Women, Peace, and Security and Nationality Laws in the Syrian Conflict

AuthorMaría del Rosario Grimà Algora
PositionLLM in Human Rights Law '17
Pages74-103
74 WPS and Nationality Laws in the Syrian Conflict Vol 4
Women, Peace, and Security and Nationality Laws in the
Syrian Conflict!
María del Rosario Grimà Algora*
ABSTRACT
The right to nationality is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and various
international and regional human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the European Convention
on Nationality. Nationality provides a link to a specific state, and, more importantly, it
constitutes the condition sine qua non for the deployment of an array of human rights. Yet, states
are unwilling to fully defer to international law the determination of the right to a nationality.
This, in combination with gender-based discrimination in nationality laws, can strip individuals
their right to a nationality. In the case of Syria, women cannot pass on their nationality to their
children born in exile, creating a generation of stateless children. This paper analyses how the
Women, Peace and Security (‘WPS’) agenda of the Security Council offers a solution to this
problem and to challenge Syrian nationality laws. WPS provides a gender perspective and a
human rights approach to conflict and post-conflict situations, including displacement.
Nationality rights are only merely tackled in the WPS resolutions. Nonetheless, WPS is a
strong tool to address the issue of statelessness created by the intersection of gender discriminatory
laws, displacement, and an incomplete human rights framework.
INTRODUCTION
As a woman, I have no country. As a woman I want no country.
As a woman my country is the whole world1
The Syrian conflict has recently passed its seventh year. After several rounds of
peace negotiations, it has been impossible to reach an agreement, intensifying the
scepticism as to how to solve this conflict in the shortcoming future. This conflict
* LLM in Human Rights Law (LSE)17. I would like to thank Louise Arimatsu for her feedback on
an earlier draft.
1 Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas (Blackwell Publishing 2001) 99.
2019 LSE LAW REVIEW 75
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has forced over 5.6 million people to flee the country and seek refuge, mostly in
neighbouring states.2 It is estimated that around 6.6 million Syrians are internally
displaced,3 making Syria both the country with the largest internally displaced
population in the world4 and the principal country emitting refugees.5 The massive
exodus of Syrians has exacerbated the creation of statelessness. The intersection
between gender discriminatory Syrian nationality laws that do not grant equal
rights to men and women in transferring their nationality to their children and
massive international displacement is creating a generation of stateless children
born in exile.6 This poses additional problems to the conflict that must be
addressed in a pertinent peace agreement.
Since 2011, over 300,000 Syrian children have been born in exile.7 Due
to the high casualty rate and forcible separation, the UN estimates that around a
quarter of Syrian refugees are female-headed households.8 Discriminatory gender
nationality laws exacerbate the creation of statelessness, especially when taken in
conjunction with the existing difficulties in registering the birth of children in host
countries; the lack of marriage certificates that some countries require for
determining the identity of the child’s legal father or, more generally, the difficulty
in documenting the connection of a child with a Syrian father.9
2 UNHCR, ‘Syria Emergency’ http://www.unhcr.org/uk/syria-emergency.html.> accessed 30
December 2018.
3 ibid.
4 UNHCR, ‘Syria. Internally Displaced People’ http://www.unhcr.org/sy/29-internally-displaced-
people.html.> accessed 30 December 2018.
5 UNHCR, ‘Figures at a Glance’ http://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html.> accessed 30
December 2018.
6 Louise Osborne and Ruby Russell, ‘Refugee crisis creates 'stateless generation' of children in limbo’
The Guardian (Berlin and Antakya, 27 December 2015)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/27/refugee-crisis-creating-stateless-generation-
children-experts-warn> accessed 15 June 2017.
7 Zahra Albarazi and Laura van Waas,Understanding statelessness in the Syria refugee context
(2016) Norwegian Refugee Council http://www.syrianationality.org/pdf/report.pdf> accessed 30
December 2018.
8 Radhika Coomaraswamy, ‘Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing Peace: A Global
Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325’ (UN Women
2015) 84 http://www.peacewomen.org/sites/default/files/UNW-GLOBAL-STUDY-1325-
2015%20(1).pdf> accessed 20 January 2017.
9 Albarazi and van Waas (n 7) 7.

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