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This article is written by Pari Khurana from Ansal University, Gurgaon and edited by Abanti Bose, from Amity University Kolkata, India. This article deals with the rights and regulations of non-citizens including cultural, moral and educational or political rights.


All human beings should have that much liberty to enjoy their rights fully and fundamentally. The exceptional distinction, as citizens and non-citizens, can be specifically made only if they serve the legitimate State objective and are proportional to the achievement of that objective. International law generally leaves to each State with certain officials to control who is certified as a citizen. Citizenship, in general, can be procured by being born in the country, being born to the parents who are already the citizen of the country, naturalization or combination of these resources. A non-citizen is the one who is basically not recognised as the person having these efficacious connections to the place where he or she resides. There are certain categories of non-citizens including lasting tenancy, emigrants, non-permanent visitors, refugees etc. Each of these groups may have rights based on the separate legal regimes.

The non-citizens should have freedom from arbitrary killing, inhuman treatment, slavery, forced workers, child labour etc. Moreover, they also deserve to get married, be protected as the minor, and should also be granted labour rights, socio-culture and economic rights. As all humans are authorized to the fairness in nobility and rights, States may draw a distinction between citizens and non-citizens on a political basis. For non-citizen, there is, regardless, a large gap between the rights that the Global Human Rights Law ensures to the people and the actuality that they face. Mainly, all groups of non-citizens come through legally and ill-legally discriminatory part. Many countries also have the legal guarantees offered to the people for equal treatment and the recognition of the importance of the non-citizens in achieving prosperities.

People face hostile social and practical realities. They have to face many challenges  in the form of racism, sexism, language barriers and unfamiliar customs duties etc. Some of them are also subjected to arbitrary and often indefinite detention. The situation has worsened since 2011, as the government had directly detained some of the non-citizens in response to the fear of terrorism.

Specific rights of non-citizens

Certain rights are given to the non-citizens of the country fundamentally, politically and educationally. These rights are as follow-

Fundamental rights and freedoms

  • Right to liberty and security of the person- Non-citizens have transmitted the correct way of life, protected by the law. In case, the refugees are wrongfully impoverished, then, they ought to be treated nicely on a humanitarian basis. They merely are subjugated to cruelty, inhuman or degrading behaviour.
  • Protection from refoulement- Non-voters enjoy the right to be protected against refoulement, or deportation to a country within which they’ll be subjected to prosecution or abuse. This principle of non-refoulement exists in a very variety of international arenas. For instance, Article 3 of The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment states with relation to the non-refoulment.
  • Freedom of activity and movement and a chance to be entered in the country- People do not have the right to enter or reside in the country of which they are not citizens. Non-residents who are legitimately inside the domain of a State reserve the privilege to freedom of development and free decision of living arrangement. Article 12(4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that nobody will be arbitrarily denied the option to enter his own nation.
  • The opportunity of thought and inner voice- Non-residents reserve the privilege to the opportunity of thought and still, small voice, just as the option to hold and express assessments.

Civil and Political rights

  • Right to recognition and protection before the law- Non-residents are qualified to have equivalent security and acknowledgement under the steady gaze of the law. They will be equivalent under the watchful eye of the councils and courts and will be qualified for a reasonable and formal conference by a skilled person. They ought not to be exposed to the antedated corrective enactment and may not be detained for inability to satisfy a point of reference.
  • Right to acquire and transmit citizenship- State should take compelling measures to guarantee that all non-residents appreciate the option to secure citizenship with no segregation. States ought not to oppress any gathering of non-residents based on race, national birthplace and so on. The legislature should give more noteworthy consideration to migration approaches.
  • Safety from unfairness on the basis of sex- The ethnic gatherings and movement laws of numerous nations segregate in the limit of male and female residents to live with their non-resident accomplices.

  • Rights of non-citizens as a member of a minority- Non-citizens are of an unalike domestic or national origin than the citizens, states are inspired to examine-citizens as belonging to national authorities, and also ensure that they enjoy the rights that appear from such status. The rights of non-citizens which they enjoy as members of minorities can be set up in many lawful appliances and in the justice of their monitoring bodies. They enjoy the right to freedom of religion. Furthermore, States ensure to take the obligatory steps to put a stop on activities that deny non-citizens culture and genetic identity.
  • Right to the least quality of living and communal security- State should ward off various gauges of gathering retention to the residents and non-residents which may prompt the inconsistent pleasure in financial, social, and social rights. Instructive foundations must be open to everybody, with no separation, within the jurisdiction of a state party. Non-citizens who are the former citizens of the predecessor state in which they dwell may not be denied benefits, lodging, medicinal services and different rights.

