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                            CONVENTION RELATING TO THE STATUS OF STATELESS PERSONSIts History and InterpretationA COMMENTARY by NEHEMIAH ROBINSONINSTITUTE OF JEWISH AFFAIRSworld Jewish Congress 1955Reprinted by the Division of International Protection of the United Nations Hig
	PREFACE
	PART ONE - THE PREPARATION OF THE CONVENTION
	PART TWO - THE INTERPRETATION OF THE CONVENTION
		Article 1: Definition of the term “stateless person”
		Article 2: General obligations
		Article 3: Non-discrimination
		Article 4: Religion
		Article 5: Rights granted apart from this Convention
		Article 6: The term “in the same circumstances”
		Article 7: Exemption from reciprocity
		Article 8: Exemption from exceptional measures
		Article 9: Provisional measures
		Article 10: Continuity of residence
		Article 11: Stateless seamen
		Article 12: Personal status
		Article 13: Movable and immovable property
		Article 14: Artistic rights and industrial property
		Article 15: Right of association
		Article 16: Access to courts
		Article 17: Wage-earning employment
		Article 18: Self-employment
		Article 19: Liberal professions
		Article 20: Rationing
		Article 21: Housing
		Article 22: Public education
		Article 23: Public relief
		Article 24: Labour legislation and social security
		Article 25: Administrative assistance
		Article 26: Freedom of movement
		Article 27: Identity papers
		Article 28: Travel documents
			SCHEDULE TO ARTICLE 28
			Paragraph 1
			Paragraph 2
			Paragraph 3
			Paragraph 4
			Paragraph 5
			Paragraph 6
			Paragraph 7
			Paragraph 8
			Paragraph 9
			Paragraph 10
			Paragraph 11
			Paragraph 12
			Paragraph 13
			Paragraph 14
			Paragraph 15
			Paragraph 16
		Article 29: Fiscal charges
		Article 30: Transfer of assets
		Article 31: Expulsion
		Article 32: Naturalization
		Article 33: Information on national legislation
		Article 34: Settlement of disputes
		Article 35: Signature, ratification and accession
		Article 36: Territorial application clause
		Article 37: Federal clause
		Article 38: Reservations
		Article 39: Entry into force
		Article 40: Denunciation
		Article 41: Revision
		Article 42: Notifications by the Secretary-General of the United Nations
	APPENDIX I - Draft Protocol Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons Prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee on Statelessness and Related Problems
	APPENDIX II - Draft Protocol Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons Prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee on Statelessness and Related Problems
	APPENDIX III - Final Act of the United Nations Conference on the Status of Stateless Persons
	Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
		Preamble
		CHAPTER I - GENERAL PROVISIONS
			Article 1: Definition of the term "stateless person"
			Article 2: General obligations
			Article 3: Non-discrimination
			Article 4: Religion
			Article 5: Rights granted apart from this Convention
			Article 6: The term “in the same circumstances”
			Article 7: Exemption from reciprocity
			Article 8: Exemption from exceptional measures
			Article 9: Provisional measures
			Article 10: Continuity of residence
			Article 11: Stateless seamen
		CHAPTER II - JURIDICAL STATUS
			Article 12: Personal status
			Article 13: Movable and immovable property
			Article 14: Artistic rights and industrial property
			Article 15: Right of association
			Article 16: Access to courts
		CHAPTER III - GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT
			Article 17: Wage-earning employment
			Article 18: Self-employment
			Article 19: Liberal professions
		CHAPTER IV - WELFARE
			Article 20: Rationing
			Article 21: Housing
			Article 22: Public education
			Article 23: Public relief
			Article 24: Labour legislation and social security
		CHAPTER V - ADMINISTRATIVE MEASURES
			Article 25: Administrative assistance
			Article 26: Freedom of movement
			Article 27: Identity papers
			Article 28: Travel documents
				SCHEDULE TO ARTICLE 28
				Paragraph 1
				Paragraph 2
				Paragraph 3
				Paragraph 4
				Paragraph 5
				Paragraph 6
				Paragraph 7
				Paragraph 8
				Paragraph 9
				Paragraph 10
				Paragraph 11
				Paragraph 12
				Paragraph 13
				Paragraph 14
				Paragraph 15
				Paragraph 16
			Article 29: Fiscal charges
			Article 30: Transfer of assets
			Article 31: Expulsion
			Article 32: Naturalization
		CHAPTER VI - FINAL CLAUSES
			Article 33: Information on national legislation
			Article 34: Settlement of disputes
			Article 35: Signature, ratification and accession
			Article 36: Territorial application clause
			Article 37: Federal clause
			Article 38: Reservations
			Article 39: Entry into force
			Article 40: Denunciation
			Article 41: Revision
			Article 42: Notifications by the Secretary-General of the United Nations
		MODEL TRAVEL DOCUMENT
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 1

