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Nationality reform a major step towards ending statelessness in Madagascar


Nationality reform a major step towards ending statelessness in Madagascar

6 February 2017
UNHCR's #IBelong campaign highlights the fact that 10 million people worldwide have no nationality and cannot go to school, get married, get a job or even see a doctor.

GENEVA – A change to the nationality law in Madagascar, giving men and women equal rights to pass on their nationality to their children, is a major step forwards for the campaign to reduce statelessness, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR said.

The agency said in a statement that it welcomed the reform and urged the Madagascar government to sign up to the 1954 and 1961 UN conventions on statelessness and to implement these through its own laws.

The new law, approved by parliament and signed into law by President Hery Rajaonarimampianina last month, also allows spouses and children to retain their nationality if a partner or a parent loses his or hers.

In 2014, UNHCR launched the global #IBelong campaign to end statelessness by 2024. The campaign calls for the removal of gender discrimination from nationality laws, a leading cause of statelessness.

Melanie Khanna, chief of the UNHCR statelessness section, said the Madagascar reform was a significant step forward for the #IBelong campaign.

“It is the first country to eliminate provisions from its nationality law preventing mothers from passing their nationality to their children on an equal basis as fathers since the campaign was launched,” she said, adding that several of the 26 remaining countries that have a similar nationality rule are considering reform.

Most cases of statelessness are a consequence of discrimination based on ethnicity, religion or gender.

Since the launch of the #IBelong campaign, there has been significant progress in getting governments to adopt the UN statelessness conventions.

Many have taken steps to reduce the number of stateless people in their territories. 

Globally, 89 countries are parties to the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, and about 68 have ratified or acceded to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.