Briefing Notes, 10 July 2001
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Rupert Colville – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 10 July 2001, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Uruguay has passed a law (Ley Numero. 17.349) approving the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Uruguay will be an official party to this Convention once the instruments of ratification have been deposited with the UN Treaty Office in New York. This will make Uruguay the first country to accede to the Statelessness Convention in 2001.
Stateless people – people who are not considered a national of any State – can face a multitude of difficulties, including being unable to go to school, travel, work, or even to marry and register the birth of a child. A person may become stateless because of conflicting laws or changes in State sovereignty, for example, or can be born stateless. The 1961 and 1954 Statelessness Conventions are the primary international instruments aimed at avoiding statelessness and regulating and improving the status of stateless persons. As requested by the UN General Assembly, UNHCR assists individuals and States in resolving cases of statelessness and in signing up to the Conventions.
As of January 2001, there were 53 States parties to the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, and 23 States parties to the 1961 Statelessness Convention. Uruguay's accession will bring the number to 24.
UNHCR launched a campaign in 1998 to increase the number of countries signed on to the Statelessness Conventions. Since then, nine additional countries have signed on to the 1954 Convention and four have acceded to the 1961 Convention.