Author granted license

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Document Type


Publication Date





Oxford University Press




Most Arab countries have not ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention/1967 Protocol or the 1954 Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons, and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness has no ratifications in the Middle East. While regional conventions dealing with refugees in the Arab world have been developed, they have been honoured primarily in the breach. Further, many Arab countries do not have domestic laws governing the status of refugees or stateless persons per se, but have applied ad hoc policies to the waves of refugees that have entered and stayed – some for decades – in their territories. The Palestinian refugee/statelessness problem has been both the main driver and the main obstacle to the policies governing refugees in the region, so understanding how the Middle East deals with refugees who are also stateless requires a knowledge of the history and legal trajectory of Palestinian refugees in their host territories. The Middle East States that host the majority of Palestinian refugees are persistent objectors to the Refugee and Statelessness Convention norms for historical reasons; yet certain regional norms have developed that are consistent with these and they could provide more robust frameworks for providing protection to the significant populations of stateless refugees. This article examines the two main protracted cases, the Palestinians and the Syrian Kurds, to illustrate the problem and possibilities of the double jeopardy in which stateless refugee populations find themselves: neither recognized as stateless nor as refugees, with durable solutions and national status remaining out of reach for generation after generation.

Link to Publisher Site Link to Publisher Site (BU Community Subscription)



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.