The International Observatory on Statelessness


In its Declaration of State Sovereignty, Ukraine determined its initial citizenry by stipulating that individuals who were citizens of the former USSR , and were permanently residing in Ukrainian territory at the moment of the Declaration of Independence (August 24, 1991), were ex lege citizens of the Ukraine. This legal framework led to a situation in which an individual who immigrated to Ukraine for permanent residence as recently as 1991 was automatically granted citizenship, while an individual who was born in and forcibly removed from Ukraine not only lacked citizenship, but was prevented from acquiring it.

Most of the previously deported Armenians, Bulgarians, Germans, and Greeks were naturalized with the 1991 law. Of the estimated 258,000 Crimean Tatars who returned, about 150,000 acquired Ukrainian citizenship in this manner as well. Those who left their place of exile (primarily Uzbekistan) after the citizenship law entered into force but before citizen legislation in their respective states took effect, became stateless (25,190). Those who returned and are still returning after the citizen law and related legislation took effect, are estimated to be about 100,000. Thanks to an amendment of Ukraine’s citizenship law and bilateral agreements between Ukraine and Uzbekistan, most of the returning Tatars have been granted citizenship upon return to Ukraine. UNHCR assisted the Ukrainian authorities with amending their citizenship laws to prevent statelessness, assisting local NGOs in Crimea to provide legal advice, and facilitating integration in liaison with the UN Development Program. About 48,000 Roma live in the Ukraine, but the number of stateless individuals among them is unknown.