Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness

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Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness
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  states parties
  states that have signed, but not ratified
  states that have not signed
Signed30 August 1961
Location New York City
Effective13 December 1975
Condition6 ratifications
Signatories3
Parties75
DepositarySecretary-General of the United Nations
LanguagesChinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish

The Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness is a 1961 United Nations multilateral treaty whereby sovereign states agree to reduce the incidence of statelessness. The Convention was originally intended as a Protocol to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, while the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons was adopted to cover stateless persons who are not refugees and therefore not within the scope of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. [1]

Contents

Statelessness prior to World War II

While one case of statelessness was identified in the Protocol relating to a Certain Case of Statelessness at the League of Nations Codification Conference, 1930 in The Hague: "In a State whose nationality is not conferred by the mere fact of birth in its territory, a person born in its territory of a mother possessing the nationality of that State and of a father without nationality or of unknown nationality shall have the nationality of the said State." Over time, many signatories have adjusted their laws to ensure this rule remains true. (For example, in Australian nationality law, a child born in the country acquires citizenship if any parent is a citizen). However, despite this, many cases remained ambiguous or uncovered primarily due to the fact that a person did not always receive the nationality of its parents, or was born in a certain place and not always provided citizenship of that state. [2]

The Nansen International Office For Refugees, an organization of the League of Nations, was internationally in charge of refugees from war areas from 1930 to 1939. It received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1938. Their Nansen passports, designed in 1922 by founder Fridtjof Nansen, were internationally recognized identity cards first issued by the League of Nations to stateless refugees. In 1942 they were honored by governments in 52 countries and were the first refugee travel documents.

Background to UN action addressing the problem of statelessness

The Room of the United Nations General Assembly where Resolution was passed in 1949 which inspired the adoption of the Convention Regarding the Status of Stateless Persons in 1954 and the completion of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness UN General Assembly.jpg
The Room of the United Nations General Assembly where Resolution was passed in 1949 which inspired the adoption of the Convention Regarding the Status of Stateless Persons in 1954 and the completion of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness

Migrations forced from political instability during World War II and its immediate aftermath highlighted the international dimensions of problems presented by unprecedented volumes of displaced persons including those rendered effectively stateless.

Dating from December 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at Article 15 affirms that:

At the Fourth United Nations General Assembly Session in October–December 1949, the International Law Commission included the topic "Nationality, including statelessness" in its list of topics of international law provisionally selected for codification. At the behest of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in its 11th Session soon after, that item was given priority.

The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was done on 28 July 1951. It was originally desired to cover 'refugees and stateless persons'; however, agreement was not reached with respect to the latter.

The International Law Commission at its fifth session in 1953 produced both a Draft Convention on the Elimination of Future Statelessness, and a Draft Convention on the Reduction of Future Statelessness. ECOSOC approved both drafts.

The 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons was done in September 1954 (The Status Convention). [3] This completed the unfinished work of the Refugee Convention three years prior.

On 4 December 1954 the UN General Assembly by Resolution [4] adopted both drafts as the basis of its desire for a conference of plenipotentiaries and an eventual Convention.

How the convention works to reduce statelessness

In respect of contracting states:

Substantive provisions of the convention

United Nations Headquarters, New York. Site of the completion of the Statelessness Reduction Convention in 1961 United Nations HQ - New York City.jpg
United Nations Headquarters, New York. Site of the completion of the Statelessness Reduction Convention in 1961

There are 21 Articles, summarised below:

