On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, UNHCR launched this week the “I Belong” campaign aimed at ending statelessness within 10 years. Statelessness is a limbo for more than 10 million people around the world who lack any nationality and the basic human rights attached to it.
The last few years have seen a significant rise in the number of states acceding to the 1954 and 1961 statelessness conventions: just three years ago, less than 100 States were parties to them, while today the number of accessions stands at 144. In 2014 alone, Gambia, Mozambique, Paraguay, and Peru acceded to the 1954 Convention, while Belgium, Colombia, Gambia, Georgia, Guinea, Mozambique acceded to the to the 1961 Convention on the reduction of Statelessness.
As part of the campaign, UNHCR also released a Special Report on Statelessness which highlights the impact on people of having no nationality, and contains an action plan to end statelessness which aims at resolving major situations of statelessness through law and policy reforms; ensuring that no child is born stateless; preventing the deprivation of nationality on the basis of discrimination; removing gender discrimination in nationality laws so that men and women can equally pass on their nationality to children; granting protection status to stateless migrants and issuing nationality identification documentation to those entitled to it.
“It’s tragic that today millions of people are living without nationality. Unlike many armed conflicts, it is wholly within the power of every concerned government to resolve statelessness. We have the opportunity, as never before, to tackle this injustice” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.
For ideas on how to take action to support the campaign in Europe see this European Network on Statelessness guest blog by UNHCR Europe Bureau Director Vincent Cochetel.
For more information:
- UNHCR, Open Letter to End Statelessness, #IBELONG to a world where everyone has the right to a nationality
- Thomson Reuters Foundation online debate: Can we end statelessness in a decade?
- European Network on Statelessness, Still stateless, still suffering – Why Europe must act now to protect stateless persons, 3 October 2014
- ECRE Weekly Bulletin, UNHCR launches its first online course on statelessness, 11 July 2014
This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 7 November 2014. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.