CONVENTION RELATING TO THE STATUS OF STATELESS
PERSONS

Its History and Interpretation
A COMMENTARY by NEHEMIAH ROBINSON

INSTITUTE OF JEWISH AFFAIRS
World Jewish Congress 1955

Reprinted by the Division of International Protection of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 1997

PREFACE
As will be seen from the discussion regarding the preparation of the Convention dealt with in this
volume, it was largely modelled on the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (called the
Refugee Convention for short): in many instances the relevant articles of the Refugee Convention
were taken over bodily by substituting the words “stateless person” for “refugee”. In other
instances, however, the text was modified with the result that the treatment accorded stateless
persons differs from that of “refugees”. Obviously, Article 1 has no connection with the Refugee
Convention at all.

Despite the close relationship between the two Conventions, both of them are formally and
materially independent international treaties: they apply to different groups of persons and grant
divergent benefits to them. On the other hand, the circumstance that many provisions were either
taken over from the Refugee Convention or are modified versions thereof makes the
understanding of the Convention dependent on an analysis of the relevant articles of the Refugee
Convention and of the reasons for the changes. It is for these reasons that the Commentary to
this Convention makes frequent references to the discussion on the preparation of the Refugee
Convention and deals in greater detail with the genesis of the articles of the present Convention.

The Commentary to the Convention contains frequent references to stateless persons, de jure
and de facto. These terms were introduced in a study on statelessness which was prepared by
the United Nations Secretariat and were used in both conferences. At bottom, however,
nationality is a legal concept; therefore de facto statelessness is a somewhat illogical term.

Nehemiah Robinson

May, 1955

PART ONE
THE PREPARATION OF THE CONVENTION
As will be seen below, the Convention is for the most part the application to stateless persons of
the provisions of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. In order to understand the
genesis of this Convention we have thus to refer to the history of the United Nations efforts in the
field of legal protection for stateless persons and refugees.

The Human Rights Commission, in its second session (December 2-17, 1947), took cognizance
of the lack of international agreements relating to the protection of post - Second World War
refugees and the necessity for adapting existing conventions to the new conditions created after
that war and to the developments of international law under the auspices of the United Nations.
As a result, the Human Rights Commission requested the Economic and Social Council to initiate
action to the above effect.

On March 2, 1948, the Council adopted Resolution 116 (VI) (D), requesting the Secretary-
General of the United Nations, i.a., to undertake a study of the existing situation in regard to the

Page 2

protection of stateless persons and to make recommendations on the interim measures which
may be taken by the United Nations to further this objective. As a result of the Secretary-
General’s Study,1 the Economic and Social Council on August 8, 1949, adopted Resolution 248
(IX) (B) appointing an Ad Hoc Committee on Statelessness and Related Problems consisting of
representatives of 13 governments. Among its tasks was consideration of the desirability of
preparing a revised and consolidated convention relating to the international status of refugees
and stateless persons and, if it so decided, the preparation of a draft of such a convention. The
Ad Hoc Committee convened on January 16, 1950, in Lake Success and on February 16
completed its work with the adoption of a Draft Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
and a Protocol thereto Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.2The report the Ad Hoc
Committee was considered by the Economic and Social Council (in its Social Committee and the
plenary meetings) during its eleventh sessions. The Council decided to reconvene the Ad Hoc
Committee so that it might revise its draft in the light of the comments made by governments and
the discussions and decisions of the Council. It was asked to submit the draft, as revised, to the
General Assembly at its fifth session. The Council recommended to the Assembly to approve
international agreements on the basis of the drafts prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee. In
pursuance of this resolution, the Ad Hoc Committee met in Geneva from August 14 to August 25,
1950, and prepared a revised version of its original draft.3

The fifth session of the General Assembly did not deal with the substance of the draft convention.
Instead it of decided to convene a conference of plenipotentiaries in Geneva to complete the
drafting of such a convention and a protocol on the status of stateless persons. The Assembly
recommended to the governments which would participate in the conference to take into
consideration the draft convention prepared under the auspices of the Economic and Social
Council.

