Better Must Come: Citizenship and Belonging after Statelessness

  • Patrick Balazo
Keywords: Citizenship, Statelessness, Human Rights, #IBELONG, Sri Lanka, Up-country Tamil


In light of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee’s global #IBELONG Campaign to end statelessness by 2024, this paper examines the benefits of citizenship acquisition among Sri Lanka’s previously stateless Up-Country Tamil population. From 1948 until 2003, the Up-Country Tamil population was stateless and excluded from the Sri Lankan political process, though with the 2003 grant of citizenship Sri Lanka was celebrated as an example of what it means to successfully end statelessness. Using a liberal theory of citizenship extended by the Rancièrian concept of dissensus, and based on qualitative interviews and questionnaire surveys conducted in Sri Lanka between July and August 2016, this paper identifies potential shortcomings of citizenship acquisition that clash with the promise of the #IBELONG Campaign and the narrative of Sri Lanka’s success in ending statelessness: a rural rights deficit and a shared absence of belonging despite the acquisition of citizenship.

How to Cite
Balazo, P. (2019). Better Must Come: Citizenship and Belonging after Statelessness. The Statelessness & Citizenship Review, 1(1), 5–41. Retrieved from