International Conference: “Statelessness and the right to a nationality in Europe: progress, challenges and opportunities”

24 вересня 2021

Today, September 24, is the second day of an international conference on "Statelessness and the right to citizenship in Europe: progress, challenges and opportunities", organized by the UNHCR and the Council of Europe. The conference in Strasbourg is attended by more than 120 people, including representatives of government agencies, international and non-governmental organizations, academia representatives, and stateless persons.

During the conference, the participants discussed issues related to the establishment, implementation and access to the stateless determination procedure (SDP), access to citizenship, and obstacles that arise during the confirmation/acquisition of citizenship. Attention was also paid to the issue of statelessness among children and possibilities to prevent new cases of statelessness. Everyone had the opportunity to speak, share their experiences, the challenges they had to face, as well as to tell their recommendations for overcoming obstacles when working with stateless persons.

Sofiia Kordonets, Manager of the Project “Legal assistance to stateless persons” represents Ukraine at this conference. Today our colleague will tell about the experiences of the R2P team, about cooperation with the State Migration Service of Ukraine and other government agencies in the context of assistance to undocumented persons, as well as about the first achievements and challenges in implementing SDP in Ukraine.

Other speakers have repeatedly mentioned Ukraine due to the recent introduction of a statelessness determination procedure. Experts have noted that Ukrainian legislation in this area is one of the best in Europe.

Ukraine is a signatory to the two UN Conventions -  the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, as well as committed to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda, which also includes the goals connected to elimination of statelessness. In Ukraine, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is implementing the Global #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness.

Statelessness is a problem that is relevant in every corner of the globe, although the right to citizenship is enshrined in several international conventions and treaties. Citizenship is the first condition for access to social and economic human rights.

There are different causes of statelessness, including, for example, 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.

"This conference is a unique opportunity to meet the best experts and colleagues in the field of overcoming statelessness in Europe, as well as to have the opportunity to share experiences on ways to solve problematic cases and to discuss the further steps in ending statelessness in all countries. This discussion is incredibly inspiring, gives a lot of ideas and useful information for further work. One of the participants of the conference, who is a stateless person, said very important words: "If you are stateless, you have to run, run, run, while others walk to achieve even the slightest thing". I believe that we all have to run together, and only then we will achieve our common goal."

The participants summarized the results of the conference and identified further steps and priorities in overcoming statelessness in Europe and agreed upon:

  • continuing to disseminate the information on stateless persons, their status, and opportunities to resolve the situation;
  • further work with public authorities to enable access to the stateless determination procedure;
  • further work with legislation to remove barriers to access to citizenship 
  • advocating for newly recognized stateless people to have access to basic social and economic rights.

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