A frequently cited statistic is the UNHCR estimate that there are around 12 million stateless people worldwide. Although the right to a nationality is guaranteed under Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the existence of such a large stateless population worldwide exhibits a clear failure by governments to ensure full implementation of this right. Absence of a nationality can result in people suffering further human rights violations. Thus it is crucial to ensure the right to a nationality is implemented as a first step in achieving compliance with international human rights.
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) are charged with the mandate to “protect and promote human rights”. Like many innovations in the field of human rights, the concept first arose following the Second World War. Currently there are over 100 NHRIs operating worldwide, with the number of institutions continuing to increase.
A few weeks ago a survey was sent to NHRIs the world over. This survey forms part of a study on the extent of NHRI engagement in the issue of statelessness; and to establish the context in which this engagement occurs. Through communication with the Netherlands NHRI, the Netherlands Human Rights Institute, it has become clear that there is interest in developing a means of inter NHRI co-operation and co-ordination on the issue of statelessness. Furthermore there is interest in raising awareness of the issue of statelessness amongst NHRIs.
In light of such revelations it is intended that this study will compile and analyse survey responses in the hope of being able to assist NHRIs on the issue of statelessness. The survey distributed to NHRIs asks questions on topics such as the experience of the NHRI with the issue of statelessness, action taken by the NHRI to prevent statelessness, protecting the rights of stateless people, and co-operation and co-ordination in addressing the issue of statelessness.
It is encouraging that a survey response has been already received from the office of the Ombudsman of Croatia. We are grateful for the interest shown so far and are looking forward to hearing from other NHRIs.
Over the next two months this blog will be used to document progress made on the study, and to provide information on what has been discovered along the way.
Monica Neal, 2013 Summer Intern with the Statelessness Programme