MPs from around the world say #IBelong
Members of Parliament (MPs) from 39 countries (Armenia, Angola, Bahamas, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Ecuador, Guinea, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, Viet Nam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) met recently in South Africa to discuss how they can work together to end statelessness. The Conference on “Ensuring Everyone’s Right to a Nationality: the Role of Parliaments in Preventing and Ending Statelessness” was jointly organized by UNHCR, the Inter Parliamentary Union and the Parliament of South Africa and took place November 26-27, 2015 in the Old South African Assembly Chamber at the Parliament in Cape Town.
All of the nearly 100 MPs attending the meeting agreed that the scourge of statelessness is a serious human rights issue that hasn’t received the attention it deserves. They expressed concern about the particular vulnerability of women and children to the risk of statelessness and called for more concerted efforts to end statelessness.
In a final document from the meeting, the Parliamentarians committed to advocate for 7 concrete Actions. These included a review of their own nationality legislation to make sure it properly prevents and resolves statelessness and steps towards accession to both of the international conventions on statelessness. They called for a follow up meeting to assess progress and actions taken. Finally, participants agreed to explore the creation of an informal group of MPs who will act as champions for the #IBelong campaign with the support of the IPU and UNHCR.
The majority of MPs attending the event also signed the #IBelong Open Letter to End Statelessness, as did Martin Chungong, Secretary General of the Inter Parliamentary Union. The Open Letter has now been signed by over 81,000 supporters.