associated with citizenship or face serious difficulties in doing so. They are typically excluded from political processes, cannot travel freely and lack access to publicly-funded services such as education, health care and social security. They often face difficulty in obtaining identity documents and securing employment and may be detained due to their lack of status. Stateless people are also vulnerable to exploitation and abuse due to their lack of status.
This Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) report focuses on the situation of stateless people in Australia. It provides background information on the situation of stateless people worldwide an overview of issues and challenges faced by stateless people in Australia. It also includes a series of recommendations for improving protection for stateless people in Australia and ensuring that our international obligations towards stateless people are effectively upheld.