Children Without a State

Children Without a State

A Global Human Rights Challenge

Edited by Jacqueline Bhabha

Foreword by Mary Robinson

The first book to address children's statelessness and lack of legal status as a human rights issue.





The first book to address children's statelessness and lack of legal status as a human rights issue.

Children are among the most vulnerable citizens of the world, with a special need for the protections, rights, and services offered by states. And yet children are particularly at risk from statelessness. Thirty-six percent of all births in the world are not registered, leaving more than forty-eight million children under the age of five with no legal identity and no formal claim on any state. Millions of other children are born stateless or become undocumented as a result of migration. Children Without a State is the first book to examine how statelessness affects children throughout the world, examining this largely unexplored problem from a human rights perspective.

The human rights repercussions explored range from dramatic abuses (detention and deportation) to social marginalization (lack of access to education and health care). The book provides a variety of examples, including chapters on Palestinian children in Israel, undocumented young people seeking higher education in the United States, unaccompanied child migrants in Spain, Roma children in Italy, irregular internal child migrants in China, and children in mixed legal/illegal families in the United States.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262015271 392 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 1 map, 7 graphs, 3 tables


$25.00 X ISBN: 9780262525992 392 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 1 map, 7 graphs, 3 tables


Jacqueline Bhabha

Jacqueline Bhabha is Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health. She is the coauthor of Seeking Asylum Alone: Unaccompanied and Separated Children and Refugee Protection.


Mary Robinson.


  • This collection will not only make valuable contributions to the policy making that improves the straitened environment of stateless children, but will also be of great interest to policy makers, human rights advocates and scholars of human rights and international relations.

    Political Studies Review


  • Children Without a State is unique in combining scholarship on child rights with scholarship on immigration, citizenship, and statelessness. The book does an excellent job of moving from largely academic, theoretical, and legal frameworks to an examination of the situation on the ground.

    Susan F. Martin

    Donald G. Hertzberg Chair in International Migration, and Director, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University

  • The essays in this book speak to an urgent issue that is sadly overlooked in scholarly and policy discourses about citizenship and immigration rights: the rights of children who are legally or effectively stateless. As dependent legal subjects, children are the most vulnerable amongst us and hence have the greatest need of state protection. The book's scope is impressive, with discussion of state practices and their consequences within industrialized and developing countries and under conditions of global, regional, and internal migrations.

    Mae M. Ngai

    Professor of History and Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies, Columbia University

  • This is an important and timely volume that will add significantly to the existing literature on migration and citizenship law. Childhood marks a status of less-than-full membership that renders individuals vulnerable as a matter of law and social practice in relation to adults. This is the first book-length study that systematically analyzes the interface between national status vulnerability and childhood.

    Linda Bosniak

    School of Law, Rutgers University, and author of The Citizen and the Alien: Dilemmas of Contemporary Membership