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Faster state accessions needed for statelessness conventions

© UNHCR/G.M.B.Akash

UNHCR has appealed for faster efforts to help the world’s estimated 12 million stateless people, by stepping up state accessions to two key international legal instruments - the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

The appeal was made by UNHCR’s Director of International Protection, Volker Türk, in a meeting held in Geneva on the sidelines of UNHCR’s annual meeting of the Executive Committee, UNHCR’s governing body. Türk warned that slow accessions to date meant that millions of people were being left in a legal limbo with limited human rights.

“Stateless people are the overlooked millions who, in effect, have no recognized identity. The UN statelessness conventions provide a legal framework to prevent statelessness from occurring and to protect people who are already stateless.  But stateless persons often fall through a protection gap given the low number of governments who have signed on to these treaties and adopted concrete measures to address their concerns,” said Türk. “It’s time to change that.  We need states to act, and act now in confirming their commitment to reducing statelessness and protecting their rights.” 

Of the UN’s 192 member states only 65 are currently state parties to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons while just 37 have acceded to or ratified the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Accession, or ratification, is needed for a convention to be able to gain force under national laws.