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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Ecowas conference on statelessness holds today

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It is being organised by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, for the first time in West Africa and will bring together ministers in charge nationality in Ecowas member countries. 

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A UNHCR newsletter made available to this reporter read: “High level Ivorian authorities will participate in this conference, organised jointly by UNHCR and Ecowas in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on 23, 24 and 25 February 2015. Bringing together experts from all over the world for this trilingual event on the status of nationality and stateless persons, this meeting shall include key stakeholders who contribute to ending statelessness in various Ecowas countries, including representatives of regional and international organisations, United Nations agencies, civil society national human rights commissions, and academics. This meeting shall also provide a platform for people who were once stateless to talk about their difficulties and explain how their status was resolved. A’Salfo, the singer of Magic System and a United Nations peace ambassador, as well as Barbara Hendricks, UNHCR honorary lifetime goodwill ambassador, will share their personal experiences as a contribution to ending statelessness. 

“The first two days of the conference shall be devoted to a technical meeting to encourage the sharing of knowledge and experience amongst the experts. After defining sources of statelessness, they shall discuss measures to control this scourge seen through the prism of the thematic areas of identification, protection of stateless persons, as well as prevention and reduction of statelessness. The conference of ministers itself shall take place on 25 February, under the auspices of Mr António Guterres, the high commissioner, as well as high-level representatives from Ecowas and the Ivorian authorities. As an outcome of the discussions, it is expected that recommendations for the eradication of statelessness and a joint declaration of West African governments shall be adopted. On 4 November, to mark the 60th anniversary of the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, the UNHCR launched a global campaign to end statelessness by 2024. There are two pillars to this campaign. On the one hand, the public is invited to sign an online petition to end statelessness.” 


Strategic meetings at the national level

Meanwhile, in The Gambia, a meeting was held on 5 to 6 December last year, concluding with the drafting of a national action plan to eliminate statelessness by revising the legal texts on nationality and improving civil registration, amongst other things. It is planned to submit this plan of action to the Minister of Interior for approval.  Strategic partnership meetings were held in Liberia and Mali too in a bid to foster discussion on country-specific statelessness issues. These meetings brought together representatives from key ministries, university scholars, representatives of civil society, and the national human rights commissions.


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