International Conference on Statelessness in Europe

​On 25 and 26 April, the International Conference on Statelessness in Europe was held in Madrid, organised jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Held at the Casa Árabe, the meeting was opened by the Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno, and the UNHCR Special Advisor on Statelessness, Carol Batchelor. It brought together EU member states and institutions, EU candidate and neighbouring countries, as well as representatives from regional organisations such as the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the UNHCR, the European Migration Network, civil society, academia and independent experts.

During the debates and discussions, participants exchanged experiences and good practices, with the aim of contributing to the medium-term review of the UNHCR’s strategy to end statelessness by 2024 and prepare the high level meeting called by the High Commissioner this October in Geneva. At this meeting, they expect new pledges to be announced, doubling efforts to end this problem that means there are people who are not citizens of any country.

This global work is within the framework of the campaign led by UNHCR named ‘I Belong’ to eradicate statelessness through 10 actions, including for example ensuring that no child born is stateless and eliminating gender discrimination from nationality laws.

During his talk, Deputy Secretary Ángeles Moreno stressed that nationality is not a privilege but a right and that statelessness continues to represent a global challenge. Over 10 million people throughout the world—of this number, over 600,000 in Europe—suffer this scourge that especially affects women and children, which is why the international community must mobilise. The deputy secretary also shared the Spanish model for fighting statelessness with participants, based on legislative measures, a specific procedure for recognising the stateless statute and adhesion to international accords, placing our country at the vanguard of global efforts. Lastly, Ángeles Moreno repeated Spain’s commitment to the Global Compact on Refugees—adopted last December by the United Nations General Assembly—which planned measures to eradicate statelessness.

Especially for the conference, Casa Árabe hosted the photography show ‘STATELESS: The Labyrinth of the Invisible’, organised by UNHCR and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), which let visitors experience the feeling of invisibility and angst that the stateless face.





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