Calling on all European states
This petition is organised by the European Network on Statelessness (ENS)
There is an urgent need for European States to act to prevent children from growing up without a nationality. The majority of Europe’s stateless kids were born in Europe; many of them would not remain stateless today if all European countries had in place legal safeguards against childhood statelessness as required by international law. The shocking reality is that more than half the countries in Europe are failing to meet these obligations, thereby denying a nationality to thousands of children across the continent.
The European Network on Statelessness urges all European states to:
- Accede to the UN 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness;
- Address gaps in their laws and practice in order to implement comprehensive safeguards to identify and grant nationality to children born on their territory who would otherwise be stateless, as soon as possible after birth;
- Ensure access to free and universal birth registration in order to prevent statelessness.
Why is this important?
Most people take their nationality for granted; they do not think about how or why they got it, what it allows them to do or what would be different if they had none.
Sadly, this is not the case for thousands of children in Europe who are growing up without nationality. For those affected this can mean missing out on healthcare, education and other opportunities, as well as result in unfulfilled potential and a sense of never quite belonging. It brings hardship and anguish to children and their parents alike.
There are a number of a ways in which a child could end up without a nationality. Sometimes statelessness is passed on from stateless parents to their children. Other times, a child fails to acquire a nationality at birth because of a conflict between different nationality laws, or may not be able to prove their legal identity because they were not issued with a birth certificate. Statelessness can also be a problem for some children born to refugees. It can also result from international surrogacy, adoption or where children have been abandoned at birth.
No child should be left without nationality. It is a problem that is entirely solvable. UN conventions provide a clear legal framework to define and tackle the issue. By establishing safeguards in nationality laws to ensure that any child born on the territory of a country will be entitled to nationality if they would otherwise be left stateless, we could end childhood statelessness within a generation!
Thank you for signing the Help us end childhood statelessness in Europe petition!
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