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Turning the Invisible into the Visible: Stateless Children in Italy

Nicoletta Policek


Under Article 1(1) of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, a stateless person is defined as someone who does not have a legal bond of nationality with any state (UNHCR 2012). Individuals who have legitimate claims to it but who cannot demonstrate their citizenship, for instance because of a lack of official identity documentation (e.g., birth records) or whose government refuses to recognize their nationality, are also considered to be stateless (Ahmed 2010). Children who are not registered at birth and who remain undocumented are, generally, not recognized as formal citizens of a nation and are typically described as stateless (Blitz 2011).

The preceding highlights a number of concerns embedded in the hybrid nature of statelessness and quasi statelessness as experienced by

N. Policek (*)

Centre for Conflict and Migration, Edinburgh, UK © The Author(s) 2016

M.O. Ensor, E.M. Gozdziak (eds.), Children and Forced Migration, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-40691-6_4

children in Italy. This chapter thus commences by examining the international and national legal structures that seek to classify stateless children. It then contextualizes some key problems encountered by stateless children and identifies the promises of durable solutions put in place by current legislation. The condition of being stateless when it is not a choice is a human rights violation (Bhabha 2011). Turning invisible stateless children into visible ones then becomes a political act of social justice, where justice is understood as the most powerful political demonstration of the principal of universal moral equality available.

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