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The World Conference on Statelessness

Over time FCI has dedicated a great number of articles on different aspects relating to statelessness, including statelessness protection mechanisms and populations at risk of statelessness. Many of these themes – including deprivation practices, the link between statelessness and the Social Development Goals, the Rohingya, and gender discriminatory practices – were also addressed at the World Conference on Statelessness which was held this summer in The Hague. According to one of the organizers, the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, 120 speakers from 60 countries participated in dozens of panel presentations and workshops. Many of the sessions have been recorded and can be watched on the Institute’s website. Although the most cautious estimate is that there are 12 million stateless persons globally, the UNHCR representation at the Conference estimated that the figure could in fact be as high as 45 million.

The Conference coincided with the publication of academic open access articles on statelessness by the Tilburg Law Review and the Statelessness and Citizenship Review Journal. The latter is a publication by the recently founded Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness at Melbourne Law School, which undertakes research, teaching and engagement activities aimed eradicating statelessness.

As a follow up to our earlier post on Latin America, it is interesting to note that an expert group that gathered at the Conference issued a statement on the prevention and eradication of statelessness in the Americas. This statement was partly triggered by the crisis in Venezuela, as children whose births are not registered or are born abroad as refugees may be at risk of statelessness.

It is by now clear that statelessness can no longer to be considered an isolated problem in a restricted number of countries. Rather, it affects all countries and has major internal and geopolitical repercussions, as we shall explain next week in a post on the situation in Assam, India. The issue has become so urgent, partly because of the growing practice of citizenship stripping, that human rights organisations have been calling for a UN special envoy on statelessness.

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