Nationality, Migration and Statelessness in West Africa

Published: 7/Jun/2015
Source: UNHCR and IOM

By Bronwen Manby. Expert report commissioned by UNHCR and IOM.

Statelessness is a problem of significant but unknown magnitude in West Africa. It is not possible to say how many people are stateless in the sub-region; but it is certain that many hundreds of thousandsof people are at risk of statelessness. That is, there is a possibility or probability that they are “not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law”. This study seeks to show why this is important, both for the rights of the individuals affected and for the stability and effectiveness of the states where they live; to provide a comparative analysis of nationality law in the region and highlight the gaps that allow statelessness; to identify the populations at risk of statelessness and the reasons why statelessness is so prevalent, in particular the links between statelessness and migration; and to make recommendations for the remedies that may address the problem both at national and regional level. These recommendations are directed to actions that may be taken by the institutions of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and by Member States acting within the ECOWAS framework of agreements on free movement, as well as by UN, IOM, and other international agencies.

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Themes: Acquisition of nationality, Sub-regional Standards, Discrimination, Dual Nationality, Loss and Deprivation of Nationality, Nationality and Refugees, State Succession, Border Changes, Statelessness
Regions: West Africa, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo
Year: 2015