UNHCR Action to Address Statelessness: A Strategy Note

UNHCR (March 2010). Action to Address Statelessness: A strategy note. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4b9e0c3d2.html


I. Introduction

1. Since its creation, the United Nations has endeavoured to address and resolve a wide range of issues of an international character, including statelessness. Today, an estimated 12 million(1) people are stateless worldwide: they are not considered as nationals by any State under the operation of its law. Statelessness often limits access to birth registration, identity documentation, education, health care, legal employment, property ownership, political participation and freedom of movement. Denial of these rights impacts not only the individuals concerned but also society as a whole, in particular because excluding an entire sector of the population may create social tension and significantly impair efforts to promote economic and social development. Moreover, statelessness may lead to forced displacement, in particular where it results from arbitrary deprivation of nationality. For all of these reasons, UNHCR needs to redouble its efforts to address statelessness together with States and working in coordination with other UN agencies, regional organizations, NGOs and civil society at large.

2. This Strategy Note provides a framework of action to address statelessness issues. Effective responses to statelessness require a partnership approach. The Note is therefore being published in the belief that it may also prove helpful for governmental, UN and civil society partners, as well as regional organizations. This Note highlights the major issues to be addressed at the field level but is not exhaustive and will be complemented by further guidance on specific doctrinal and policy questions. One area in which additional guidance is required is de facto statelessness. Questions relating to how de facto statelessness is defined and addressed will therefore be dealt with in subsequent guidance. The present Strategy Note is focused principally on de jure statelessness, i.e. statelessness as defined in the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and customary international law.(2)


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