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Private International and Stateless Children: Question of Deportation?

Stateless is a condition where an individual does not get recognised as a national of any state. Under International law, Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons deals with the Stateless people. Article 1 of the Convention defines stateless person as, "a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law". Every person who does not have a connection with any country, then such individual will be concluded as Stateless person.

Mostly, the Refugees, person displaced during war times and OAC will be stateless, as their connection is unknown. Additionally, these people do not have proper access to establish or prove their connection, and same with their birth place. Hence the Covenant is important to provide a framework for the International protection of stateless persons and it the most comprehensive codification of the rights of the stateless persons yet attempted at the International level.

The intent behind establishment of this convention is to resolve the practical problems faced by the Stateless people, where this convention upholds the right to freedom of movement for stateless persons lawfully on the territory, and requires States to provide them with identity papers and travel documents. It further protects the stateless persons, where the Convention prohibits the expulsion of stateless persons who are lawfully on the territory of a State party.

The Preamble of the Conventions illustrates their intention to regulate and improve the status of stateless persons by an international agreement. However the convention is silent about the OAC as they are subject to orphanages, hence nationality of child will be dependent on the nationality of prospective adopted parents or the orphanages. Due to increase in migration, some children will be displaced, and others leave on their own, some of these children claim asylum, and others do not.

Under EU law, the Dublin Regulations deal with the unaccompanied and separate children, where the regulation provides particular protection. Similarly, 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention and Brussels Ila regulation directs the State's authorities to take measures on child protection.

It is evident that there is a significant disparities in the treatment of unaccompanied minors compared to accompanied ones through out the world. In a report from Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, May 2023, it examined the protection of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the 27 EU member states titled "Happiness, Love and Understanding: the Protection of Unaccompanied minors in the 27 EU Member States".

This report assessed the policies and practices of each country aiming to provide equal protection to unaccompanied minors same as the accompanied ones. Further this report highlighted the urgency of timely identification, legal guardianship, and proper accommodation for unaccompanied minors alongside with meeting international guidelines. The reason for unaccompanied minors or abandoned minors is due to unequal living standards and limited economic opportunities. In additions, fear of persecution, especially on account of their financial status, caste and parental status.

Most of these unaccompanied and abandoned minors have single parents. From subjection to child labour, early marriage, female genital mutilation, or underage recruitment to sex trafficking and other forms of sexual exploitation, specific threats to children exist because their young age makes them more vulnerable than adults. Moreover, children may be associated with the opinions or activities of their families, leading to their own persecution.

Thousands of minors flee dangerous situations in their home countries every year, arriving on their own at the European Union's borders with the hope of finding safety and security by progressing on the path to international protection. Member States received 881,200 first-time applications for international protection in 2022, of which 39,520 were made by unaccompanied minors. This was the highest number of unaccompanied minor applicants since 2015, and a 45% increase compared to 2021, when 23,255 applications were submitted by unaccompanied minors.

The portion of unaccompanied minors within all applicants for international protection stayed relatively stable at around four per cent, however, so the increase in their absolute number reflects more asylum applications being submitted overall, as opposed to a disproportionate influx of unaccompanied minors. To a large extent, this increase was caused by a rise in the number of unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control of the country in August 2021, and from Ukraine after the February 2022 Russian invasion.

As the preamble of the Convention on the Rights of the Child says "the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding. The child should be fully prepared to live an individual life in society, and brought up in the spirit of the ideals proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, and in particular in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity",unaccompanied minors and abandoned children must be accommodated in facilities designed for minor, where the authority must follow the principles of natural justice in all administrative procedures concerning their status, nationality; and grant asylum.

Further they must ensure an additional layer of rights and possibilities, including access to education, shelter, proper clothing, foster care and facilitated integration into society. It is very well evident that Indian law does not provide any uniform definition for who a child.

  • Convention relating to the Status of Stateless persons, 1954, Introductory note by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). URL:
  • Analysis, Happiness, Love and Understanding: The Protection of Unaccompanied Minors in the 27 EU member States, RELIEFWEB, 18 May 2023. URL:
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child, Preamble. URL:

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