The Conference of plenipotentiaries met in Geneva from July 2 to 25, 1951. Twenty-six states
were represented by delegates and two governments by observers. The conference adopted by
24 votes to none, a Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (hereafter referred to as the
“Refugee Convention”) and a Final Act containing, i.a., five recommendations to the respective
governments. It resolved, however, to refer the draft protocol on the status of stateless persons
who are not refugees, to the appropriate organs of the United Nations.

The General Assembly, by resolution 629 (VII) on the Draft Protocol Relating to the Status of
Stateless Persons, decided to request the Secretary-General to communicate the Draft Protocol
to all governments which participated in the aforesaid conference with a request for their
comments, in particular on those provisions of the Refugee Convention which they would be
prepared to apply to the various categories of state less persons. At the same time the Economic
and Social Council was requested to study the text of the Protocol and the comments received
and, in the light of these comments, to take action which seemed useful in order that a text might
be opened for signature after the Refugee Convention had entered into force.

Comments were received from the following states: Belgium, Dominican Republic, Finland,
Japan, France, United States, Sweden, Yugoslavia, Iran, Union of South Africa, Pakistan, Great
Britain, Switzerland, Netherlands, Norway. They appeared as Doc. E/2373 with 14 addenda.

Since the Refugee Convention came into force on April 22, 1954, the Economic and Social
Council resolved to convene a Second Conference of Plenipotentiaries with the following agenda:

(i) The revision of the draft Protocol Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, in the light
of the provisions of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the observations
made by the governments concerned.


1 Document E/1392.
2 The Report of the Committee was distributed as Doc. E/1618, E/AC.32/5. The Draft Protocol is contained in Appendix I.
3 The Report of the Committee was distributed as Doc. E/1850, E/AC.32/8. The revised Draft Protocol is contained in
Appendix II.

Page 44

should not be required to meet any conditions of local residence or affiliation which might be
required of nationals.164 The same must apply to stateless persons.

As the Convention does not contain a definition of “public relief and assistance” it will
depend on the special situation in every Contracting State how much assistance a
stateless person is to receive. 165No difficulties will, as a rule, arise in practice concerning
the delimitation between public relief and assistance on the one hand, and social security
on the other, because the Convention provides for the same treatment, in both instances,
except for the cases enumerated in Article 24 (1) (b) (i) and (ii).

Article 24
Labour legislation and social security
1. The Contracting States shall accord to stateless persons lawfully staying in their
territory the same treatment as is accorded to nationals in respect of the following
matters:

(a) In so far as such matters are governed by laws or regulations or are subject to
the control of administrative authorities: remuneration, including family
allowances where these form part of remuneration, hours of work, overtime
arrangements, holidays with pay, restrictions on home work, minimum age of
employment, apprenticeship and training, women’s work and the work of
young persons, and the enjoyment of the benefits of collective bargaining.

(b) Social security (legal provisions in respect of employment injury, occupational
diseases, maternity, sickness, disability, old age, death, unemployment, family
responsibilities and any other contingency which according to national laws or
regulations, is covered by a social security scheme), subject to the following
limitations:

(i) There may be appropriate arrangements for the maintenance of acquired
rights and rights in course of acquisition;

(ii) National laws or regulations of the country of residence may prescribe
special arrangements concerning benefits or portions of benefits which are
payable wholly out of public funds, and concerning allowances paid to
persons who do not fulfil the contribution conditions prescribed for the
award of a normal pension.

