Human Rights Review

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 73–87 | Cite as

“A Forgotten Human Rights Crisis”: Statelessness and Issue (Non)Emergence

  • Lindsey N. KingstonEmail author


Despite international laws guaranteeing the right to a nationality, statelessness remains a pervasive global problem that has been termed a “forgotten human rights crisis.” The issue highlights an important question for scholars that has not yet received enough attention: Why do some issues make it onto the international agenda while others do not? This study examines the characteristics necessary for successful issue emergence, or the step in the process of mobilization when a preexisting grievance is transformed from a problem into an issue. Using qualitative data from interviews with 21 decision makers at leading human rights and humanitarian non-governmental organizations, the study highlights shortcomings in the existing literature and provides additional explanations for issue emergence (or non-emergence). Statelessness serves as a case study for better understanding this process, and the article ends with specific recommendations for addressing key obstacles to its full emergence within the international community.


Non-governmental organizations Issue emergence Statelessness Transnational advocacy networks 



The author thanks Hans Peter Schmitz, Elizabeth Cohen, John Burdick, Audie Klotz, and Julie Mertus for their support and invaluable feedback on this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Webster UniversitySaint LouisUSA

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