Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations General Assembly Official Records: Thirty-first Session
Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Supplement No.12B (A/31/12/Add.2)
QUESTION OF THE ESTABLISHMENT, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONVENTION ON THE REDUCTION OF STATELESSNESS OF A BODY TO WHICH PERSONS CLAIMING THE BENEFIT OF THE CONVENTION MAY APPLY Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
1. The question of the establishment, in accordance with the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (A/CONF.9/15), of a body to which persons claiming the benefit of the Convention may apply was brought to the attention of the General Assembly at its twenty-ninth session by the Secretary-General.1
2. The note by the Secretary-General was submitted to the General Assembly in accordance with articles 20 and 11 of the Convention.
3. Paragraph 2 of article 20 of the Convention provides: "The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall, after the deposit of the sixth instrument of ratification or accession at the latest, bring to the attention of the General Assembly the question of the establishment, in accordance with article 11, of such a body as therein mentioned." Article 11 provides: "The Contracting States shall promote the establishment within the framework of the United Nations, as soon as may be after the deposit of the sixth instrument of ratification or accession, of a body to which a person claiming the benefit of this Convention may apply for the examination of his claim and for assistance in presenting it to the appropriate authority."
4. Six States - Australia, Austria, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - have ratified or acceded to the Convention. In accordance with article 18, the Convention entered into force on 13 December 1975.
5. In the explanatory memorandum submitted to the General Assembly at its twenty-ninth session, the Secretary-General stated the following:
"In connexion with the establishment of such a body, consultations have taken place with the States which have ratified or acceded to the 1961 Convention and with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It is the opinion of the Secretary-General - after having carried out these consultations - that the body mentioned in article 11 to which persons claiming the benefit of the Convention may apply should be established within the framework of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The appropriateness of such an arrangement results from the fact that a large number of refugees who are the concern of the High Commissioner are also stateless persons."2
6. At the end of its deliberations on the question, the General Assembly resolution 3274 (XXIX) of 10 December 1974, the operative part of which prove as follows:
"The General Assembly,
"1. Requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees provisionally to undertake the functions foreseen under the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness in accordance with its article 11 after the Convention has come into force;
"2. Decides to review, not later than at its thirty-first session, the opinion of the High Commissioner and the arrangements he shall have made in this regard, with a view to taking a decision on the establishment of the body envisaged under article 11 of the Convention."
7. Pursuant to the request contained in paragraph 1 of the aforementioned resolution, circular letters, dated 19 December 1975, were addressed by the High Commissioner to the six States parties to the Convention, seeking information relating to measures adopted by these States to implement the Convention and indications as to numbers of stateless persons in their territories. Four States - Austria, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - have replied to the High Commissioner's letter and their replies are summarized below. Two replies are still awaited.
8. The relevance of implementing measures in this context, it may be pointed arises from the most important provisions of the Convention, which are articles and 4, the effect of which may be briefly stated as follows. When a Contracting State does not confer its nationality on a person born in its territory at birth by operation of law, such nationality is to be conferred at a later age upon application, and the Contracting State may make its acquisition dependent on the fulfilment of one or more of the conditions exhaustively enumerated in the text (article 1, paras. 1 and 2). In the case of a legitimate child born in the territory of a Contracting State of a mother having the nationality of that State acquisition of the nationality has in any case to take place at birth by operation of law (article 1, para. 8). Where a person has not been granted the nationality of a Contracting State jure soli, because he has failed to make the required application by the prescribed age or because he has not fulfilled the required residence conditions, the Convention provides that, if one of the parents of such a person was a national of another Contracting State at his birth, that person shall be granted the nationality of that State jure sanguinis. In this case, acquisition of nationality may be made subject to one or more exhaustively enumerated conditions (article 1, para. 4). A person who was not born in a Contracting State, but one of whose parents was, at the time of the person's birth, a national of a Contracting State, shall receive the nationality of that State either at birth by operation of law or upon application under specified conditions (article 4).
9. In reply to the High Commissioner's letter, the Austrian Government indicated that, in anticipation of its accession to the Convention, the Austrian Nationality Law of 1965 already contained appropriate implementing provisions. Moreover, the object of these provisions, that is, to permit accession to the 1961 Convention, was specifically mentioned in the course of parliamentary procedure. The Irish Government stated that it considered that the obligations arising from the Convention were fulfilled by specified provisions of the Irish Nationality and Act, which entered into force on 17 July 1956. Consequently, no implementing measures were necessary. In Sweden, the Government has stated that the Swedish Citizenship Act of 1950 was amended to conform with the provisions of convention which, in this case, are articles 1 and 6. The Swedish amending legislation came into force on 1 January 1969. In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Government has stated that, before ratifying the convention, the United Kingdom enacted the British Nationality (No. 2) Act, 1964, the main purpose of which was to modify United Kingdom nationality law so that it complied with all the requirements of the Convention. Finally, in their communications to the High Commissioner, some Governments also supplied information on the number of stateless persons in their territories.
10. When the question of the establishment of the body under article 11 of the convention, to which a person claiming the benefit of the Convention may apply for assistance in presenting his claims to the competent national authority, was considered by the General Assembly at its twenty-ninth session, it was indicated by the Secretary-General that it was not possible at that time to foresee realistically the additional quantum of work and staff requirements which might be involved in assuming these functions (A/C.3/L.2137). It is possible, however, at the present time for the High Commissioner to state, now that the Convention has been in force for almost nine months and in view of statistics of stateless persons made available so far by parties to the Convention, that the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees continues to be prepared top discharge the functions of the body envisaged by article 11 of the Convention without such a decision of the Assembly necessarily involving allocation of additional finances or staff to the budget of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.
1 Official Records of the General Assembly, Twenty-ninth Session, Annexes, agenda item 99, document A/9691.
2 Ibid., para. 4.