Article 1(1)
Contracting States shall grant their nationality to persons, otherwise stateless, born in their territory (subject to Article 1(2)).
The grant may be by virtue of the birth, or upon application by or on behalf of the person so born.
Article 1(2)
An applicant may have up until at least the age of 21 to claim their citizenship by birth from article 1(1).
For grant of citizenship by birth, a Contracting State may require proof of habitual residence in their territory for a period not exceeding 5 years immediately prior to application, or 10 years in total.
Grant of citizenship by birth may be contingent upon the applicant's not having been convicted of an offence against national security nor having been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of five years or more. Grant of citizenship by birth may be contingent upon the applicant having always been stateless.
Article 1(3)
A child born in wedlock in a Contracting State, whose mother is a national of that State, and who would otherwise be stateless, shall take the nationality of that State.
Article 1(4)
A Contracting State shall give its nationality to a person, otherwise stateless, who is legally precluded from assuming his/her birth nationality, where that State's nationality was held by either parent at the time of the birth.
Article 1(5)
An applicant has until at least the age of 23 to claim a nationality by Article 1(4).
For conferral of nationality by Article 1(4) a contracting State may impose a residence requirement not exceeding three years immediately prior to application.
For conferral of nationality by Article 1(4) it may be required that the applicant has always been stateless.
Article 2
For the purpose of assigning nationality, a foundling shall be considered to have been born in the State where it was found and from parents of that State's nationality. That presumption may be displaced by proof to the contrary.
Article 3
For the purpose of determining the obligations of contracting states under this convention, birth on a ship or aircraft shall amount to birth in the territory of the State that gives its flag to that ship or aircraft.
Article 4
A Contracting State shall grant its nationality to a person, not born in its territory, if either parent had that State's nationality and the person would be otherwise stateless.
A person may make such a claim for nationality at least up until the age of 23. They may also be required to have a period of residence up to three years immediately prior to application. The claim may be refused where a person has been convicted of an offence against the national security of the State.
Article 5
If a law entails loss of nationality, such loss shall be conditional upon the person acquiring another nationality. This only applies to loss by marriage, legitimation, divorce, recognition or adoption. A child that loses nationality by recognition or affiliation shall be given opportunity to reacquire by written application under terms not more rigorous than provided by Article 1(2).
Article 6
If a law entails loss of nationality by a spouse or child by virtue of the loss of nationality by the other spouse or a parent, such loss shall be conditional on the person's possession or acquisition of another nationality.
Article 7
Laws for the renunciation of a nationality shall be conditional upon a person's acquisition or possession of another nationality. (Exceptions: not to frustrate freedom of movement of nationals within a country, not to frustrate return of nationals to their country, not to frustrate a person's ability to seek asylum)
Article 8
Contracting States shall not deprive people of their nationality so as to render them stateless. (Exceptions: where otherwise provided in the Convention; where nationality has been acquired by misrepresentation or fraud; disloyalty to the Contracting State).
Article 9
Nationality will not be deprived on racial, ethnic, political or religious grounds.
Article 10
Treaties providing for transfer of territory between States shall make provisions to preclude the occurrence of statelessness. Absent such provisions, a Contracting State taking territory will give its nationality to persons, otherwise stateless, in that territory.
Article 11
Persons may apply to the UNHCR to claim the benefit of the Convention.
Article 12
The Convention applies to persons born either before or after it goes into force. (Exception: only applies to foundlings found after going into force)
Article 13
The Convention is not to be construed to detract from any law or treaty provision otherwise aiding the reduction of statelessness.
Article 14
Disputes by Contacting States concerning the Convention are susceptible to final adjudication by the International Court of Justice.
Article 15
The Convention applies to all trust, non-self-governing, colonial, and non-metropolitan territories of Contracting States.
Articles 16–21
Process of signature and ratification.

Contracting states

As of May 2021, 76 states have ratified or acceded to the convention. [5] In comparison, 145 countries have ratified the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. [6]


See also

Related Research Articles

The European Convention on Nationality was signed in Strasbourg on 6 November 1997. It is a comprehensive convention of the Council of Europe dealing with the law of nationality. The convention is open for signature by the member States of the Council of Europe and the non-member States which have participated in its elaboration and for accession by other non-member States. The Convention came into force on 1 March 2000 after ratification by 3 countries. As of 2021, the convention has been signed by 29 countries and ratified by 21 of those countries.

Nationality is a legal identification of a person in international law, establishing the person as a subject, a national, of a sovereign state. It affords the state jurisdiction over the person and affords the person the protection of the state against other states.

Naturalization Process by which a non-citizen in a country may acquire citizenship or nationality of that country

Naturalization is the legal act or process by which a non-citizen of a country may acquire citizenship or nationality of that country. It may be done automatically by a statute, i.e., without any effort on the part of the individual, or it may involve an application or a motion and approval by legal authorities. The rules of naturalization vary from country to country but typically include a promise to obey and uphold that country's laws, taking and subscribing to an oath of allegiance, and may specify other requirements such as a minimum legal residency and adequate knowledge of the national dominant language or culture. To counter multiple citizenship, most countries require that applicants for naturalization renounce any other citizenship that they currently hold, but whether this renunciation actually causes loss of original citizenship, as seen by the host country and by the original country, will depend on the laws of the countries involved.

Refugee Type of displaced person

A refugee, generally speaking, is a displaced person who has crossed national boundaries and who cannot or is unwilling to return home due to well-founded fear of persecution. Such a person may be called an asylum seeker until granted refugee status by the contracting state or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) if they formally make a claim for asylum. The lead international agency coordinating refugee protection is the United Nations Office of the UNHCR. The United Nations has a second office for refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which is solely responsible for supporting the large majority of Palestinian refugees.

<i>Jus soli</i> Birthright of anyone born in the territory of a state to nationality or citizenship

Jus soli, commonly referred to as birthright citizenship, is the right of anyone born in the territory of a state to nationality or citizenship.

In international law, a stateless person is someone who is "not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law". Some stateless people are also refugees. However, not all refugees are stateless, and many people who are stateless have never crossed an international border. On November 12, 2018, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees stated there are about 12 million stateless people in the world.

