On 26 March 2021 the National Human Rights Centre of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) co-organized a roundtable to review international standards, and share best practices and achievements in the eradication of statelessness in Central Asia.
The roundtable reaffirmed the commitment of all Central Asian States to implement the global #IBelong campaign to end statelessness by 2024. It was opened by Mr. Akmal Saidov, Director of the National Human Rights Centre of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and Mr. Hans Friedrich Schodder, UNHCR Representative for Central Asia.
In his greeting Mr. Saidov noted that “In accordance with the last year appeal of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to take decisive measures to reduce the number of stateless persons in Uzbekistan, 50,000 people were granted Uzbek citizenship. A new procedure for granting citizenship directly to stateless persons permanently residing in our country for 15 years is being introduced. Thanks to this, another 20 thousand people will have the opportunity to become citizens.”
“Central Asia is an inspiring example that when there is political will and collaboration statelessness can be eradicated. We appreciate the tremendous efforts made by the Governments, authorities, and people of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan in addressing this problem. All five states have made great progress in reducing and preventing statelessness and implementing key provisions of the two UN Statelessness Conventions. With only four years of the #IBelong campaign still ahead and marking the 60th anniversary of 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, we would like to encourage and support accelerated progress, crowned by accession to these two important conventions,” said Mr. Schodder.
During the roundtable participants reviewed international standards in statelessness reduction and prevention, assessed overall progress in the eradication of statelessness in Central Asia and presented best practices and important achievements. Participants also discussed remaining gaps in resolving statelessness issue, legislative amendments required to close them, and the implementation of pledges made by Central Asian states at the High-Level Segment on Statelessness in Geneva in October 2019.
The event was attended by officials from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Human Rights Ombudsperson’s Offices, experts of UNHCR, other UN Agencies, and civil society organizations working on nationality and statelessness issues.
Since the launch of the global #IBelong campaign in 2014, more than 95,000 cases of statelessness have been resolved in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. As of 31 December 2020, there were over 88,000 known stateless persons waiting for a solution in Central Asia, but the actual extent of statelessness is believed to be higher.