Relevant Human rights standards relating to non-citizens

1. United Nation Charter 

The rights of the citizens are preserved in a number of an international agency that personifies the main principles of equality and non-discrimination. The United Nations Charter(UNC) contains a non-segregation condition in Article 1(3), which brief about the basic purpose for the UNC is to promote and hearten the respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms as well for all without any kind of discrimination related to the case, race, sex or religion.

2. The Worldwide Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Right recognises the inherent dignity of all the members of the family as the basis of freedom, justice, and peace in the world. It states that Human Rights are universal and are enjoyed by each member of the country. It also comprises several rights like constitutional freedom and political rights, the right to live, and right to speak, etc. The instrument, therefore, protects all person, including non-citizens from racial discrimination and others form of discrimination. It is also provided in Article 15 of the Constitution of India, which states that every individual has the right to a nationality, equal treatment and prohibits discrimination on the basis of caste, sex, religion and birth of place.

3. The Worldwide dealings on Civil and Political Rights

  • Covenant provision  The provisions lead away in the Worldwide dealings on Civil and Political Rights put in generally to a non-citizen. Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights briefs that each state party to the covenant ensures to their citizens within the boundaries and concern towards justice, the rights granted in the current dealings, without any variance. 
  • Human Rights Committee jurisprudence The Human Rights Committee was framed under Article 28 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Regarding the removal of outsiders compliant with Article 13, the Human Right Committee has held that when outsider difficulties are compatible, then, in that case the individual’s question is shielded from the reasonable method standards. The Human Right Committee has likewise embraced various finishing up perceptions in regards to the privileges of non-residents under the Covenant.
  • Human Rights Committee concluding observation The Human Right Committee had also adopted a number of observations regarding the rights of non-citizens under the Covenant. The Human Right Council has consistently reaffirmed that with the exception of Article 3 and 25, the privilege under the Covenants must be regarded and guaranteed concerning all people without qualification of any sort.

4. The Worldwide dealings on Economic, Social and Cultural rights

  • Covenant Provisions- The worldwide dealings on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights came up with such rights that apply to everyone, regardless of citizenship. Article 6 grants everyone the right to work. Article 7 grants just and favourable working conditions to everyone. Under the provision, there are several guaranteed rights ensured to the citizens under different Articles such as the Right to establish trade union, Right to social security to everyone etc.
  • General Comments- It addressed non-discrimination and equal treatment with regard to the Right to Education. The academic organizations should be within the reach of every person, in spite of any unfairness, within the judiciary of the regional party. With reference to the right to wellbeing, the cabinet has expressed in its general comment that the Covenant prohibited any discrimination related to health care and the basics determinants of wellbeing, on the ground of colour, sex, religion, colour basis, health basis, sexual orientation etc. So it clearly states that the Covenant cannot discriminate against the non-citizens with respect to the right to the health if that discrimination intentionally nullifies their equal enjoyment or exercise of that right.
  • Committee on Economic, Culture and Social Rights monitoring- They have considered numerous reports submitted by the State parties, under several Articles of the Covenant with regards to its usage and the circumstance of non-nationals including displaced people and workers. The advisory group has held that social administrations, and access to a sufficient way of life, including satisfactory lodging, food, attire, etc. may not be applied in an unfair way. The Committee has held that States may not victimize non-residents legally inside their separate domains with regards to the privileges of everybody to frame and join a worker’s organization.

5. Improvement Since the Adoption of the Declaration on the Human Rights of the individuals who are not residents of the country

  • In 1985, The General Assembly adopted by consensus, a statement on the individual rights of individuals who are not part of the country in which they live. This statement was the result of a Sub-Commission study, completed later, on the rights of non-citizens. The declaration covers all people who are not the citizens of the land where they are residing.
  • The affirmation accommodates the regard of essential human privileges of outsiders, including the rights to live, right to security, fairness under the steady gaze of the courts, the opportunity of protection and religion, maintenance of language, culture and convention. The announcement likewise denies the removal of individuals on unfair grounds and accommodates the worker’s guild rights just as the privilege to wellbeing, clinical consideration and so forth.


International Convention on minimising of Ethnic Discrimination

The worldwide show on limiting of Racial Discrimination is a United Nation’s show. The show includes an individual essential grumbling system, viably implementing it against the gatherings, which prompts the fundamental advancement of a restricted law on the understanding of the show. The show is further being monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Core provisions

The Preamble of the Convention asserts dignity and equality before law citing Charter of United Nations and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Declaration on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Convention against Discrimination in Education against discrimination.

