Comparative Study on Status Neutral Travel Documents

Publication date: May 1, 2011
Publication author: Dr. Antje Herrberg, Rainer Hofmann, Dr. John Packer

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The issuance of passports is the most established way for states to certify an individual’s identity. Until this present day, the holding of a passport enables its owner to pursue travel to other countries whilst also providing its holder the right to the re-entry of his or her own country. Yet, the issuance of passports is not entirely universal as it might not fit the needs of specific populations. A variety of ‘abnormal’ situations do exist—most often due to the consequence of an armed conflict— which have resulted in the creation and use of non-standard travel documents.

The issuance of Status Neutral Travel Documents by the Government of Georgia to residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia could give the habitual residents and citizens of these regions the opportunity to travel abroad with documentation that might be acceptable to the international community. This paper reviews and assesses relevant international law and practice regarding such travel documents, alongside presenting carefully considered case studies that provide for lessons learned from situations that created the need for issuing alternatives to passports. It was commissioned under the project ‘EU policy advice to Georgia and its strategy for engagement.’

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