Stronger efforts are needed to resolve the plight of those who lack a nationality, urged UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, today on the 8th anniversary of UNHCR’s global #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness.
Affecting at least 4.3 million people, statelessness is a pervasive and grave human rights violation.
“Deprived of the fundamental right to a nationality, those who have been born or left stateless face a devastating legal limbo. They are prevented from accessing their basic human rights and from fully participating in society. Their lives are marked by exclusion, deprivation, and marginalization,” said Grandi.
“While we have seen great progress in the past few years to remedy this blight on humanity, much more political commitment and effort is needed to improve the lives of the millions languishing without citizenship and living in the shadows.”
Mandated by 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 decade-long #IBelong Campaign in 2014 to draw attention and support to resolve the issue.
Solutions have been found since the campaign’s launch. Almost 450,000 stateless people have acquired or had their nationality confirmed, and tens of thousands of people across Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas now also have a pathway to citizenship as a result of newly enacted legislative changes. Twenty-one states introduced procedures to identify stateless people on their territory and facilitate their naturalization. Thirty accessions have been made by states to one or both of the UN Statelessness Conventions.
Across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, statelessness civil society regional networks have also been established, adding to those already in place in Europe and the Americas.
Three countries have reformed gender discriminatory nationality laws – a root cause of statelessness, though 24 continue to deny women equal rights to grant nationality to their children, on the same basis as men. Progress also continues to stall across some major situations of statelessness, often rooted in discrimination based on race, religion or ethnicity.
“While statelessness remains a global problem, with many different causes, it is one that can be remedied through, often very simple, local solutions,” Grandi said.
“I appeal to governments and legislators around the world to use the next two years of the campaign to accelerate action and close the legal and policy gaps that continue to leave millions of people behind.”