When part of a state secedes and becomes independent, or when a state dissolves into multiple new states, the question emerges as to what happens to the nationality of the persons affected. The new nationality laws of successor states may conflict and leave people without any nationality, while the re-definition of who is a national of the original state (where it continues to exist) may also render people stateless. Most often in the context of state succession, it is vulnerable minorities who are associated with either the successor or parent state who are deprived of nationality, exposing the discriminatory motivations and arbitrary nature for such exclusion. Common types of state succession which have resulted in large-scale statelessness are the dissolution of federal states into independent republics.  Examples of state succession include the break up of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.  Or more recently, the the split of Eritrea from Ethiopia and South Sudan from Sudan.

Today’s world map looks very different from that of a few decades ago and political upheaval is likely to continue to bring changes to borders and sovereignty in the years to come. Solving existing cases of statelessness that have already been created by changes in political geography and forestalling new cases in the event of future situations of state succession is one of the major challenges that the international community faces in addressing statelessness.