IACHR and UNHCR Present Resolution on Protecting the Right to Nationality and Preventing Statelessness

December 13, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published Resolution 2/23, about the right to nationality and about the ban on statelessness and on the arbitrary deprivation of nationality. This joint resolution drafted with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) seeks to provide guidance for States, civil society organizations, international organizations, and other relevant stakeholders to comply with the applicable international obligations.

In its seven sections, this resolution holds general, cross-sectionally applicable principles and develops the scope for protection of the right to nationality, the ways to acquire and lose nationality, and the obligations that stem from the ban on the arbitrary deprivation of nationality. The resolution further describes the obligations to prevent, reduce, and eradicate statelessness and holds dispositions to protect individuals with a status that is similar to that of stateless persons.

This document also spells out guarantees of due process in proceedings linked to protecting the right to nationality and to preventing, reducing, and eradicating statelessness. Finally, the resolution encourages States to adhere to the applicable international treaties. This resolution complements IACHR Resolution 4/19, which holds the Inter-American Principles on the Human Rights of All Migrants, Refugees, Stateless Persons, and Victims of Human Trafficking.

Resolution 2/23 is the result of the IACHR's work of recent years, where the Commission has noted with concern the challenges regarding the protection of the right to nationality. The IACHR is particularly concerned about the adoption of court decisions that have affected the right to nationality retrospectively and about the implementation of arbitrary proceedings for deprivation of nationality that do not enforce due process.

The Commission has also identified cases where certain individuals have been refused the right to return to countries of which they are nationals. The IACHR has warned about the challenges involved in migration and forced displacement contexts. Difficulties to access a regular migration status and identity documents that are in force and state nationality increase the risk of statelessness throughout the Americas, especially for children who are born in human mobility contexts. Legislation that discriminates between men and women in terms of the assignment of nationality is a further cause of statelessness.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

The UNHCR is the UN agency in charge of protecting refugees and people displaced by persecution or conflict, and of seeking lasting solutions to their plight. With headquarters in Geneva, the UNHCR has more than 18,800 workers active in more than 130 countries, with approximately 91% of them working in the field. In recognition of its work, the UNHCR was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1954 and 1981, as well as the Prince of Asturias Award in 1991.

No. 290/23

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