Statelessness remains a significant issue both globally and in Europe. The causes of statelessness are manifold, including complexities of conflicts in nationality laws, state succession, forced displacement, historical and contemporary migration, structural birth registration problems, access to nationality and related administrative practices.

The right to a nationality is reflected in numerous widely ratified international treaties and is considered a gateway to the enjoyment of a range of other rights. It also constitutes part of a person's social identity as highlighted by the European Court of Human Rights. Yet, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) latest estimates in 2022, there are some 442 000 stateless persons, including those with undetermined nationality living in Europe. The lack of nationality has a serious impact on their lives, their enjoyment of the full range of human rights, including access to education, employment, healthcare, housing, and freedom of movement.

The Council of Europe considers as a priority the need to ensure the effective enjoyment of human rights by the most vulnerable, including those faced with nationality and statelessness issues.

In the light of the conclusions of the international conference on “Statelessness and the right to a nationality in Europe: progress, challenges and opportunities” organised jointly with the UNHCR in 2021 and the Analysis of current practices and challenges regarding the avoidance and reduction of statelessness in Europe, the Council of Europe, through its European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ), will focus in 2024-2026 on issues relating to the statelessness of children and their access to nationality, and will develop guidance on child sensitive procedures in administrative and migration law matters for children who are stateless or at risk of being stateless as well as guidance on the establishment of nationality for children.

These activities will contribute to the Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting Vulnerable Persons in the Context of Migration and Asylum in Europe (2021-2025) and the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027).


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