An estimated 10 million people worldwide have no nationality. On the average, a stateless child is born every ten minutes. In advance of the one year anniversary of UNHCHR’s #IBelong campaign and to further raise the profile and foster cooperation on the issue of statelessness, UNHCR is forming a group of “Friends of the Campaign to End Statelessness.” The U.S. Mission is pleased to have hosted the first meeting of this group on October 30.
“The United States has long been an ardent supporter of UNHCR’s mandate to prevent and reduce statelessness worldwide, and we look forward to actively supporting this campaign,” said Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto. “Without documentation and legal status, stateless persons, especially women and children, face a heightened risk of human rights abuses or violations.” Ambassador Keith Harper noted that the Human Rights Council has also focused on the issue, and that the U.S. led the way on the first HRC resolution to address the issue of discriminatory nationality laws targeting women.
“Nobody is perfect on this issue,” said UNHCR’s Melanie Khanna. “It is about everyone putting their oars in the water and rowing together.” The collective will of the diverse and committed support group in Geneva has the power to effect real change, said Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk.
More than twenty governments were present and those who spoke said they considered a “Friends” group on this thematic topic to be a useful vehicle for enhanced diplomatic efforts. Australia and Finland both expressed interest in hosting future meetings of the group.