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Stateless persons in the Americas

The Americas is the region which promises to lead the way in the eradication of statelessness. Such optimism is largely attributed to the nationality law frameworks in the region, which provide a combination of jus solis and jus sanguinis provisions, the statelessness safeguard in regional legal standards, and emerging good practices. These factors should combine to ensure that any case of statelessness should at most, last no more than one generation. However, obstacles to the eradication of statelessness in the region stem from a lack of prioritisation, mapping, and awareness in relation to this issue, but also due to discrimination on different grounds.


Table 2: Countries in the Americas with more than 10,000 stateless persons


Dominican Republic



The Americas is the region with the lowest number of stateless persons—according to UNHCR statistics—with 136,585 stateless persons reported. Almost this entire population—133,770 of the 136,585 reported—live in the Dominican Republic (DR). According to the statistics, the rest live in Costa Rica (1,806), Haiti (977), Brazil (4), Colombia (12), and Mexico (13). It must be noted though, that these numbers are incomplete and lack precision for various reasons, such as the absence of stateless determination procedures in many countries, the lack of accurate data due to countries not including statelessness within their statistics, and non-standardised birth registration processes in remote areas.


In the Institute’s 2014 World’s Stateless report, the stateless population in the Americas was reported at 210,032. This data was based on the UNHCR Global Trends report of 2013, which reported 210,000 stateless persons in the Dominican Republic alone; with the remaining being reported from México (13), Brazil (2), Colombia (12), Nicaragua (1), Panamá (2), Honduras (1), and Aruba (1).


The reason for the shift in numbers between 2013 and 2015 predominantly responds to the change in the reported numbers of stateless persons in the DR from 210,000 to 133,770. This is partly due to the measures implemented by the government to address, even if only in part, the situation of Dominicans of Haitian descent. There was an increase however, in numbers reported in other countries across the region, from 32 in 2013 to 2,815 in 2015. This increase likely responds to awareness raising efforts having an impact on state reporting, which also suggests that in most countries in the region, statelessness remains unreported or underreported.

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