Statelessness among Palestinians Abbas Shiblak (University of Oxford) Outline • Introduction & Definitions • Palestinian nationality; historical background and causes of statelessness • The status of Palestinians in host Arab states; Casablanca Protocol and beyond • Categories of statelessness • Citizenship as a political instrument in the Palestinian context • In search for passport: naturalisation in host countries • Impact of statelessness; entitlement to rights, wellbeing, mobility & the undocumented • The issue of protection • Durable solution and Palestinian citizenship • Conclusion Citizenship Is a bond between the individual and the state that ensures that an individual is able to take on an identity under the law. While it imposes certain obligations, citizenship entitles the individual to protection by the state and provides a legal basis for the exercise of many civil and political rights. Universal Declaration of Human Rights “everyone has the right to a nationality” and that “no-one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.” Article 15 Principles for granting nationality • jus soli (an individual’s place of birth or relationship to territory), • jus sanguinis (and individual’s parentage, descent or blood relationship), or • the relationship established with a state through long-term residence in its territory. 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons Stateless person is a “person who is not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law”. Article 1 Palestinian nationality; historical background • • • • • • Ottoman subjects; Palestinians in the late 19th century, like all inhabitants of the Empire... British Protected subjects under the British mandate after WWI – 1948 Equal citizenship in the two states – Jewish and Arab – proposed in 1947 by the UN Res:181, 2 states Denial of statehood: Israel –Jordan correlationPalestinian nationality ceased Israel: indigenous Palestinians are residents not citizens. PA passport/ travel document until the establishment of full fledged Palestinian state Casablanca Protocol of September 1965 • To grant Palestinian refugees full social and economic rights equal to that of their own citizens. • To provide the refugees with special travel document issued by the host Arab government without granting them their nationality. Categories • • • • • Holders of the ‘Refugee Travel Document’ (RTD) issued by host Arab states that include Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq. Holders of passport of convenience, mainly temporary Jordanian passports mainly some inhabitants of the West Bank. Holders of the Palestinian passport/travel document issued by the PNA which is still considered a travel document until a fully fledged Palestinian state comes to existence, Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem who still carry Jordanian passport for convenience or an Israeli laissez passer but not prove of citizenship by the Jordanian authorities Thousands of undocumented refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait and other Gulf States whose documents were not renewed by the host countries that issued them. Also Palestinians who exceed time allowed on their visit visas and live without valid documents in PNA controlled areas. The royal decree on 31July 1988 • Surrendering his claim to the West Bank and severing legal and administrative ties with it. • The nullification of the 1950 unity of the two sides of the river Jordan. • Stipulates: “Every person residing in the West Bank before 31st July 1988 is to be considered a Palestinian, not a Jordanian citizen.”, Article 2 Citizenship is the right to have rights Is nothing less than what Marshall and others described: ‘the right to have rights… Remove this priceless possession and there remains a stateless person, disgraced and degraded in the eyes of his countrymen’ The Poet Mahmoud Darwish "These forgotten ones, disconnected from the social fabric, these outcasts, deprived of work and equal rights, are at the same time expected to applaud their oppression because it provides them with the blessings of memory." Palestinian asylum seeker in UK ‘Being uprooted from one’s own homeland is a devastating experience. To live stateless, deprived of basic rights in the country of refuge means that you are doomed. By being uprooted, you may have lost the past; by losing your basic rights, you are losing the future as well’. Conclusion • The majority of the Palestinians are stateless. • The statelessness aspect of Palestinian refugees more than any thing has shaped the experience of the exiled Palestinians • A peace agreement should widen the options for the refugees and address all aspects of the refugee issue including the right for citizenship and equal rights for Palestinians in countries they live in. . • A full fledged and viable Palestinian state would be catalyst to resolution of the refugee issue but there should be no illusions that a Palestinian state would be enough in itself to resolve all aspects of the refugee issue. • The regional aspect of the refugee issue therefore should not be overlooked. All regional and international actors should be involved in a comprehensive peace agreement..