Operational Context

UNHCR estimates that some 2,000 Roma remain at risk of statelessness in Serbia due to lack of personal documentation, approximately 300 of whom still lack birth registration. Serbia has adopted systemic solutions that enabled subsequent birth registration and eased the obtaining of personal documents and thus citizenship status for persons whose ancestors had been living in Serbia for generations, but who remained without personal documents and access to basic rights. However, for the prevention of future cases of statelessness the main obstacles are two bylaws[1] which stipulate that data on parents may be entered into the birth registry books only on the basis of parents’ identity cards. That prevents birth registration for children whose parents are undocumented at the time of their birth.  

As of October 2019, UNHCR Serbia, the Ministry for Public Administration and Local Self-Government and the Ombudsperson have signed a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) and comprise an Operational Group within the MoU framework. Over the next two years, the Group aims to review existing problems of persons at risk of statelessness in exercising their right to register in birth registries and to undertake several activities to create prospects for the immediate birth registration of all children born in Serbia.

[1] Instruction on administering registry books and forms of registry books and Rulebook on the procedure for the issuance of birth notification and form of the issuance of birth notification in a health care institution

Birth certificate of a child born in an informal Roma settlement in Belgrade. Immediate registration of Roma children whose parents lack personal documents is key to preventing statelessness © UNHCR / Imre Szabo, November 

Strategy Objective

1. Improving birth registration to prevent statelessness.

Goal: Ensure the full implementation of adopted legislation, and the full access to immediate birth registration of children born in hospitals whose parents lack personal documentation.


Strategy Timeframe: 2017 to 2024

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