International support is growing for the global treaties offering protection to the estimated 12 million people worldwide who are stateless, but there is still no critical mass to make a major difference, the United Nations refugee agency has warned.
Three countries – Croatia, Nigeria and the Philippines – have become a party to one or both of the two major treaties on statelessness during the annual UN treaty event being held on the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York.
Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), yesterday welcomed the support of those countries for the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the 1954 Convention relating to the status of Stateless Persons.
With the new accessions to the treaties, the number of States Parties stand at 40 and 68 respectively, he said in Geneva, where the agency is based.
“UNHCR is calling on governments to seriously consider acceding to both treaties. We also urge those States that are considering accession to start procedures at the national level. We are hopeful that more countries will follow the examples and become party to the two statelessness conventions.”
To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1961 convention, UNHCR launched a campaign earlier this year to spotlight the plight of the world’s stateless, who are frequently denied basic rights such as access to jobs, housing, education and health care because of their lack of citizenship.