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UNHCR and Tilburg university host first global forum on Statelessness

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UNHCR and Tilburg university host first global forum on Statelessness

15 September 2014

Today, UNHCR and Tilburg University are welcoming 300 participants to the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, for the First Global Forum on Statelessness. The Global Forum is the largest international conference on statelessness in the world and brings together close to 50 government representatives as well as staff of UN agencies, NGOs, academics, lawyers, journalists, stateless and formerly stateless individuals.

Opening the First Global Forum on Statelessness, Volker Türk, UNHCR's Director of International Protection explained why it is imperative that statelessness must end: "There is something deeply unethical about perpetuating human suffering through statelessness, especially when solutions are within our reach. It is difficult to imagine that there are individuals in today's world whom no state recognizes as its citizen. Simply put, it is morally untenable to allow statelessness, and the needless suffering it inflicts, to exist."

At least ten million people around the world are stateless and many are denied the basic rights that most people take for granted. The ability to attend school, access healthcare, earn a living, travel freely are just a few of the human rights that can be severely curtailed. However, with the necessary political will and with public support, statelessness is a problem that can be solved.

Panellists at the Global Forum will discuss a wide range of contemporary statelessness issues, ranging from best practices by States to tackle the problem and new research to better understand the dimensions of the problem. Personal testimonies will be provided by people who live with the impact of statelessness every day of their lives, as well as by several individuals who have overcome statelessness and acquired a nationality.

The Global Forum is also an important marker in the countdown to UNHCR's Campaign to End Statelessness in 10 years. The Campaign will be launched on 4 November 2014, as part of events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.

Mr. Türk recognized all the progress that has taken place in recent years. "Looking back over the last sixty years, it is fair to say that the last ten years have seen a real sea change in the way countries, civil society actors and the broader international community have dealt with statelessness. By way of example, over the last decade, over four million stateless people have acquired a nationality or had their nationality confirmed."

The First Global Forum on Statelessness provides a historical opportunity to build a global coalition out of a wide range of actors, with the common goal of finally putting an end to statelessness in the 21st Century.

Read the Keynote speech.