What does it mean to be stateless?

In simple terms, a person is stateless if no country is willing to recognise them as a citizen. People can be born into statelessness, for example, if national rules prevent their mother from passing on her citizenship. One can also become stateless over the course of their life for reasons such as national rules discriminating against specific ethnic groups or laws which result in the loss of citizenship, for example, if one is absent from their country of origin for a longer period of time.

In simple terms, a person is stateless if no country is willing to recognise them as a citizen. People can be born into statelessness, for example, if national rules prevent their mother from passing on her citizenship. One can also become stateless over the course of their life for reasons such as national rules discriminating against specific ethnic groups or laws which result in the loss of citizenship, for example, if one is absent from their country of origin for a longer period of time.

The UNHCR reported 4.2 million stateless persons residing in 94 countries at the end of 2020, yet it is estimated that the true global figure is significantly higher.

As a result of their status, stateless persons are more vulnerable to rights violations; they are not granted the same rights as citizens and, consequently, they do not have the same opportunities in life. Many countries, including Denmark, have ratified conventions to reduce the number of people affected by statelessness.