Stateless Bidun of Kuwait: must now be able to proclaim:“Ana Kuwaiti” / I am Kuwaiti

Stateless Bidun of Kuwait 

must now be able to proclaim:“Ana Kuwaiti” / I am Kuwaiti

Summary: Kuwait faces an election in December 2020. What is at stake for Kuwait’s stateless Bidun community 

Projected audience: Bidun community (to serve as legitimation of concern and expression of support); Bidun rights activists; Kuwaiti nationals; non-Kuwaiti / Gulf nationals interested in the issue; non-regional journalists, policy makers, relevant NGOs (to provide information and an update)

Date: Saturday 24 October 2020 (United Nations Day)

Time: 17.00 – 19.00 UK / 19.00 – 21.00 Kuwait




Sponsors (italics – with speakers): 

  1. Amnesty International (international human rights campaign organisation)
  2. European Network on Statelessness (regional umbrella body on statelessness)
  3. Hawiati (MENA regional umbrella body on statelessness)
  4. Institute of Statelessness and Inclusion
  5. Kuwaiti Community Association
  6. Kuwait Watch organization for Human Rights
  7. Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights
  8. Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights
  9. Human Rights Watch
  10. Muwatin (Omani media platform)
  11. Richardson Institute, Lancaster University
  12. Rights Realization Centre
  13. MENA Rights Group
  14. Salam for Democracy and Human Rights, Institute on Stateless and Inclusion
  15. United Stateless
  16. University of Birmingham, Department of Political Science and International Studies

Sponsors without speakers 

  1. European Network on Statelessness
  2. Institute of Statelessness and Inclusion
  3. Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights
  4. Muwatin
  5. Richardson Institute, Lancaster University
  6. MENA Rights Group
  7. University of Birmingham, Department of Political Science and International Studies


United Nations Day 2020 provides the opportunity to reflect on the values represented by the institution. Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that “Everyone has the right to a nationality”. This appears not to have been the case for between 90-120,000 residents of Kuwait. Some residents, for a variety of reasons, did not register for nationality when Kuwait became independent in 1961, and over time the community’s legal status transformed from ‘without nationality’ to that of ‘illegal resident’. Terminology aside, it remains a persistent problem in 2020.

In 2014 the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) launched the 10-year “I Belong” campaign to end statelessness. Having passed its halfway mark, how has Kuwait, a significant contributor to UN programmes, fared in implementing the aim of the campaign? 

In late September 2020 the government confirmed the appointment of a new head of state, the Emir of Kuwait, Nawaf al-Sabah. In October, the government narrowly failed to pass controversial legislation that looked set to prolong the statelessness of up to 120 thousand people. The legal status of the stateless Bidun now hinges on parliamentary elections scheduled for December 2020. For decades, United Nations human rights bodies have called on Kuwait to accede and adhere to international standards relating to statelessness. Is Kuwait’s political leadership finally willing to live up to these calls? Can Kuwaiti society now accept that, save for a few instances, the stateless Bidun are equally as indigenous to the land as those accorded citizenship? How do the stateless Bidun experience and live under this iniquitous legal framework? Has the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated suffering? Does the December 2020 election hold any promise of change? How have existing legal constructs impacted on people and countries outside of Kuwait? A further generation of stateless persons’ lives are now in the balance. How will Kuwait and the international community treat them?





Slot (mins) / [cumulative time] Who / Affiliation / Location What Comments / Language


5 [5] Drewery Dyke, Rights Realization Centre Introduction and housekeeping Review running order; time for questions


5 [10] Nasser al-Anezi

Kuwaiti Community Centre

Introduction: the view of a veteran activist outside Kuwait DD – review intervention


17.10 – 17.35

19.10 – 19.35

25 [35] Bidun perspective on current developments: interview and statements with – 

Hakim al-Fadhli

Ahmad Jaber

Batul al-Shammari

Exchanges with the named activists and scholars and well as an opportunity for them to make their own comments Summary of recent events and how the Bidun community 

Interview by Drewery Dyke, English

17:35 – 17:45

19.35 – 19.45

10 [45] Nawaf al-Hendal, Kuwait Watch Organisation, Kuwait Assessment of the Kuwaiti population in relation to current situation English
17.45 – 17.55

19.45 – 19.55

10 [55] Hadeel BuQrais, Kuwait The place of activism in supporting the Bidun community English
17.55 – 18.10

19.55 – 20.10

15 [1.10] Mohammad al-Humaidi, lawyer and former chair, Kuwait Society for Human Rights, Kuwait Legal assessment of the laws under consideration Arabic
18.10 – 18.25

20.10 – 20.25

15 [1.20] Questions and comments on the first half of the event Remember to preface the start of the second half
18.25 – 18.35

20.25 – 20.35

10 [1.30] Andreas Björklund, Oxford University A typology of Bidoon asylum-seekers in Europe: documents, deportability, and persecution Explores  impact outside the country
18.35 – 18.45

20.35 – 20.45

10 [1.40] Shaymaa al-Enezi, Researcher / SALAM DHR  Regularizing the National: Processes of Persecution, International Regulation, and Complicity Explores treatment in asylum systems in, viz, Europe
18.45 – 18.55

20.35 – 20.55

10 [1.50] Jawad Fairooz Director, SALAM DHR and Nasser al-Anezi, Kuwaiti Community Centre Launch of the AnaKuwaiti social media and website What is the purpose of the website? Who is it for? 
18.55 – 19.20

20.55 – 21.20

25 [2.15] Thoughts, reflections, challenges, aspirations, actions needed: reactions on where we are at and the challenges:

  1. Claire Beaugrand, Exeter University
  2. Catherine Harrington, Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights
  3. Zahra al-Barazi, Hawiati
  4. Devin Kenney, Amnesty International
  5. Danah AbdulAziz, United Stateless
  6. Tara Sepehrifar, Human Rights Watch
Drewery Dyke invites named speakers to offer very brief thoughts about the issue and what can be done.
19.20 – 19.30

21.20 – 21.30

10 [2.00] Final comments, observations and farewell (some may wish to continue speaking after the end of the formal session) Moderated by Drewery Dyke, English