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April 2017

Presentation Of The Guide For The Protection Of Stateless Persons

Presentation Of The Guide For The Protection Of Stateless Persons

This past April 6, the Department of International Law (DIL) (Secretariat for Legal Affairs) of the OAS, in its capacity as Technical Secretariat for the Inter-American Juridical Committee (IAJC), presented to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP) of the Permanent Council of the OAS, the “Guide for the Protection of Stateless Persons” (Guide), adopted by the IAJC in August 2015, at the request of the OAS General Assembly, which had entrusted it, in 2014, with the development of a Guide on this matter in accordance with international standards thereon.

In 2016, the General Assembly—which since 2010 has been adopting resolutions having to do with statelessness, underscoring the importance of the matter and establishing international standards thereon—asked the CAJP to give due consideration to this Guide.

In the Guide, the IAJC urges the member states to: Ratify the 1954 Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; support the UNHCR’s Model Law for the Protection of Stateless Persons (2012), which has been replaced by a February 2017 version entitled “Draft Articles on Protecting and Facilitating the Naturalization of Stateless Persons” (Draft Articles); and develop an effective procedure for the protection of stateless persons.

In his presentation, the Director of the DIL also discussed his recent participation in the “Statelessness Regional Course: Americas focus,” organized by the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, the Open Society Justice Initiative, the Americas Network on Nationality and Statelessness, UNHCR, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia.

Although there are fewer stateless persons in our Hemisphere than in other regions, constant flows of migrants and the sheer number of people who are currently refugees could eventually lead to situations of statelessness. Every 10 minutes across the globe, a child is born stateless. The data, however, remain scarce and according to estimates, the number of individuals in this situation is far higher. The DIL underscored that it is for this reason that it is important to engage in joint efforts to prevent situations from arising in which people lack a nationality; and should a person lack a nationality, to ensure that effective mechanisms are in place to recognize his or her status as stateless and guarantee that the rights inherent to that status are protected; and that once the status of statelessness has been recognized, to ensure that the best efforts possible are made to help such individuals secure the respective naturalization.

He also noted that the “Draft Articles” adopted by UNHCR and recommended in the IAJC “Guide” are an important reference document that could be taken into account by the member states when implementing domestic legislation in this area. The Draft Articles are a tool available to the States to help them implement the 2014 Brazil Declaration “A Framework for Cooperation and Regional Solidarity to Strengthen the International Protection of Refugees, Displaced and Stateless Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean,” and the Brazil Plan of Action “A Common Roadmap to Strengthen Protection and Promote Sustainable Solutions for Refugees, Displaced and Stateless Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean within a Framework of Cooperation and Solidarity,” adopted in December 2014, inasmuch as they recommend that States adopt domestic regulatory protection frameworks, develop just and efficient procedures for determining statelessness, and facilitate the naturalization of stateless migrants.

The IAJC is making the “Guide for the Protection of Stateless Persons” available to the countries of the region as a source of recommendations and guidance, in order to enhance the progress achieved in the region on this matter and surmount the obstacles and weaknesses that still persist.

» See text of the resolution “Guide for the Protection of Stateless Persons,” IAJC/RES.218 (LXXXVII-O/15), August 7, 2015. 

» See text of the report IAJC/doc.488/15 rev.1 “Report of the Inter-American Juridical Committee: Guide for the Protection of Stateless Persons.” 

For further information on this matter, please contact the Department of International Law of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs of the OAS +1 202 370-0741. 

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