Article 1 of the Convention defines racial discrimination as “Distinctions made especially on the basis of citizenship. Discrimination need not be specifically based on race or ethnicity for the Convention to apply.”

Article 2 of the Convention deals with racial discrimination and compel parties to tackle a situation by all suitable means and without a policy of banishing racial discrimination in all its form. It also requires the party to encourage the interpretation among all the races.

Article 6 of the Convention obligates the parties to provide effective protection and remedies, through the courts or any other institutions for any act of racial discrimination.

Convention on the removal of all forms discrimination against women

Convention on putting an end to all modes of discrimination in case of women sets up the power of women with regard to nationality. These rights become specifically supreme when a woman marries a foreign national. In this way, so as to secure ladies’ nationality Article 9 of the Women Convention states that State gatherings ought to consistently allow ladies, uncommon rights and correspondence with men to allow the change or clutch their citizenship. They ought to especially clarify that neither union with an outsider nor change of nationality by the spouse during marriage consequently will change the nationality of the wife. State gatherings ought to likewise give ladies equivalent rights with men as for the nationality of their youngsters. 

The Women Convention, additionally, centres around forestalling the loss of ladies’ nationality. Nationality ought to be capable of progress by the women and ought to be whimsically expelled in light of marriage or uncovering of marriage since her significant other changes the nationality.

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Convention on the Right of the Child held that the recognition of the inheritance of nobility and equal and absolute rights of all members of the mortal family is the leading principle of privilege, equity and calmness in the world. In addition, the convention requires that the State parties should respect and ensure the respect of the rights put forth by the convention to each child’s or his or her parent’s, legal guardians’ race, caste, national, ethics or social origin etc. The convention applies to all the citizens irrespective of any caste or race or citizenship status. As States have been obligated to “each child within their jurisdiction”, States may not distinguish between children based on their citizenship or race. All children under the jurisdiction of the State must be treated equally. The dealings on the Rights of the Child got embraced on 20 November 1989 at the forty-fourth General Assembly of the United Nations.

Convention linking with the condition of Stateless Person

The Convention of linking to the Status of Stateless Persons is a United Nations treaty of 1954 which aims to protect the stateless people. The Convention does not apply to the Palestinian refugees. The United Nations Charter and the Universal Announcement of Human Rights were approved in 1949. The Declaration of Article 15 affirms that-

  • Everyone has a right to a nationality.
  • No one will be going to be underprivileged of his or her nationality.

The Convention for the status of refugees was founded in 1951. As in its original intention, it did not involve any statement related to the status of a stateless person and there were no such conventions in order to reduce the Statelessness. The United Nation Economic and Social Council has also adopted a resolution in place to control and enhance the position of stateless persons through an international agreement. The Convention entering into the force on 6 June 1960.

Articles under the Convention

Article 1– The Convention applies to the Stateless persons mainly under the UNHRC, but specifically not to the people who are under the protection of other UN. It also does not apply to those who have established themselves in a way of being a real enemy for international peace and cooperation.

Article 7– States with legal contracts and official understandings shall accord the Statelessness persons in the same way they used to accord aliens.

Article 8– There should be no exceptional measures taken against the Stateless people especially in States binding in a legal contract.

Article 9– Several provisional measures which are affecting the Stateless person may be taken at the time of emergency where national security is the main issue.

Article 11– States showing sympathy towards the Stateless people.

Article 12– Governing the personal status of Stateless people by the law of domicile ahead of the law of his or her residence.

Article 14– Intellectual property rights in no less than accorded by the Contracting States to its nationals.

Article 15– Right of accession to be no less than accorded with aliens generally.

International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant workers and Members of their Families

One major development in respect of the rights of non-citizens took place in 1990 when the General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (Migrant Worker Convention). This Convention was the result of a request by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to the Sub-Commission to study the conditions of migrant workers. The Sub-Commission appointed a person to prepare a preliminary study on the Exploitation of the migrant through illegal migration. The study recommended that the UN should be involved to ensure that all humanitarian aspects of the problem are covered.

The Migrant Workers Convention covers all migrant workers including their family members as well. The Convention provides for non-discrimination with respect to the rights of migrant workers, insurance of Fundamental Human Rights, equal treatment, the right to participate in trade unions, the right to emergency medical care etc. In addition, State parties must ensure respect for workers’ cultural identity and inform migrant workers of their rights under the Convention.

