Rmrp statelessness project accessing citizenship and nationality additional information


In March 2011, LHR launched a new project focusing on statelessness as part of the Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme.Due to a conflict of citizenship laws between various African nations, and intentionally discriminatory laws and practice, many Africans find themselves de jure stateless – they do not qualify for citizenship under any nation’s legal system.  In addition, due to a range of factors including low birth registration rates and lack of documentation; migration; and difficulty accessing government services, many would-be citizens are de facto stateless – effectively stateless due to an inability to prove or access their nationality.  Access to nationality is an issue both for individuals born in South Africa as well as immigrants. The problem of statelessness and denial of citizenship is a serious human rights violation. Recognition of nationality serves as a key to a host of other rights. As a result, stateless individuals are often unable to access basic human rights such as education, health care, employment, equality, liberty and security of person.   In addition, denial of citizenship frustrates peace and has resulted in violence and armed conflict in several African nations. However, the problem of statelessness has remained largely invisible. Currently there exist limited mechanisms under South African law and policy to assess, prevent and reduce statelessness. At the same time, there is a dearth of information or statistics about the magnitude of the problem.


The objectives of the Statelessness Project are to:
  • provide direct legal services to individuals;
  • identify and raise awareness of causes of statelessness and populations of concern;
  • recommend and advocate for legislation, policies and procedures to address and prevent statelessness;
  • ​advocate for ratification of the two statelessness treaties.

For more information, advice or assistance contact:

Liesl Muller
011 339 1960
liesl [at] lhr [dot] org [dot] za (subject: Query%20regarding%20Statelessness%20Project)