Efforts need to be redoubled to resolve the plight of people without nationality, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi urged today on the eighth anniversary of UNHCR’s #IBelong (I Belong) global campaign to end statelessness.
Statelessness, which affects at least 4.3 million people, is a widespread and serious violation of human rights.
“Deprived of the fundamental right to a nationality, those who were born or have become stateless face a devastating legal limbo. They are prevented from accessing their basic human rights and participating fully in society. Their lives are marked by exclusion, deprivation and marginalization,” Grandi noted.
“Although we have seen great progress in recent years to remedy this misfortune of humanity, much more political commitment and effort is needed to improve the lives of the millions who languish without citizenship and live in the shadows.”
With a mandate from the international community to identify and protect stateless people, and to prevent and reduce statelessness around the world, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, launched the #IBelong campaign in 2014, lasting than a decade, to get attention and support to solve the problem.
Since the launch of the campaign, solutions have been found. More than 450,000 stateless people have acquired or had their nationality confirmed, and tens of thousands of people from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas now also have a path to citizenship as a result of recently enacted legislative changes. Twenty-one States have introduced procedures to identify stateless persons on their territory and facilitate their naturalization. Thirty states have acceded to one or both of the UN Statelessness Conventions.
Regional civil society networks on statelessness have also been created in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, adding to those already existing in Europe and the Americas.
Three countries have reformed gender-discriminatory nationality laws, one of the main causes of statelessness, although 24 continue to deny women equal rights to grant nationality to their children, on the same terms as men . Progress also remains stalled in some of the major situations of statelessness, often rooted in discrimination based on race, religion or ethnicity.
“Although statelessness remains a global problem, with many different causes, it can be remedied through local solutions, often very simple,” Grandi said.
“I urge governments and lawmakers around the world to use the next two years of the campaign to accelerate action and close the legal and public policy gaps that continue to leave millions of people behind.”
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees