Citizenship has sometimes been referred to as the “right to have rights”. Without citizenship, people have neither legal protections nor are they allowed to participate in any economic or political process. People in such circumstances often lack access to education, employment, health care, registration of birth, marriage or death, and property rights (Lynch 2005; Sokoloff 2005; Owen 2018). UNHCR estimates that 10-15 million people around the world live under such circumstances. These are ‘stateless’ populations, not recognized as nationals ‘by any State under the operation of its law’ (UNHCR 1954). Statelessness is a legal anomaly, and the term illustrates the lack of the legal bond of nationality (Waas and Manly 2014).


South Asia is no stranger to statelessness. At least three million people in the region are stateless. Not one of the South Asian countries have ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention, the most important international legal instrument to protect refugees, or its 1967 Protocol. South Asian countries thereby deny asylum seekers the opportunity to qualify for the legal status (and related documentary proof) of refugees. Instead, they are referred “illegal immigrants” and most of these “illegal migrants” are at risk of becoming stateless.


Despite the uncertainty around those already stateless, and those at risk becoming stateless, the international community has yet to place the proper emphasis on the statelessness. Although the UNHCR is determined to end statelessness by 2024, important questions remain:

  1. What legal and policy reforms are necessary for South Asian countries and SAARC more broadly to effectively address statelessness?
  2. What could be the role of international community, including UNHCR to address the issue of statelessness and possible statelessness in South Asian Region?
  3. What roles can different actors in state and society play to end statelessness?

Against this background, University of York (Department of Politics), Atlantic Council (South Asia Center) and Chatham House (Asia-Pacific Programme) invite you to join the webinar titled ‘Statelessness and citizenship in South Asia’. The webinar is the second of our webinar series titled ‘Politics, Citizenship and Democracy in South Asia‘ which commemorates the upcoming 75th anniversary from Britain of the Independence of various South Asian nations.


Event Details:

Date: July 22, 2021

2:00 to 4:00 p.m. (GMT)


Moderator: Indrajit Roy, University of York, UK.



Mohsin Alam

Mohsin is an associate professor of law at Jindal Global Law School in India, and heads its Centre for Public Interest Law. His research focuses on constitutional law and politics, minority rights, and religious freedom. He is a co-founder of Parichay, a collaborative legal aid clinic among India’s law schools providing legal support and research to persons excluded from citizenship.


Rudabeh Shahid

Rudabeh Shahid is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center and a Senior Consultant at the European Institute for International Law and International Relations. She is also a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Politics, University of York (UK). Over the years, her research has focused on ethnic conflict and migration issues in South Asia, including the situation concerning the ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis.


Subin Mulmi

Subin Mulmi is the Executive Director of Nationality for All (NFA). He has worked for Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD) in Kathmandu as a human rights lawyer and researcher. He has a Master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University where he focused on gender, human rights and migration. He has conducted a number of studies on acquisition of citizenship certificates and statelessness in Nepal. He identifies as a staunch feminist and adopts a strong intersectional feminist lens in all his work and writings.



Dr. Indrajit Roy, University of York, UK.

Dr. Rudabeh Shahid, Atlantic Council, USA.

Dr. Champa Patel, Chatham House, UK.

Dr. Buddhadeb Halder, University of York, UK.