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Nansen Passport (Cover)

Nansen passports were internationally recognized identity cards first issued by the League of Nations to stateless refugees. Designed in 1922 by Fridtjof Nansen, in 1942 they were honored by governments in 52 countries and were the first refugee travel documents. Approximately 450,000 Nansen passports were issued, helping hundreds of thousands of stateless people to immigrate to a country that would have them. The Nansen International Office for Refugees was awarded the 1938 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to establish the Nansen passports.

The Nansen passport was developed as a result of a series of citizenship laws in European countries, including but not limited to the United Kingdom, Germany and France, that excluded millions of ethnic minorities that were erstwhile residents in their countries from citizenships. These stateless people were either imprisoned in detention camps, as in Weimar Germany, or forcibly removed from their homes but with nowhere else to go.[1]. Hundreds of thousands of them stayed permanently abroad. It proved to be a great success, one of the few that could be attributed to the League of Nations.

While Nansen passports are no longer issued, present national authorities, including the United Nations, issue documents for stateless people and refugees. These include: Certificate of Identity (or Alien's Passport), Travel Document (also known as a "Refugee Travel Document") and Laissez-Passer.


  1. ^ Mazower, Mark (1998), Dark Continent, The Penguin Press  


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