The statelessness of refugees
in Statelessness, governance, and the problem of citizenship
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The chapter questions a central policy norm that key international actors in the area developed to govern the relationship between statelessness and refugeeness. This policy position, which the author terms as the ‘protection hierarchy’, posits that for stateless refugees their refugee-ness should trump their statelessness. This justification is based on the claim that the protection concerns stemming from refugeeness are more immediate and pressing than those stemming from statelessness. This chapter consolidates the growing body of multidisciplinary research to question the justification of the protection hierarchy. Three main themes emerge from this systematic literature review: statelessness and recognition as a refugee; vulnerability, protection and refugee’s statelessness; and statelessness and ‘durable solutions’ for refugees. The chapter discusses how there is a solid empirical foundation which shows that the relationship between statelessness and refugee-ness is impactful, fluid and complex. As such, the claim that the consequences of statelessness can be distinguished, detached, and/or compared to refugeeness, the central premise of the protection hierarchy, is argued to be highly problematic. The chapter then turns to consider the recent tentative moves away from the protection hierarchy in the discourse of key international actors. It concludes by reflecting upon what the future holds for the governance of stateless refugees and the role that evidence-based policy can and must play.

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