UNHCR issues these Guidelines pursuant to its mandate responsibilities to address statelessness. These responsibilities were initially limited to stateless persons who were refugees as set out in paragraph 6 (A) (II) of the UNHCR Statute and Article 1 (A) (2) of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. To undertake the functions foreseen by Articles 11 and 20 of the 1961Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, UNHCR’s mandate was expanded to cover persons falling under the terms of that Convention by General Assembly Resolutions 3274 (XXIX) of 1974 and 31/36 of 1976.The Office was entrusted with responsibilities for stateless persons generally under UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusion 78, which was endorsed by the General Assembly in Resolution 50/152 of 1995. Subsequently, in Resolution 61/137 of 2006, the General Assembly endorsed Executive Committee Conclusion 106 which sets out four broad areas of responsibility for UNHCR:the identification, prevention and reduction of statelessness and the protection of stateless persons.
These Guidelines result from a series of expert consultations conducted in the context of the 50th Anniversary of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and build in particular on the Summary Conclusions of the Expert Meeting on Interpreting the 1961 Statelessness Convention and Preventing Statelessness among Children,held in Dakar, Senegal in May 2011.
These Guidelines are intended to provide interpretative legal guidance for governments, NGOs, legal practitioners, decision-makers and the judiciary, as well as for UNHCR staff and other UN agencies involved in addressing statelessness.