East African Community Portal East African Community
East African Community Portal
  Customs Union Common Market Monetary Union Political Federation  
PDF Print E-mail
Who is a Refugee?

The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees is the key legal document in defining who is a refugee, their rights and the legal obligations of states. The 1967 Protocol removed geographical and temporal restrictions from the Convention.

A stateless person is someone who is “not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law.”[3] In other words, a stateless person has no citizenship or nationality. As a matter of international law, citizenship and nationality are congruous, although there may be differences between the two concepts in domestic law.

The causes of statelessness around the world are numerous. In most cases, there is an underlying issue of discrimination – usually on the basis of race or ethnicity, religion, or sex. In many cases, statelessness affects entire minority populations that have never been recognized as nationals of the state where they are habitually resident. Statelessness caused in part or whole by ethnic discrimination is often handed down from one generation to the next.