‘Resolve Rohingya refugee crisis through diplomacy’ 

‘Resolve Rohingya refugee crisis through diplomacy’ 

Context

Even though the crisis concerning Rohingya refugees in India seems to have subsided, veteran experts on statelessness and refugees have called for resolving the issue through diplomacy

On Rohingya crisis

Pointing out that the Rohingyas form a category distinct from stateless people in the country, K.M. Parivelan, associate professor and chairperson of the Centre for Statelessness and Refugee Studies at the School of Law, Rights and Constitutional Governance (SLRCG) Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), says the Rohingya issue need not be linked to problems regarding the stateless people

Rohingyas in India

According to an estimate, there are 40,000 Rohingyas living in different States of India

What should be done by India, as per experts?

  • Convince Myanmar: Using its goodwill with Myanmar, India can convince the latter of the need for resolving the problem in a ‘humane way’ and providing to the affected people rights on a par with citizens of the south-east Asian country
  • Persuade Bangladesh: Indian government should persuade Bangladesh to “look after them, after all they came through that country.” The problem with Bangladesh is that it “does not provide job opportunities,” as a result of which Rohingyas migrate to other countries

No uniform criteria

Experts point out that in India there are different categories of stateless people without any uniform criteria, like

  • Illegal migrants” from Bangladesh; Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu whose ancestors were taken to the neighbouring country during the British Raj and refugees in Jammu and Kashmir who came from Pakistan. Hence, there is a need for proper identification of stateless people
  • Legal reforms: Legal reforms, based on 1954 UN Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on Reduction of Statelessness, be made

Statelessness bound to stay

Some experts say that the problem of statelessness will never end in the south Asian region as countries in and around India are making policies based on religions and languages of the majority

Citizenship Bill to the rescue

Those affected by ethnic conflicts can hope to get Indian citizenship in future in the event of the 2016 Citizenship Bill getting passed. The legislation has sought to reduce the number of years for getting citizenship by naturalisation from 11 years to six years

UN Convention on Status of Stateless persons

  • Adopted in 1954: 9The Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons was adopted on 28 September 1954 and entered into force on 6 June 1960
  • Codification of rights of stateless persons: It establishes a framework for the international protection of stateless persons and is the most comprehensive codification of the rights of stateless persons yet attempted at the international level
  • The 1954 Convention’s most significant contribution to international law is its definition of a “stateless person” as someone “who is not considered as a national by any State under operation of its law.”
    • For those who qualify as stateless persons, the Convention provides important minimum standards of treatment
    • It requires that stateless persons have the same rights as citizens with respect to freedom of religion and education of their children
    • For a number of other rights, such as the right of association, the right to employment and to housing, it provides that stateless persons are to enjoy, at a minimum, the same treatment as other non-nationals

Convention on Reduction of statelessness

  • Adopted in 1961: The Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness was adopted on 30 August 1961 and entered into force on 13 December 1975
  • It complements the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and was the result of over a decade of international negotiations on how to avoid the incidence of statelessness
  • The 1961 Convention is the leading international instrument that sets rules for the conferral and non-withdrawal of citizenship to prevent cases of statelessness from arising
  • By setting out rules to limit the occurrence of statelessness, the Convention gives effect to article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which recognizes that “everyone has the right to a nationality.”

Together, these two treaties form the foundation of the international legal framework to address statelessness, a phenomenon which continues to adversely affect the lives of millions of people around the world

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