24 U. Queensland L.J. 545 (2005)
Statelessness in Australian Refugee Law: The (Renewed) Case for Complementary Protection

handle is hein.journals/qland24 and id is 551 raw text is: STATELESSNESS IN AUSTRALIAN REFUGEE LAW:
THE (RENEWED) CASE FOR COMPLEMENTARY PROTECTION
CHRISTOPHER RICHTER*
I. INTRODUCTION
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states unequivocally that '[elveryone has the
right to a nationality. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality, nor denied the
right to change his nationality'.' Yet, despite these strong words, the reality is that many
people around the world are devoid of nationality. They are stateless. Since such individuals
lack a nationality, they also lack 'the principal link by which they could derive benefits from
International Law ... and thus they lack protection as far as [the] law is concerned'.2 The
international community has recognised that statelessness is a problem requiring special
attention, and has responded to it with the creation of two conventions seeking, firstly, the
elimination of future cases of statelessness, and, secondly, the protection of those already
stateless. The notion of complementary protection has also evolved as a response. This
concept has resulted from the recognition that there may be people who do not fall within
the internationally protected category of refugees, but who should nonetheless be afforded
protection because, amongst other things, they are stateless. Australia too, is beginning to
take note of this problem. However, while migration has been a regular issue of contention
in Australian politics since the widely reported Tampa incident and the 2001 federal
elections,3 the related issue of statelessness has received little attention until recently. The
fact that statelessness has only become an issue in Parliament in the last few months raises
the question of whether Australian law adequately protects those who are stateless and
without nationality.
The extent to which Australian law does so is, therefore, the focus of this paper. It
examines the international laws dealing with statelessness, the rules in foreign jurisdictions,
and the existing situation under Australian refugee law. After concluding that Australia does
not provide sufficient protection to the stateless, the paper discusses recent proposals that
have been put forward to improve the law. It offers an argument for dedicated legal
procedures of complementary protection, a system that, if implemented, could enhance the
efficiency of Australia's asylum processes and provide important benefits for those
applicants who are stateless.
II. THE PROBLEM OF STATELESSNESS
The issue of statelessness has received varying degrees of attention internationally, yet
designation as a stateless person can have dramatic implications for the approximately 11
LLB student, TC Beime School of Law, The University of Queenland.
1 UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights, GA Res 217A (LI), [art 15] UN Doc A/810 (1948).
2 L Oppenhein and H Lauterpacht, Oppenheim's International Law Volume I (8h ed. 1955) 668.
3 On the controversies surrounding Australian migration law, see generally T Magner, 'A Less Than
'Pacific' Solution for Asylum Seekers in Australia' (2004) 16(1) International Journal of Refugee Law
53.

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