Guidance Note of the Secretary-General: The United Nations and Statelessness

Published: 1/Nov/2018
Source: United Nations

The present Note provides guidance to the UN system on addressing statelessness by outlining guiding principles and policy framework for action. The UN engagement in addressing statelessness is guided by seven principles that support the development, promotion and implementation of international norms relating to statelessness.

In addition to the seven guiding principles, four concrete interrelated approaches on how the UN system can improve its coordinated response to statelessness are outlined. In conclusion, the Note suggests required institutional arrangements for various actors within the UN system. A list of resources on statelessness is attached to assist UN colleagues engaged on this issue.

The policy framework for action presented in the Note is the result of an assessment of international legal standards and the experience of the UN in addressing statelessness to date, including through the UNHCR-led #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness by 2024, the UNICEF-UNHCR Coalition on Every Child’s Right to a Nationality, and other relevant initiatives.

A. Guiding Principles

  1. Base action on international norms and standards related to nationality and statelessness
  2. Recognize the central role of States and work with affected populations and civil society
  3. Promote and support action to prevent statelessness
  4. Respect, protect and help ensure enjoyment of the human rights of stateless persons and provide for their specific protection needs
  5. Promote the acquisition of nationality as the primary solution
  6. Recognize and redress discrimination as a common cause and consequence of statelessness
  7. Guarantee gender equality in nationality laws and their implementation to prevent statelessness

B. Addressing Statelessness

  1. Identification of stateless persons
  2. Prevention of statelessness
  3. Reduction of statelessness
  4. Protection of stateless persons

C. UN System Arrangements

The UN General Assembly has entrusted the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with a mandate relating to the identification, prevention, and reduction of statelessness and protection of stateless persons. However, all UN entities system-wide have an important role to play in achieving these objectives and must increase their efforts to address this important issue. The UN should tackle both the causes and consequences of statelessness as a key priority within the Organization’s broader efforts to strengthen the rule of law and promote human rights, taking advantage of early momentum provided by the #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness by 2024.

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Themes: Statelessness
Regions: International
Year: 2018