Legal invisibility: Statelessness and issue (non) emergence

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Hans Peter Schmitz


Statelessness, Nongovernmental organizations, Human rights, Issue emergence, Transnational avocacy

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


The problem of statelessness, or lack of formal citizenship, has been linked to human rights violations worldwide, yet the issue has been described as "a forgotten human rights crisis." Based on qualitative interview data from 22 leading human rights and humanitarian specialists, this dissertation explores "issue emergence" as a core condition for successful transnational mobilization. I argue that rational choice and framing perspectives alone do not adequately explain why statelessness has failed to garner widespread attention, and that further research must be paid to the process of constructing and accepting a problem as an international issue. To do this, I analyze how nongovernmental organizations currently view this problem and uncover the characteristics that have obstructed its emergence. For instance, ambiguity related to the definition of "statelessness" and confusion regarding the scope of the problem hinders mobilization efforts. Lack of political will during times of increased immigration and refugee flows, as well as limited government cooperation, also contribute to this issue's non-emergence. Awareness of these obstacles, understood through elite interviews combined with existing scholarly literature, may strengthen future attempts to mobilize against statelessness. This dissertation, therefore, bridges theory with practice by providing tools for more effective transnational mobilization.


Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance.