UNHCR Campaign to End Statelessness update Jul-Oct 2019

Published: 1/Nov/2019
Source: UNHCR

Highlights from Africa:

  • Angola acceded to both the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
  • The adoption of National Action Plans to Eradicate Statelessness in Niger, Eswatini and the Central African Republic.


Mobilizing governments and civil society

Preparatory meetings ahead of the High-Level Segment on Statelessness were organized in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and in Southern Africa. On 4 July the Kingdom of Morocco hosted a preparatory meeting for the MENA region which was attended by 27 government officials from 11 countries, as well as representatives from the League of Arab States, the African Union, and UNHCR. The meeting served to encourage a coordinated regional approach and dialogue on best practices in addressing statelessness. It also created an opportunity for States to consider country-level achievements and pledges to be showcased at the High-Level Segment. On 30 August, UNHCR convened a preparatory meeting for Southern Africa in Pretoria, South Africa. The event brought together government focal points on statelessness from ten States who discussed pledges and achievements to be presented at the High-Level Segment on Statelessness.

To move towards a coordinated national approach in addressing statelessness, a number of States developed National Action Plans to End Statelessness. On 10 September, the Council of Ministers of Niger adopted the National Action Plan to Eradicate Statelessness. From 21 to 25 October, the Government of Eswatini adopted a National Action Plan and started its implementation with a round of training sessions with members of Parliament and traditional leaders. On 19 September, a National Action plan was adopted by the Central African Republic after a National Committee for the elimination of statelessness was established in August. In September, multi-stakeholder meetings took place in Madagascar and Zambia to develop National Action Plans. Both draft action plans are pending endorsement by the respective Cabinets.


On 10 and 11 September, UNHCR and the Government of Mali convened the Regional Dialogue on Protection and Solutions in relation to Forced Displacement in the Sahel, in Bamako, Mali. Co-chaired by the Malian Minister of Solidarity and UNHCR Director for West and Central Africa, the meeting was attended by officials and NGO representatives from Burkina-Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger. The UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, attended as a special guest. Participants agreed to strengthen access to civil registration services in war-affected areas in the Sahel region, including by building the capacity of relevant actors and using information technologies to enhance access.

On 10 September, UNHCR and the UNESCO Chair in Human Rights and Democracy at the Abome-Calavi University in Benin signed a Memorandum of Understanding paving the way for collaboration on statelessness. The University and UNHCR will work towards introducing a course on statelessness into the formal curriculum.

In July, UNHCR and the Chadian National School of Administration organized its first conference on statelessness in N’Djamena. The conference brought together over 150 participants, including academics, government officials and representatives of UN agencies, to discuss challenges related to statelessness in Chad and avenues to address them.

On 9 September, UNHCR held roundtable discussions with the faculties of law from the Great Zimbabwe University, Midlands State University, University of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University in an effort to strengthen partnership with academia. The meeting resulted in an agreement to expand areas of collaboration with respect to research on statelessness, and to organize an annual National Moot Court Competition as well as a Conference on statelessness, which will first be held in November this year.


Implementation of the Global Action Plan

Also in line with Action 2, UNHCR and the Ministry of Justice of Côte d’Ivoire continued to support activities to provide nationality certificates to stateless foundlings. Since the beginning of the year, judicial decisions in eight jurisdictions across the country have led to over 100 foundlings obtaining Ivorian nationality. This shift in legal thinking can be attributed to a series of trainings of magistrates that were conducted in May and in July this year to sensitize judges on the application of the UN statelessness conventions including with respect to the provision on foundlings.


In line with both Action 6 and Action 7, Ensure birth registration for the prevention of statelessness, on 3 July, UNHCR and the Ministry of Justice of Mali signed a renewed partnership agreement that will provide for the naturalization of 1,200 refugees of Mauritanian origin who have opted for naturalization and the issuance of birth certificates for 300 indigenous people in the Kayes region.


With respect to Action 7, UNHCR provided support to several governments in issuing birth certificates to populations at risk of statelessness. In Burkina Faso, 27,960 birth certificates were issued in the central-eastern and central-southern regions to persons at risk of statelessness. The Government of Chad issued 24,000 birth certificates to children of refugees and refugee-hosting communities at risk of statelessness. In Niger, UNHCR, in collaboration with ICAHD-INTERNATIONAL and the NGO Secours des Oubliés (SDO), organized mobile courts for adults and children in migratory situations who have no or damaged birth certificates. A total of 2,337 birth certificates were issued to people in Tillaberi, Niamey, Dosso, Maradi, Tahoua, Zinder and Diffa regions. Finally, in Sudan, birth registration campaigns were held in five States among refugees, IDPs and host communities, focusing on both new-born and late birth registration. During the campaigns a total of 1,350 birth certificates were issued.


In line with Action 8, Issue nationality documentation to those with entitlement to it, from June to August, UNHCR provided support to the Government of Burkina Faso in issuing 5,000 national identity cards to IDPs from Barsalgho and Foubé in the central-northern region. The issuance of identity documents reduces the risk of statelessness for IDPs, facilitates their freedom of movement and avoids arrest and detention.

Also In line with Action 8, the Department of the Registrar General of Zimbabwe, with operational support from UNHCR, launched a mobile registration exercise for the issuance and replacement of nationality and civil status documentation to the populations affected by the Tropical Cyclone Idai in the Chimanimani and Chipinge Districts in Manicaland Province. From 9 to 22 September, a total of 8,725 nationality and civil status documents had been issued.

Finally, on Action 10, Improve quantitative and qualitative data on stateless populations, in Niger, UNHCR, ICAHD-INTERNATIONAL and Secours des Oubliés (SDO) identified 2,014 persons at risk of statelessness in Niger through a census that was conducted between June and August. The mobile court hearings identified 533 refugee children, 717 internally displaced children and 280 returnees without documents or with damaged documents.

Download campaign update: https://www.refworld.org/docid/5dd3b0647.html

Themes: International standards, Birth Registration, ID Documents and Passports, Nationality and Refugees, Statelessness
Regions: Madagascar, International, Mauritania, Morocco, Pan Africa, South Africa, Eswatini, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger
Year: 2019