MPs challenged to help deal with statelessness

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By Staff Reporter

Vumba: Parliaments can demonstrate their goodwill and determination in eradicating statelessness by adopting nationality legislation that is consistence with international law and encompasses the necessary safeguards in preventing statelessness at birth and later in life, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) official said.

UNHCR Acting Country Representative Shana Kaninda told MPs at a Nationality and Statelessness dialogue on Friday that statelessness is a man-made problem and only requires goodwill and political will to eradicate it.

UNHR is running a campaign to end statelessness by 2024 under the #IBELONG.

Under the project, UNHCR feels parliamentarians have a critical role to play in ending statelessness as they are custodian to human rights and accordingly hold a fundamental role to play through legislative reform and in the accession and domestication on international instrument.

According to UNHCR, statelessness is a serious human rights issue that currently affects an estimated 10 million people globally while every 10 minutes a stateless child is born and every region of the world is affected by statelessness – Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the America.

“Parliaments have contributed strongly to the unprecedented progress achieved in the response to statelessness since the launch of the #IBELONG Campaign.

“In the first half of the campaign, more countries have acceded to the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, than in the decades following adoption of these international instruments on statelessness,” said Kaninda.

He added that parliament also plays an important role in providing oversight to ensure the policy and administrative framework do not inadvertently or deliberately render individuals stateless.

“Through strong advocacy and championship, parliamentarians can encourage governments to eradicate statelessness and raise awareness on the cause and consequences amongst their constituents and supporters as well as with all relevant stakeholders,” said the country representatives.

Kaninda reiterated UNHCR`s commitment in supporting the government of Zimbabwe in achieving the pledges registered in ending statelessness by 2024 during the 70th session of the Executive Committee Meeting held in last month.

These include accession to the 1961 Convention of the Reduction of Statelessness and alignment of national legislation with the new Constitution of Zimbabwe and international standards.