Refugee law is the branch of international law which deals with the rights and duties states have vis-a-vis refugees. There are differences of opinion among international law scholars as to the relationship between refugee law and international human rights law or humanitarian law.

Certificate of identity Travel document issued by a country to non-citizens

A certificate of identity, sometimes called an alien's passport, is a travel document issued by a country to non-citizens residing within their borders who are stateless persons or otherwise unable to obtain a passport from their state of nationality. Some states also issue certificates of identity to their own citizens as a form of emergency passport or otherwise in lieu of a passport. The visa requirements of certificates of identity may be different from those of regular passports.

Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees United Nations multilateral treaty

The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, also known as the 1951 Refugee Convention or the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951, is a United Nations multilateral treaty that defines who a refugee is, and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum. The Convention also sets out which people do not qualify as refugees, such as war criminals. The Convention also provides for some visa-free travel for holders of refugee travel documents issued under the convention.

Nationality law is the law of a sovereign state, and of each of its jurisdictions, that defines the legal manner in which a national identity is acquired and how it may be lost. In international law, the legal means to acquire nationality and formal membership in a nation are separated from the relationship between a national and the nation, known as citizenship. Some nations domestically use the terms interchangeably, though by the 20th century, nationality had commonly come to mean the status of belonging to a particular nation with no regard to the type of governance which established a relationship between the nation and its people. In law, nationality describes the relationship of a national to the state under international law and citizenship describes the relationship of a citizen within the state under domestic statutes. Different regulatory agencies monitor legal compliance for nationality and citizenship. A person in a country of which he or she is not a national is generally regarded by that country as a foreigner or alien. A person who has no recognised nationality to any jurisdiction is regarded as stateless.

Japanese nationality law

Japanese nationality is a legal designation and set of rights granted to those people who have met the criteria for citizenship by parentage or by naturalisation. Nationality is in the jurisdiction of the Minister of Justice and is generally governed by the Nationality Law of 1950.

Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons

The Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons is a 1954 United Nations multilateral treaty that aims to protect stateless individuals.

The Russian Federation's Law on Refugees defines who is a refugee for purposes of obtaining asylum in the country. The Law defines a refugee as a "person who is outside his/her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution. Upon receiving an asylum seeker's application, the Russian Migration Service determines whether the asylum seeker meets the legislative definition of a "refugee" and should be granted asylum.

Ukrainian nationality law Body of law

Ukrainian nationality law is the law that governs the acquisition and loss of citizenship of Ukraine. This body of law includes the constitution, several treaties, and the Law on Citizenship of Ukraine. Key secondary legislation comprises the procedure, established by the president, for the authorities to decide on and record each case of acquisition or loss of citizenship. There also exists a body of administrative case law.

Romanian nationality law

The Romanian nationality law addresses specific rights, duties, privileges, and benefits between Romania and the individual. Romanian nationality law is based on jus sanguinis. Current citizenship policy in Romania is in accordance with the Romanian Citizenship Law, which was adopted by the Romanian Parliament on March 6, 1991, and the Constitution of Romania, which was adopted on November 21, 1991.

British nationality law Law on citizenship and other categories

British nationality law dictates the conditions under which a person is recognised as being a national of the United Kingdom. The six different classes of British nationality each have varying degrees of civil and political rights, due to the UK's historical status as a colonial empire. The primary class of British nationality is British citizenship, which is associated with the United Kingdom itself and the Crown dependencies. Foreign nationals may naturalize as British citizens after meeting a minimum residence requirement and acquiring settled status.

Albanian nationality law

Albanian nationality law is based on a mixture of the principles of Jus sanguinis and Jus soli. In other words, both place of birth and Albanian parentage are relevant for determining whether a person is an Albanian citizen. It is regulated by the "Law on Albanian Citizenship". In some circumstances citizenship is granted to children born in Albania to non-Albanian parents. This is not the case where parents are temporary or short-term visitors. As suggested by the UN and Council of Europe, all efforts are made in order to avoid statelessness.

The nationality law of Bosnia and Herzegovina governs the acquisition, transmission and loss of citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Regulated under the framework of the Law on Citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is based primarily on the principle of jus sanguinis.

Paul Weis was an Austrian lawyer and survivor of the persecution by the Nazis. He is dubbed to be the "founding father of the protection".

A stateless person is, according to article 1 of the New York Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons of 28 September 1954, "any person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law".

References

  1. van Waas, Laura Ellen. Laura Nationality Matters: Statelessness under International Law, p.21
  2. "Refworld | Protocol Relating to a Certain Case of Statelessness".
  3. http://www.unhcr.org/protect/PROTECTION/3bbb25729.pdf%5B%5D
  4. Ods Home Page [ permanent dead link ]
  5. Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "States Parties to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness". UNHCR. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  6. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees contracting parties