Statelessness: A Human Rights Crisis

From the slums of Kenya and refugee camps of Lebanon to the sugar plantations of the Dominican Republic and the far reaches of Bangladesh, men, women and children across the world have found themselves living without citizenship rights. Rejected by their countries of birth and unwelcome everywhere else, they are called by international rights organizations “the stateless.”

Their predicaments change depending on time and place. But many cannot access health care, go to school or join the formal economy; others cannot obtain the documents necessary for functioning in society, such as a birth certificate, a passport or a driver’s license. These people are not refugees; in fact, they often have deep roots in their home countries. But denied citizenship, they do not have a nationality. They are, effectively, citizens of nowhere.

Although the reasons for their situation vary, the result is largely the same: a global population that is legally invisible, desperately vulnerable and growing restive.

In this project, photographer Greg Constantine and reporter Stephanie Hanes explore the world-wide phenomenon of statelessness. They look at how the international community is defining, and also mobilizing a response to this human rights crisis. It is a fight that pits individuals and communities against nations and nations against international organizations, and exposes the vulnerabilities in our modern concepts of borders, nation states and human rights.

Lebanon: Born Here But Not a Citizen

Women in several Middle East and Gulf countries, including women in Lebanon, cannot pass citizenship to their children because of gender discrimination in citizenship laws.

Exiled to Nowhere: Burma's Rohingya

The Rohingya, a Muslim minority from Rakhine State in western Burma, are recognized by human rights organizations as one of the most oppressed ethnic groups in the world.