2. The right to compensation for the death of a stateless person resulting from
employment injury or from occupational disease shall not be affected by the fact that the
residence of the beneficiary is outside the territory of the Contracting State.
3. The Contracting States shall extend to stateless persons the benefits of
agreements concluded between them, or which may be concluded between them in the
future, concerning the maintenance of acquired rights and rights in the process of
acquisition in regard to social security, subject only to the conditions which apply to
nationals of the States signatory to the agreements in question.


164 E/1850, para. 27,
165 It was the view of certain members of the Ad Hoc Committee that this article did not deal with assistance to
unemployed (SR.15, para. 21 ff) because in some countries unemployment benefits are part of social security while in
others they are granted as part of the relief programme. The provision of Article 24 (1) (b) covers only such assistance to
unemployed as results from social security benefits. For these reasons the French representative in the Ad Hoc
Committee requested that a special reference to unemployment benefits not covered by insurance be included in the
report, (Ibid., para. 34). Although this was not done it must be assumed that Article 23 covers these cases since they are
pail of the relief programme.

Page 45

4. The Contracting States will give sympathetic consideration to extending to
stateless persons so far as possible the benefits of similar agreements which may at any
time be in force between such Contracting States and non-contracting States.
1. In the conference a number of states (Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark)
pointed to their domestic legislation which would not permit them to apply this article to stateless
persons and would require them to enter reservations to the first three paragraphs. Similarly, the
French representative pointed out that, although France made no reservations to the relevant
article in the Refugee Convention, he did not feel that his country would accept it as regards
stateless persons because of the complexity of the local legislation and the requirement of
reciprocity. On the other hand, the Belgian representative stated that the first paragraph of this
article was almost identical with a provision in Convention No. 97 of the ILO (Migration for
Employment Convention) which many states had already ratified.

At the request of the representative of Ecuador a vote was taken on the inclusion of the
article paragraph by paragraph. The vote varied from 12 to 17 for inclusion, none against,
and 6 to 9 abstentions. The inclusion of the whole article was decided by a vote of 17 to
none, with 6 abstentions. 166

The provisions of this Article insofar as para. 1 is concerned reproduce as mentioned
Article 6 of the Migration for Employment Convention.

3. As may be seen from the text, this article covers the whole range of official employment
regulations and social security. It does not, however, apply to agreements between employers
and employees. 167In most cases aliens are anyhow treated on the same footing as nationals in
regard to remuneration and other conditions of work because otherwise they would constitute
serious competition to local labour. The same is more or less true of social security also.
However, since there are states which do not provide for the inclusion of foreigners in the social
security system, para. 1 subpara. (b) provides for two limitations which would permit the state to
deal with stateless persons under special schemes. 168

The first limitation relates to the lack of obligation by the state of residence of the stateless
person to maintain the rights which he has acquired elsewhere or which he was about to
acquire there. These rights may either be disregarded or recognized in part only. The
second limitation relates to such portions of the social security benefits which are payable
wholly out of public funds (i.e., to which the employee does not contribute) and to
allowances which are paid instead of pensions (i.e., when pensions have not yet been
earned under the law or regulation). In both of these instances the Contracting States are
free to apply in part to stateless persons or not to apply at all the usual laws and
regulations.

4. Paragraph 2 affects many foreign labourers: generally, if the beneficiaries in fatal
accidents are not permanent residents of the country where the accident occurred, they may not
receive the benefits. To remedy this difficulty, as regards stateless persons, this paragraph
stipulates explicitly that the foreign residence of the beneficiary shall be no reason for refusing
payment. However, paragraph 2 cannot be interpreted as derogating from the existing currency
regulations; in other words, it establishes the right of the foreign beneficiary to the payment but
leaves the decision as to the transferability of these benefits to the regulations in force in the
country concerned.

5. Paragraphs 3 and 4 are the result of paragraph 1, subpara. (b) (ii): they try to remedy it in
certain instances. Maintenance of “acquired rights” relates to rights to social security benefits
acquired in one country and to be recognized, within the existing accumulation, by another
country: maintenance of “rights in the process of acquisition” refers to a partial accumulation of

166 SR.7, p. 15.
167 See the remarks of the Belgian representative in the Ad Hoc Committee in SR. 14, para. 17.
168 E/1618, Comments to Article 19.

Page 88

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