SATUCC Conducts Two National Workshops on Preventing Statelessness and Protecting Rights of Stateless Persons in South Africa
Source: Southern African Trade Union Co-ordination Council
SATUCC in collaboration with Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (RLF), and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Regional Representation for Southern Africa (UNHCR ROSA), conducted two national workshops on Preventing Statelessness and Protecting Stateless Persons in South Africa. These workshops were conducted in South Africa: one in Musina from 21st to 22nd September 2017 and another in Cape Town from 28th to 29th September 2017.
These two workshops brought together four affiliate national federations of SATUCC namely Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU), Federation of Democratic Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA), National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU) and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
The two workshops noted with concern that statelessness is a critical human rights issue that currently affects at least 10 million people globally. Given the remarkable fact that a stateless child is born every 10 minutes and that statelessness is widely understood to have a devastating human impact, it was acknowledged that the scourge of statelessness has not received the attention it deserves.
The two workshops also discussed the various levels and definitions of statelessness. It was noted that a person is stateless if no State considers him or her as a national/citizen under the operation of its law. Statelessness is widely understood to have a devastating human impact. Some stateless persons are migrants, others have never left their country of origin. Women and children are particularly exposed to the risk.
It was further noted at the two workshops that statelessness is referred to as an invisible problem because statelessness persons remain invisible and unheard. They often aren’t allowed to go to school, see a doctor, open a bank account, buy a house or even get married. Denial of these rights impacts not only on the individuals concerned but also on society at large.
In many countries in SADC region, various specific causes have led to statelessness, such as shortcomings in birth registration and the movement of migrant workers, who may have lost ties to their country of origin.
The participants at the two workshops made the following recommendations:
SATUCC and affiliates should call upon SADC Member States and in particular the South African Government to:
- Resolve any existing situations of statelessness within respective countries;
- Review the legislative frameworks and administrative practices in nationality matters with a view to ensure their consistency with international standards on the prevention and resolution of statelessness, as well as on protection of stateless persons;
- Initiate legislative reforms that addresses any identified gaps or challenges, including any discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, or gender, thereby helping to prevent statelessness;
- Ensure gender equality as regards the equal right of men and women to pass on their nationality to their children and spouses, and to change or retain their nationality;
- Expedite the implementation of Article 6 (4) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, thereby preventing childhood statelessness;
- Establish and maintain comprehensive birth registration and civil registration systems within Member States with a view to prevent statelessness;
- Accede to the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the 1990 UN Convention on the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families;
- Support the drafting, adoption and ratification of a Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Right to Nationality and the Eradication of Statelessness in Africa;”
- Work towards the development and adoption of a SADC Ministerial Declaration and Action Plan on Statelessness.
- Collaborate to propose at the UN level a day to be set aside in a year to recognise Stateless people as part of awareness raising
SATUCC and affiliates should:
- Develop and implement national and regional trade union advocacy plans and campaigns towards engaging and lobbying governments and their agencies on the 9 Action Points outlined above;
- Collaborate with development partners and civil society organisation in raising awareness of the workers and the public in general around the prevention of statelessness and the protection of stateless persons at both national and regional level;
- Conduct capacity building activities for workers/trade unions on Statelessness at both national and regional level;
- Integrate Statelessness in trade union activities such as organising, education and research at both national and regional level particularly incorporating it in trade union work on Human and Trade Union Rights;
- Advance Statelessness to become a critical issue for discussion in the relevant social dialogue platforms at both national and regional level
These conclusions were later submitted as resolutions on Statelessness to the SATUCC 10th Delegates Congress held on 27th October 2017 in Dar-es-salaam where they were discussed and adopted.