The International Observatory on Statelessness


The Bidun, a group of approximately 9,000-15,000 stateless persons in Bahrain, were granted citizenship during 2001, leaving some 1,300 still stateless with no means of protection.

Bahrain’s law stipulates that citizenship applicants of Arab descent who have resided in the country for over 15 years and non-Arab applicants who have resided in the country for over 25 years are legally entitled to citizenship, but these provisions are reportedly unevenly applied.

Bahraini men married to non-Bahraini women may pass Bahraini citizenship to their children, but Bahraini women married to non-Bahraini men cannot do so, creating the potential for statelessness among children of mixed parentage. Exceptions are made for children born out of wedlock or if the father is unknown. In 2007, an amendment was proposed through which a child would obtain Bahraini nationality if either parent is Bahraini, whether the child is born in Bahrain or abroad. In 2008, a group of 21 women’s organizations submitted a report detailing, among other gender equality issues, Bahrain’s discriminatory nationality laws, for review at the 42nd session of the committee of the Convention of Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in November 2008. The organizations demanded withdrawal of all reservations on the CEDAW and ratification of the Optional Protocol.