12 June 2015
Contributing to the European Network on Statelessness (ENS) conference on childhood statelessness in Europe, Khrystyna Kolesen presented her paper, ‘Tackling childhood statelessness in Ukraine’. She outlined the situation that currently exists in Ukraine, looking into how, since its formation in 1991, the country has introduced a national legislative basis for citizenship. Furthermore, she indicated how legislative gaps result in statelessness remaining a problem in Ukraine, leaving children legally invisible and without any possibility of realising their basic rights.
The latest population census in Ukraine in 2001 suggested that there were over 82,000 stateless persons in Ukraine, 17,000 of whom are children. While the 2014 UNHCR statistics indicate that there has been progress in rectifying this situation, with 35,504 persons now falling under their statelessness mandate, the report makes clear that without a specific body engaged in resolving the problem of statelessness, and the inactivity of public authorities, it is difficult to establish exactly how many other persons remain stateless, or are just living without valid identification documents in Ukraine. Suggested factors behind why some people in Ukraine have no nationality result from: specific historical events; gaps in national legislation; continuous migration flows through Ukraine; cases of children being unregistered at birth; the lack of a governmental body entitled to deal with this issue directly and the unawareness of the population about the problem.
The paper calls for changes to be introduced that would allow for the registration of a child’s birth, even where the parents do not have any identity document or are not legal residents in Ukraine. To do this, the report suggests an extension of legal and administrative assistance in the sphere of birth registration and the issuance of identity documents. It further calls for a survey to be carried out to verify the exact number of stateless persons in Ukraine in order to more effectively direct efforts to combat the problem and to help categorize stateless persons in order to have a specific approach to the challenges they face. It is suggested that having a greater awareness of the scope and the consequences of the problem would aid the development and implementation of both national policies and advocacy campaigns.