Spain - Supreme Court (Contentious-Administrative Chamber), judgment no. 470/2017 (appeal no. 2610/2016)

The applicant, of Palestinian origin, applied for stateless status, arguing that Spain does not recognise Palestine as a State. The Supreme Court rejected her application arguing that many countries in the international community recognise Palestine as a state, implying that Palestine provided the applicant with protection.

Case name (in original language)
Sentencia del Tribunal Supremo 470/2017, Sala de lo Contencioso, recurso nº 2610/2016
Case status
Case number
ECLI: ES:TS:2017:994
Supreme Court (Contentious-Administrative Chamber), judgment no. 470/2017, ECLI: ES:TS:2017:994, 21 March 2017
Date of decision
Court / UN Treaty Body
Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo)
Language(s) the decision is available in
Applicant's country of birth
Applicant's country of residence
Relevant Legislative Provisions

Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, 28 September 1954

Ley Orgánica 4/2000, de 11 de enero, sobre derechos y libertades de los extranjeros en España y su integración social (Aliens Act). 

Real Decreto 865/2001, de 20 de julio, por el que se aprueba el Reglamento de reconocimiento del estatuto de apátrida (Status Determination Procedure Regulation). 


The applicant of Palestinian origin, in possession of a Palestinian passport, applied for stateless status, based on the fact that Spain does not recognise Palestine as a State. The National High Court rejected her application, a decision which was later upheld by the Supreme Court. The court stated that even though Spain does not recognise Palestine as a State, the country is recognised by a variety of countries in the international community. This, together with the fact that the applicant held a Palestinian passport, implied that Palestine could provide protection to the applicant, which excluded her from acquiring stateless status.

Decision & Reasoning
  1. According to the applicant, a State must grant the stateless status to all nationals whose States are not recognised by it, regardless the degree of acceptance of those in the international arena. However, such thesis cannot be accepted because it would go against the configuration of statelessness, which is intended to provide protection to any person who does not have the protection and support of a State. For this purpose, it is irrelevant whether or not the decision-making State recognises the State of the applicant's nationality, since this point is innocuous for the purposes that the institution intends: recognised or not by the decision-making State, the State of origin grants protection to their nationals, and that fact excludes statelessness.
  1. The Palestinian State has been recognised by more than 130 countries, including nine from the European Union, having obtained acceptance in different international organisations, among which it is worth highlighting its position as Observer State of the United Nations since November 2012. It is from that Palestinian State of which the applicant is a national, possessing the corresponding passport, which is, according to the response of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the diligence of the Court of Instance, “an ordinary passport issued by the Palestinian Authority” and that “allows its bearer to return to territory currently controlled by the Palestinian Authority”. Consequently, it is from that Palestinian State that the applicant is a citizen, and, therefore, she does not meet the basic requirements for obtaining the stateless status.

No violation. The Supreme Court upheld the inferior court’s decision rejecting the applicant’s statelessness status request.

Caselaw cited

Sentencia del Tribunal Supremo nº 1330/2014, de 22 de diciembre de 2008