Nigeria: Domesticating the Abidjan Declaration on statelessness

Published: 29/Mar/2017
Source: News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

A News Analysis by Lizzy Okoji

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is championing the Global Action Plan to end statelessness in the world within 10 years.

According to the United Nations, statelessness is a phenomenon whereby a person does not belong to any nationality.

The grave consequence of such situation is that such an individual lacks the privilege of enjoying basic fundamental human rights.


Nigeria is one of the countries that had ratified the declaration with commitments to tackle the root causes of statelessness in the country.

However, two years down the line, the Abidjan Declaration has yet to be domesticated and implemented in Nigeria, raising concern among concerned citizens that the document might suffer the same fate as many other international agreements.

In order to put the issue of statelessness on the front burner in Nigeria, UNHCR and ECOWAS have, therefore, set aside March 28 to commemorate the second anniversary of the Abidjan Declaration.

The event is expected to bring together stakeholders to discuss achievements so far recorded and share ideas on the way forward to ending statelessness in Nigeria.

Three focal organisations — UNHCR, ECOWAS and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) and Civil Society Organisations — have been doing a lot to end the scourge and protect persons at risk in Nigeria.

Mr Hollo Roger, UNHCR Nigeria’s Senior Liaison Officer with ECOWAS, said part of the UN agency’s commitment to ending statelessness in Nigeria was taking the necessary steps to identify those at risk of statelessness.

“In 2016, UNHCR supported the West African Civil Society Forum on mapping of stateless persons and persons at risk of statelessness in the North-East of Nigeria.

“The findings reveal that persons at risk to include almajiris, abandoned and unaccompanied children as a result of displacement, population affected by transfer of territory who have yet to be resettled, reintegrated (as in the case of Bakassi Peninsula) and some categories of migrants and pastoralists.

“Progress has been made in UNHCR’s advocacy which led to the drafting of a national action plan to eradicate statelessness in Nigeria,’’ he said.

He further said that the draft national plan had been presented to the Ministry of Interior and for approval.

He said that the signing of the Tripartite Agreement between the Federal Government and the Republic of Cameroon on March 2, for the voluntary repatriation of Nigerian Refugees would also serve as a means of identifying and properly reducing potential risk of statelessness.


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Themes: Statelessness
Regions: Nigeria
Year: 2017