Repot of the 40th Plenary Assembly of the SADC-Parliamentary Forum, Theme: Statelessness in the SADC Region

Published: 15/Nov/2016
Source: Southern Africa Parliamentary Forum

Held in Harare, Zimbabwe, 3 to 15 November 2016


1.1 In line with Strategic Goal Number Seven (07), the Role of Parliament in National Development, the strategy to analyse and debate policies and legislation for national development, the 40th Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum was convened in Harare, Zimbabwe from 03 to 15 November 2016 under the theme, “Statelessness in the SADC Region”. Thirteen countries (13) countries were represented at the Plenary which included: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.



3.1 Five (5) resource persons made presentations on the theme and these included:-

Mr. R. Tabagwa, the Country Representative from the United Nations Refugees Agency (UNHCR) in Zimbabwe;

Mr. M. Reuss, the Senior Regional Protection Officer on Statelessness of the UNHCR in Southern Africa;

Mr. T. Mabonga an Associated Protection Officer of the UNHCR in Zimbabwe;

Ms. I. Matambanadzo, a Gender Specialist, and

Ms. L. Muller, the Director of Statelessness Program and Lawyers for Human Rights in South Africa.

3.2 It was noted that Statelessness is a global problem affecting about 10 million people without nationality. In Southern Africa, there are hundreds of thousands of people who are stateless.

3.3 Causes of Statelessness emanate from forced displacements, inaccessibility of services by public administrations, disintegration of traditional family bonds, discrimination on the grounds of gender and non-recognition of migrant workers, among others.

3.4 The impacts of Statelessness include lack of identity for the affected persons, challenges in getting married, denial of property rights, and inaccessibility to social services such as health, education and restrictions of movement, among others. The most affected groups are women, children, refugees and migrant workers, who 111 times of conflict and upheaval, experience amplified levels of sexual violence. The Plenary noted that women carry a disproportionate responsibility in raising children conceived out of conflict situations.

3.5 National Governments were urged to scale up political commitment to address specific vulnerabilities of stateless women and children in a humanitarian manner.

3.6 International and regional agreements which protect the rights of stateless include the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness as well as the African Cha1ter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

3. 7 National Parliaments were called upon to accede to these instruments, support the drafting, adoption and ratification of protocols and work towards the  development and adoption of a SADC Ministerial Declaration and Action Plan on Statelessness. Parliaments within the region were implored to note the vacuum in the appropriate and enabling legislation to mitigate and eliminate the root causes of statelessness and initiate legislative reforms that address identified gaps or challenges, including discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion or gender, thereby helping to prevent statelessness.

3.8 In their individual capacities, Parliamentarians were urged to join the “I belong” campaign which is a Global Plan of Action to End Statelessness by 2024,  spearheaded by the UNHCR

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Themes: Acquisition by children, African standards, International standards, Naturalisation and Marriage, Statelessness
Regions: Southern Africa
Year: 2016