Legal Protection of Stateless Persons Arising From CrossBorder Marriage: Indonesia and East Timor Case Study

Nanik Trihastuti, Tri Laksmi Indreswari, Daniel René Kandou, Mira Novana Ardani, Diastama Anggita Ramadhan


Statelessness is a continuing international legal issue, with individuals lacking the protection of fundamental rights within the jurisdiction of a State. One aspect contributing to this problem is customary cross-border marriage between people of different nationalities, particularly in local border towns, for a variety of reasons. This study examines the phenomenon as a cause of statelessness and undocumented individuals and what the legal protection that international human rights instruments provide for States to comply. This study uses legal research by comparing the East Timor Constitution. Based on the study's results, the potential for statelessness and undocumented people due to cross-border marriage by custom has a detrimental effect on both women and children since it is difficult for them to obtain residence documents. Cross-border marriages between East Timorese men and Indonesian women by customary causing unregistered in Indonesia and East Timor. Field research shows that Indonesian women/wives in East Timor cannot exercise their rights since they are not East Timorese nationals. Noting the conflict of nationality laws between States, especially bordering States, the failure of both States to accommodate women that married are non-nationals breaches Article 9 of CEDAW and constitutes as discrimination against women defined under Article 1 of CEDAW


Cross-Border Marriage; Nationality; Statelessness

Full Text:



Alice Edwards. (2019). Displacement, Statelessness, and Questions of Gender Equality and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Background paper prepared for a joint UNHCR and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women seminar.

Bloom, Tendayi and Lindsey N. Kingston. (2021). Statelessness, Governance, and the Problem of Citizenship. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Buergenthal, Thomas. (1995). International Human Rights In a Nutshell. Minnesota: West Publishing Company.

Christiani, Theresia Anita (2016). Normative and Empirical Research Methods: Their Usefulness and Relevance in the Study of Law as an Object. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciencesio, 219. doi:

Conda, H. Victor. (1999). A Handbook of International Human Rights Terminology. Lincoln NE: Nebraska Press.

Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste 2002

Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Law 1930

Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons 1954

Doek, Jaap E. (2006). The CRC and The Right to Acquire and To Preserve a Nationality. Refugee Survey Quarterly. 25(3), 26-32. doi:

Edwards, Alice and Laura van Waas (ed). (2014). Nationality and Statelessness under International Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Garner, Bryan A. (ed). (1999). Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th Edition. Minnesota: West Publishing Company.

Harris, D.J.. (1998). Cases and Materials on International Law. London: Sweet and Maxwell.

Hashim, Noraini Md. (2019). Children of Cross-Border Marriage: Rights and Future. International Journal of Academic Research Business and Social Sciences, 9(5), 470-480. doi: 10.6007/IJARBSS/v9-i5/5888.

Law Number 12 of 2006 on the Citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia

Law Number 9 of 2002 on the Citizenship

Leng, Chee Heng and Brenda S.A. Yeoh (2021). Family Social Reproduction: Conflict and Compromise in Cross-Border Marriages between Chinese and Malaysian Men and Vietnamese Women. Institutions and Economies. 13(4), 93-120. Doi:

Marzuki, Peter Mahmud. (2008). Penelitian Hukum, 2nd Edition. Jakarta: Kencana.

McDougal, Myres S., Harold D. Lasswell and Lung-chu Chen (1974). Nationality and Human Rights: The Protection of the Individual in External Arenas. Yale Law Journal, 83(5), 900-998. doi:

Orend, Brian. (2002). Human Rights: Concept and Context. Ontario: Broadview Press.

Phukongchai, Phonwichain (2022). Complex Citizenship from Below among Cross-Border Families in a Thai-Lao Border Community. Journal of Mekong Societies, 18(1), 198-223. doi:

Samore, William (1951). Statelessness as a Consequence of the Conflict of Nationality Laws. American Journal of International Law. 45(3), 476-494. doi:

Smith, Rhona K. M.. (2007). Textbook on International Human Rights, 3rd Edition. New York: Oxford University Press.

Starke, J.G.. (2008) Pengantar Hukum Internasional. Jakarta: Sinar Grafika.

Teresa Yeo, Research: 50,000 undocumented and stateless children in Malaysia, Citizens Journal, 2012,, (accessed 6 September 2022).

Tucker, Jason (2014). Questioning de facto Statelessness: By looking at de facto Citizenship. Tilburg Law Review, 19, 276-284. doi: 10.1163/22112596-01902026.

UNFPA (2018). Sino-Vietnamese Cross-Border Marriage in the Context of Sex Imbalance: View from China. Beijing: UNFPA Country Office in China.

UNHCR Executive Committee. (2009). Conclusions Adopted by The Executive Committee on the International Protection of Refugees: 1975 – 2009(Conclusion No. 1 – 109)

Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948

Williams, Lucy. (2021). Global Marriage: Cross-Border Marriage Migration in Global Context. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ziemele, Ineta. (2007). A Commentary on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: Article 7 on the Right to Birth Registration, Name and Nationality, and the Right to Know and Be Cared for by Parents. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.


  • There are currently no refbacks.