Statelessness Conventions Talking Points


The United Nations has, on various occasions, manifested its profound concern for stateless persons, and endeavored to assure them the widest possible exercise of their fundamental rights and freedoms.(1)

The NGO Committee on Migration shares this concern for the protection of stateless persons, especially those populations most vulnerable to the scourge of statelessness through the nexus with migration, namely, trafficking victims, refugees, women, and children.(2)

There is an obligation on the part of States and the international community to close the protection gaps and ensure the protection and well being of stateless persons and their families worldwide. Among the most urgent actions are to:

  • Ratify and implement the two Statelessness Conventions(3), especially in conjunction with their 50th anniversary commemoration.
  • Review national legislation and policies to bring them in line with these two and other international Conventions, including:
    Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
    Articles 7 and 8 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
    Article 9 of CEDAW;
    Article 29 of the Migrant Worker Convention;
  • Re-examine Article 3 of the Migrant Worker Convention, which excludes application of the Convention to refugees and stateless persons;
  • Re-examine the Palermo Protocol, which is silent on the repatriation of stateless persons;
  • Develop clear procedures for the determination of statelessness;

In concurrence with the recommendations of the workshop on Statelessness at the 2010 UNHCR NGO Consultation in Geneva, we:

  • Call on the international community to treat statelessness as a human rights issue;
  • Urge Governments to take more ownership of the statelessness issue; and in that context, request the Hungarian presidency of the EU in 2011 to prioritize statelessness and statelessness determination procedures during their presidency;
  • Encourage increasing partnerships with the academic community to develop and carry out good practices such as the annual European course on refugee law (ELENA Course) which has a section on statelessness.

Furthermore, we support the call of UNHCR’s High Commissioner Antonio Guterres for States to:

  • Introduce or revise national legislation to make naturalization for stateless persons and the re-acquisition of nationality by former citizens easier;
  • Improve national birth registration systems, which is crucial to preventing statelessness;
  • Recognize the right of women to confer nationality on their children on an equal basis with men; and in this context, we support UNHCR’s impending initiative to push for legislative reforms by States so that mothers and fathers are equally able to pass citizenship on to their children.(4)
  • Make use of UNHCR’s strategy note, published in March 2010, entitled UNHCR action to address Statelessness, which provides a framework for action, for use by UNHCR staff and partners, including UN agencies, NGO’s, Governments and regional organizations.(5)

We also think that the following actions are called for to reduce, and prevent, the scourge of statelessness:

  • Promote the social, economic, and cultural integration of stateless persons; and ensure their access to social, economic and cultural rights, including educational and health services, especially with reference to women and children;
  • Incorporate a gender perspective in legislation and policies on statelessness;
  • Build protection systems for stateless children, and prevent trafficking of children for labor, sexual and other forms of exploitation;
  • Focus on the challenges of mixed migration;
  • Clarify measures to prevent the indefinite detention of stateless persons, and consider measures alternative to their detention;
  • Foster partnerships at all levels, especially the national and regional , to reduce and end statelessness;
  • Ensure that all stakeholders, including NGO’s and stateless persons, participate in policy formulation and implementation on statelessness.

1. Preamble of the 1960 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons;
2. Jane Bloom, US Liaison Officer, ICMC, presentation A Perilous Realm: the Stateless/Migrant Nexus, at the annual commemoration of International Migrants Day, 17th December 2009, UNHQ, New York;
3. 1960 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons; and 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.4. Statement by UNHCR High Commissioner Antonio Guterres before the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, 65th Session, 2nd November 2010;
4. Statement by UNHCR High Commissioner Antonio Guterres before the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, 65th Session, 2nd November 2010;
5. Report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (A/65/12) p.9, #34.