Liberian government officials, along with the leaders of various civil society organizations, religious and youth groups have joined together in support of UNHCR’s global campaign against statelessness. “Statelessness is simply a malaise facing mankind which all states must commit to end unconditionally,” said Jeddi Armah, Assistant Minister for Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Armah was one of 35 participants in a two-day Statelessness Workshop held earlier this month in Monrovia, who resolved and called on all relevant authorities to commit to ending statelessness in Liberia.
The Statelessness Workshop was organized by UNHCR and the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) to educate stakeholders such as ministry and other government officials and community groups, on the issues and problems of stateless people. UNHCR launched a global campaign in November 2014 with the goal of ending statelessness within 10 years. Moreover, an important ministerial conference on statelessness in West Africa is to take place on February 25th in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
By definition, a stateless person is one who is not considered a national of any states by the operation of their laws. As a result, a stateless person will not enjoy the rights associated with nationality, including the right to documentation such as having a passport, the right to enter into a contract such as marriage or employment, the right to education and health, and the right to own property. A stateless person also does not benefit from the protection of the State, and will not be able to lodge a claim with the court or the police. “Statelessness is a vast problem that affects at least 10 million people worldwide in both developed and developing countries. It has a grave impact on the lives of individuals and on the harmony of communities,” said UNHCR Representative in Liberia Khassim Diagne.