Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that I join you today in celebrating the commitment of States to end statelessness. We are here to witness the accession of Angola and Colombia to both of the Statelessness Conventions. We will also recognize the 15 States that have acceded to one or both of these instruments in the past five years – the first half of UNHCR’s decade-long “I-Belong” Campaign.
I congratulate the people and Governments of all States participating in this Ceremony on their commitment to the human rights and dignity of all.
Statelessness makes people invisible. When people are unable to prove their identity, they may be unable to access basic services like education and healthcare.
Statelessness can deny people and communities their identity and sense of self, contributing to the breakdown of family and social relationships and creating legal problems for generations.
And stateless people are voiceless people. Prevented from voting or participating in public life, they are without representation anywhere.
Our world has many problems that are complex and intractable. Statelessness is not one of them. It is a problem we can solve.
The two Conventions on Statelessness help the international community to identify people who are stateless, provide them with a legal identity, assess the reasons for their situation, and find solutions.
The 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness outlines mechanisms to avoid statelessness at birth.
The universal use of these mechanisms would end virtually all statelessness within a single generation.
That is our collective goal and the aspiration of the “I-Belong” Campaign.
I would also like to acknowledge States that are longstanding parties to these Conventions. These States – whose names appear on the screen in this hall – took action to end statelessness early, recognizing its very serious impact and consequences. I commend their commitment to the rights and dignity of all.
I understand several States are considering accession. I encourage you to take this step as soon as possible, and assure you that the United Nations – led by UNHCR – will be your committed partner throughout accession and implementation of the Statelessness Conventions.
Finally, I congratulate High Commissioner Grandi and his dedicated staff for their successful campaign and commitment to ending statelessness by 2024.
The whole United Nations family, and I personally, are fully behind you!