• Judit Bek
There are millions of children in the world without having their birth registered. The lack of birth certificate, however means the lack of legal identity and nationality, which leads to statelessness. This phenomenon tends to be overlooked, given that such people are effectively invisible to the countries due to the lack of their social contract with the state.
Thailand is one of the leading countries in the world with hundreds of thousands stateless people within its borders. It is also among the top destination countries for migrant workers in Southeast Asia with serious issues related to irregular migration. Therefore, the research question of this paper stemmed from the consideration that undocumented foreign labourers do not register the birth of their children in Thailand.
After studying the most relevant academic literatures, and those international agreements and domestic legislative acts that govern the lives of migrants in Thailand, it was concluded that there are special regulations in the country regarding irregular migrants and refugees. Consequently, this Thesis paper attempted to investigate how the above-mentioned people are trying to navigate in Thailand and how it affects their decision not to register the birth of their children, even though the Convention on the Rights of the Children suggests that every child should be registered immediately after birth.
It was found that the anti-immigrant attitudes in Thailand are rooted in the nationalist movement when ‘Thai-ness’ and ‘otherness’ were created. One of the main victims of these distinctions have been immigrants, especially those coming from the neighbouring countries. They are considered to be unable to get integrated into the Thai society and with the support of the population, the Thai government introduced strict measures against those who migrate to the country irregularly. According to the Thai regulations these people can be deported to their country of origin. Therefore, it is argued that irregular migrants and urban refugees tend to live underground in order to avoid revealing their status. In doing so, they do not register the birth of their children.
A significant portion of this paper deals with the legislative acts that regulate the registration of foreign workers, asylum seekers and the birth of their children. As a consequence of strict and inconsistent rules, as well as the bureaucratic obstacles, migrants tend to evade the registration. Although displaced people in refugee camps have access to the birth registration of their children, due to their alternative livelihoods there, they are not fully aware of the consequences of the lack of birth certificate and thus the lack of nationality. Therefore, non-governmental organizations and their awareness-raising programs are crucial in this issue.
The main findings indicate that the outcome of the Thai regulations regarding immigration and foreign labour, irregular migrants and refugees rather stay underground and do not register the birth of their children. However, as a consequence, children become effective stateless which entails many vulnerabilities. It is a further question, if these children can reposition themselves from the margin of the society.
SpecialisationGlobal Refugee Studies
Publication date31 May 2018
Number of pages54
ID: 280185133