Building a Europe for and with children

Children and nationality

10.06.14 The Council of Europe has strived for many years to set minimum standards in the field of nationality and has produced a number of legal instruments in the field.[1]

Nowadays, children are considered as subjects possessing their own rights and obligations, rather than mere objects of international law. In this perspective, the main aims of the Recommendation on the nationality of children, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 2009, are to reduce statelessness of children, to facilitate their access to a nationality and to ensure their right to a nationality.

The Recommendation states a set of principles and objectives on reducing statelessness, nationality as a consequence of a child-parent family relationship, children born on the territory of a state to a foreign parent, the position of children treated as nationals, the rights of children in proceedings affecting their nationality and registration of birth.

The Recommendation intends to apply to a number of situations such as cases of children of unmarried couples, of foreign children adopted by nationals, of children conceived through medically assisted reproductive techniques and of children of parents of foreign origin born or growing up in their state of residence.

The Recommendation recalls the usefulness of co-operation and, where appropriate, the obligation to exchange information on the nationality of children among member states in order to ensure that a child has access to a nationality; and encourage member states to be guided in their legislation, policies and practice by its rules and principles.

The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Nils Muižnieks, considers that this Recommendation provides very useful guidance for member states on improving protection of children against statelessness and on taking proactive measures to ensure respect for the overarching principle of the best interest of children.

[1] Mainly the 1997 European Convention on Nationality (CETS No. 166), the 2006 Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession (CETS No. 200) and the Recommendation 99 (18) on the avoidance and the reduction of statelessness.



Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)13 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the nationality of children

Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner's speech: "Stateless but not rightless: improving the protection of stateless persons in Europe"

The Council of Europe's Commissioner Human Rights Comment: "Governments should act in the best interest of stateless children"

Interview with the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner

European Network on Statelessness - "Campaign to protect stateless people in Europe"