UNHCR calls for stronger fight against statelessness

By Staff Reporter


The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says since starting the #IBelong Campaign in 2014 to end statelessness, over 166, 000 people have been settled across the world.

The UN Refugee Agency has however called for more resolute action by states.

UNHRC called on states to take faster and more resolute action to help meet the campaign goal.

“Today I call on politicians, governments and legislators around the world to act now, to take and support decisive action to eliminate statelessness globally by 2024,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement released in Geneva today. “Humanly, ethically and politically it is the right thing to do. Every person on this planet has the right to nationality and the right to say I BELONG.”

Grandi stated that since November 2014 when the campaign was launched, more than 166, 000 stateless people had acquired or had their nationality confirmed.

He stated that 20 states had acceded to the Statelessness Conventions, bringing the total number of parties to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons to 91 and 73 to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Grandi stated that nine states had established or improved statelessness determination procedures, six states reformed their nationality laws and another two have eliminated gender discrimination preventing women from passing on their nationality to their children.

He further stated that national plans to end statelessness had been formally adopted in nine countries.

Grandi however stated that despite these accomplishments, millions remained stateless and living in limbo around the world, with the majority to be found in countries in Asia and Africa.

He stated that it was difficult to determine with precision how many people were stateless or at risk of statelessness worldwide.

“Stateless people still face huge barriers to exercising fundamental human rights. Eradicating statelessness requires eliminating discrimination from nationality laws and practices,’’ stated Grandi. ‘’States like Kenya, Kyrgyzstan and Thailand are paving the way, showing that with political will and commitment, and concerted national efforts, the lives of tens of thousands of people can be transformed through the acquisition of nationality.”   

According to UNHCR, only 25 countries around the world retain gender discrimination in their nationality laws that prevent mothers from conferring their nationality to their children on an equal basis as men – with Madagascar and Sierra Leone being the most recent countries to change these laws. 

In almost every region of the world, a declaration and action plan to address statelessness has been launched. 

With a view to boosting the capacity of parliaments and legislators to effectively prevent and reduce statelessness and identify and protect stateless persons, UNHCR in cooperation with the International Parliamentary Union is releasing a new handbook on “Good Practices in Nationality Laws for the Prevention and Reduction of Statelessness.”