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Abstract

In the wake of the Syrian Civil War, millions of persons have been displaced from their homes. As desperate families flee zones of conflict, they leave all but their most precious belongings behind, in search of safety in neighboring countries. The path to safety and security, however, is a dangerous one. Displaced persons must traverse national borders, military checkpoints, and journey great distances to find safe haven. Unfortunately, Syrian families often do not carry identification documents to establish a legal recognition of their nationality in foreign lands. Consequently, this population of refugees is left vulnerable to the ugly reality of statelessness. First, this Note resolves to acknowledge the magnitude of the statelessness issue in the wake of the largest humanitarian crisis in the past two decades. Second, this Note emphasizes that, though the normative humanitarian framework established by human rights Conventions in the twentieth century theoretically acknowledges a universal right to nationality, the practical reality is that massive populations of displaced persons are left without a remedy. This Note seeks to emphasize that there are inherent tensions between sovereign authority over citizenship determinations and humanitarian norms that have achieved customary character. Because the normative framework of the twentieth century has come to favor human rights, this Note seeks to illustrate that there exists an obligation on nation-states to, minimally, avoid the creation of stateless persons. In light of the fundamental connection between citizenship and the rights, protections, and privileges that flow forth from its possession, this Note argues that obligations under customary international law that exist for the protection of guaranteed human dignities should be honored, and domestic legislation that obstructs these obligations must be modified.

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