Expert Meeting on Statelessness
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) Panel on Migration and Asylum expert meeting on statelessness took place in Budapest on 12-13 December 2013. The meeting was organized jointly by Hungary and Moldova, it brought together experts from the six EaP countries as well as from Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden.
According to UNHCR estimates, there are 12 million people without nationality around the world. For Europe, with approximately 640,000 stateless persons, this challenge remains high on the agenda, even over 20 years after the collapse of ex-Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. The experts addressed the problem as a common issue for the EU MS and the Eastern neighbors. Thus, international legal aspects, recent trends of statelessness and also national practices and experiences were discussed in this regard. The European Commission referred to two complementary approaches to the problem, which are prevention and reduction of statelessness, developed in line with the two UN Conventions on the matter. Regarding the latter, all participants highlighted that it is crucial to have effective statelessness determination procedures in order to be able to grant a status to stateless individuals.
UNHCR has been promoting the accession to the two Statelessness Conventions and recently issued five guidelines on the matter. Along with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, UNHCR thus welcomed the increasing number of accessions to said Conventions and the streamlined developments in national legislations in recent years. A lot still needs to be done, UNHCR plans to implement a global campaign in 2014. At the same time, some participants advocated that the EU could also play a more substantial role in this subject matter, the suggestions ranged from more advocacy vis-à-vis the Member States to ratify the relevant UN conventions to the idea of regulatory responses, in connection to statelessness determination procedures. In terms of national practices on identification, reduction and prevention of statelessness, Hungary shared its latest policy developments, procedures and statistics, to demonstrate how statelessness can be effectively managed, both regarding legislation and practice of status determination. Georgia and Moldova presented their national practices illustrating significant legislative and institutional progress achieved in terms of addressing statelessness. Moldova was named a model for the region and beyond. Pursuing the main goal to offer durable and sustainable solutions to stateless people, the experts concluded that one first important step for each state is to address legislative gaps and introduce efficient mechanisms to grant a status.