The Convention was originally intended as a Protocol to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, while the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons was adopted to cover stateless persons who are not refugees and therefore not within the scope of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
The Nansen International Office For Refugees, was an organization of the League of Nations, which was internationally in charge of refugees from war areas from 1930 to 1939. It received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1938. Their Nansen passports, designed in 1922 by founder Fridtjof Nansen were internationally recognized identity cards first issued by the League of Nations to stateless refugees. In 1942 they were honored by governments in 52 countries and were the first refugee travel documents.
Migrations forced from political instability during World War II and its immediate aftermath highlighted the international dimensions of problems presented by unprecedented volumes of displaced persons including those rendered effectively stateless.
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
At the Fourth United Nations General Assembly Session in October-December 1949, the International Law Commission included the topic "Nationality, including statelessness" in its list of topics of international law provisionally selected for codification. At the behest of ECOSOC in its 11th Session soon after, that item was given priority.
The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was done on 28 July 1951. It was originally desired to cover 'refugees and stateless persons', however agreement was not reached with respect to the latter
The International Law Commission at its fifth session in 1953 produced both a Draft Convention on the Elimination of Future Statelessness, and a Draft Convention on the Reduction of Future Statelessness. ECOSOC approved both drafts.
The 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons was done in September 1954 (The Status Convention). This completed the unfinished work of the Refugee Convention three years prior.
On 4 December 1954 the UN General Assembly by Resolution adopted both drafts as the basis of its desire for a conference of plenipotentiaries and an eventual Convention.
There are 21 Articles, summarised below:
Contracting States shall grant their nationality to persons, otherwise stateless, born in their territory (subject to Article 1(2)).
The grant may be by virtue of the birth, or upon application by or on behalf of the person so born.
An applicant may have up until at least the age of 21 to claim their citizenship by birth.
For grant of citizenship by birth, a Contracting State may require proof of habitual residence in their territory for a period not exceeding 5 years immediately prior to application, or 10 years in total.
Grant of citizenship by birth may be contingent upon the applicant's not having been convicted of an offence against national security nor having been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of five years or more. Grant of citizenship by birth may be contingent upon the applicant having always been stateless.
A child born in wedlock in a Contracting State shall take the nationality of its mother.
A Contracting State shall give its nationality to a person, otherwise stateless, who is legally precluded from assuming his/her birth nationality, where that State's nationality was held by either parent at the time of the birth.
An applicant has until at least the age of 23 to claim a nationality by Article 1(4).
For conferral of nationality by Article 1(4) a contracting State may impose a residence requirement not exceeding three years immediately prior to application.
For conferral of nationality by Article 1(4) it may be required that the applicant has always been stateless.
For the purpose of assigning nationality, a foundling shall be considered to have been born in the State where it was found and from parents of that State's nationality. That presumption may be displaced by proof to the contrary.
For the purpose of assigning nationality, birth on a ship or aircraft shall amount to birth in the territory of the State that gives its flag to that ship or aircraft.
A Contracting State shall grant its nationality to a person, not born in its territory, if either parent had that State's nationality and the person would be otherwise stateless.
A person may make such a claim for nationality at least up until the age of 23. They may also be required to have a period of residence up to three years immediately prior to application. The claim may be refused where a person has been convicted of an offence against the national security of the State.
If a law entails loss of nationality, such loss shall be conditional upon the person acquiring another nationality. This only applies to loss by marriage, legitimation, divorce, recognition or adoption. A child that loses nationality by recognition or affiliation shall be given opportunity to reacquire by written application under terms not more rigorous than provided by Article 1(2).
If a law entails loss of nationality by a spouse or child by virtue of the loss of nationality by the other spouse or a parent, such loss shall be conditional on the person's possession or acquisition of another nationality.
Laws for the renunciation of a nationality shall be conditional upon a person's acquisition or possession of another nationality. (Exceptions: not to frustrate freedom of movement of nationals within a country, not to frustrate return of nationals to their country, not to frustrate a person's ability to seek asylum)
Contracting States shall not deprive people of their nationality so as to render them stateless. (Exceptions: where otherwise provided in the Convention; where nationality has been acquired by misrepresentation or fraud; disloyalty to the Contracting State).
Nationality will not be deprived on racial, ethnic, political or religious grounds.
Treaties providing for transfer or territory between States shall make provisions to preclude the occurrence of statelessness. Absent such provisions, a Contracting State taking territory will give its nationality to persons, otherwise stateless, in that territory.
Persons may apply to the UNHCR to claim the benefit of the Convention.
The Convention applies to persons born either before or after it goes into force. (Exception: only applies to foundlings found after going into force}
The Convention is not to be construed to detract from any law or treaty provision otherwise aiding the reduction of statelessness.
Disputes by Contacting States concerning the Convention are susceptible to final adjudication by the International Court of Justice.
The Convention applies to all trust, non-selfgoverning, colonial, and non-metropolitan territories of Contracting States.
Process of signature and ratification.
Albania, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chad, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Guatemala, Republic of Ireland, Kiribati, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Slovakia, Swaziland, Sweden, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Uruguay. Dominican Republic, France, and Israel are also signatories.
Compare this with the 153 ratifications of UNCLOS since it was opened for signature in December 1982 until February 2007, and the 145 countries who are signatories to either or both of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its subsequent Protocol