The site of ratification of the Migrant Workers Convention has not been particularly begun. Later, the Migrant Worker Convention had been ratified acceded to by eleven nations which includes Srilanka, Bosnia, Azerbaijan,Bangladesh, Chile and Turkey etc. In order to encourage the ratification of the convention, the Secretary-General of the Commission of Human Rights and Sub-Commission has also called on the States to consider signing and ratifying the Convention as a matter of priority.

International Law Commission  

The International Law Commission has developed an intent concerning the collision of State successions on the nationality of organic and legitimate persons. At its fifty-first succession, held in Geneva in 1999, the Commission adopted the text of draft articles on the nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States and recommended to the General Assembly the adoption, in the form of declaration of the draft articles. Later on, the Assembly took notes and reiterated its invitation to governments to submit comments and observations on the convention on the nationality of natural persons in relation to the Succession of States, and decided to revisit.

Part 1 of the Draft contains articles basically applied to all cases of State succession and the main conflicts of nationality thereafter.

Part 2 contains the main provisions on the attributions and withdrawal of nationality and on the side of options applicable to different categories of succession to States.

The draft articles on the nationality of natural persons in relation to the succession of States are primarily concerned with the prevention of Statelessness. The draft articles clearly, comprehensively and procedurally prevent Statelessness upon succession of the State. However, to grant nationality to individuals having no effective link with the State.

Citizenship Amendment Act

The Citizenship Amendment Act, which has been passed by the House of Parliament, has basically been laid on the controversy, with opposition parties making controversial statements alleging that it is part of the BJP main agenda. Many people who slammed the Bill both outside and inside the Parliament claimed that it violated Article 14 of the Constitution.

Does Article 14 apply to non-citizens

  • Article 14 of the Indian Constitution essentially guarantees equality before the law, which states that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law and the equal protection of the laws in India.
  • Equality before law implies that the State is bound to treat every class of people without any discrimination, and not frame the rules that discrimination between two people.
  • Article 14 is applicable not just to Indian citizens but also extends benefits of equality to anyone within the territory, even a foreigner.

Reasons for discriminations among non-citizens 

The Constitution of India provides for positive discrimination. However, the CAA extends the principles to prosecute the minorities in the sub-continent. By the Constitution Amendment Act 2019, a provision has been further added to Section 2 (1) (b) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, basically modifying the main scenario of illegal migrants and specifying that person belonging to Hindu, Sikh etc community from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who entered India before the 31st December 2014 will not be treated as illegal migrants. The purpose for enacting Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 is basically to give citizenship to the person of such community who has faced a harsh prosecution in these three countries as these communities are the minority communities in the Islamic arena. The people of the above minority community basically now living in India were made to flee from these countries due to the intolerance and brutality towards them due to religion.

Blasphemy laws in these countries are so strict that proving innocence lies on the accused and not the complainant. The main punishment for blasphemy is death. The terror in the mind of the main community of being implicated in its false cases of blasphemy has come to the light in many instances. As the United States and other European countries have strong tactics to be followed against such acts particularly towards the harassment of Christian communities. The fear has arisen to such extent that Pakistan lawyers appearing on the behalf of such accused have faced threats to life.

Universal Instruments of Protection 

Joined Nation Treaties and Instruments 

  • The United Declaration of Human Right, 1948 – This archive characterizes the basic privileges of the individuals, paying little heed to the lawful status. Article 14(1) states that everybody has equivalent rights to move to different nations as a refuge.
  • Convention Relating to the Status of a Stateless Person, 1960- This places the States under obligation of facilitating the assimilation and naturalization of a Stateless person under Article 32



The entire lights for non-citizens have focused on the rights of such groups, such as refugees, stateless people etc. However, some has been done to identify the common predicaments, needs and approaches for the rectification of diverse groups of non-citizens. Diverse groups of non-citizens and their advocacy and interests have conventionally observed themselves as unrelated and their issues are unique, irrespective of their similar goals and same circumstances. Moreover, International law and procedures pertaining to non-citizens have currently put a focal point on non-citizens subdivisions in between the neglecting broader defence for non-citizens as a whole. Various United Nations institutions have designated special rapporteur on themes such as migrant workers, indigenous people, refugees etc. Similarly, several treaties have been designated to protect these people. As these deeds are essential and do not crossway so much as to be supplied non-essentially, a combined attempt for the protection of non-citizens is even though required.

Since the seven standards of Human Rights understandings follow with a large number of the challenges experienced by non-residents, the State ought to likewise seek after the all-inclusive sanction and usage for those arrangements. As the issues identifying with the treatment of non-residents emerge under every one of the seven standards of human rights arrangements, it would be alluring for the bargain bodies to facilitate their work more productively.


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