Strengthening efforts to end statelessness in Europe and guarantee the provision of fundamental rights to everyone was the key theme of the events organised on 23-24 September in Strasbourg by the Council of Europe’s European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. The international conference brought together over 130 senior representatives of governments of member States, national authorities with specific expertise in nationality and statelessness issues, judges, representatives of international and regional organisations, civil society organisations and academics, as well as stateless individuals.
Statelessness remains a significant issue both globally and in Europe. It is estimated that more than half a million people in Europe are stateless or have undetermined nationality. The right to a nationality is reflected in numerous international treaties, including the Council of Europe’s European Convention on Nationality based on the principles of prevention of statelessness and non-discrimination. The right to a nationality constitutes part of a person's social identity and is considered a gateway to the enjoyment of a range of other rights, including access to education, employment, health care, housing and freedom of movement.
While there has been significant progress towards implementation of the Global Action Plan to End Statelessness, including through the implementation of pledges made at the 2019 High-Level Segment on Statelessness, challenges remain, more needs to be done in Europe to achieve the goals of the #IBelong Campaign to end statelessness by 2024. “This Conference plays an important role in inspiring collective action. Indeed, with a spirit of partnership, we can make statelessness a fact of the past”, said Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, who spoke at the event.
The Special Representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on Migration and Refugees, Drahoslav Štefánek, said: “Stateless persons are particularly vulnerable, subject to States’ obligation to provide them with special protection and assistance. The new Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting Vulnerable Persons in the Context of Migration and Asylum in Europe (2021-2025) includes the elaboration of practical guidance to address vulnerabilities throughout asylum and migration procedures, including reception conditions.”