Today, a UNHCR-commissioned report analyzing the legal practice on statelessness in Norway is launched. Commending Norway’s commitment to end statelessness, UNHCR reiterates its concrete recommendations to the country in this area.
In the report “Statsløse i norsk rettspraksis”, the Norwegian Organization of Asylum-Seekers (NOAS) provides an analysis of the situation for stateless persons in Norway five years after a mapping of statelessness in Norway was undertaken by UNHCR’s Representation for the Nordic and Baltic Countries.
Through the examination of a number of concrete court cases with stateless persons, the new report maps the application of the 1954 Statelessness Convention in Norwegian case law, with a particular focus on the interpretation of the definition of statelessness and the legal status of stateless people.
NOAS concludes that the gaps in legislation and practice which were identified by UNHCR in the earlier mapping still exist, and that several areas of Norwegian case law are in breach of the recommendations from UNHCR.
“Norway is a long-standing partner in our collective international efforts to end statelessness, and UNHCR is grateful for its continued commitment, most recently confirmed at the High-Level Event on Statelessness in 2019. We reiterate our recommendations to Norway to introduce a definition of statelessness in the legislation, and to establish a dedicated statelessness determination procedure in order to better identify and protect stateless people,” says Henrik M. Nordentoft, UNHCR’s Representative to the Nordic and Baltic Countries.
Recently, the Norwegian government accepted recommendations from the UN Human Rights Council as part of its Universal Periodic Review of Norway to consider these concrete steps relating to statelessness, and UNHCR stands ready to support and assist in the process.
Moreover, it is positive that the Norwegian Government in October 2016 issued an instruction that allows stateless children born in Norway to acquire Norwegian citizenship in line with the standards in the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. This is an important step to ensure that no child is born stateless – the clear goal of the joint UNHCR-UNICEF Coalition on Every Child’s Right to a Nationality.
UNHCR has carried out mappings of statelessness in several countries in Europe, including Norway . The objective is to raise awareness and create a better understanding of the situation of stateless persons. In addition, it is UNHCR’s hope that the mappings and follow-up reports, like the one just published by NOAS, will contribute to a continued dialogue with governments to limit statelessness and strengthen the protection of stateless persons in the countries of the region.
This aligns with the vision of UNHCR’s ambitious #IBelong campaign – a 10-year action plan, launched in 2014 in partnership with States, international organizations, and civil society, with the aim of eliminating statelessness globally by the end of 2024.
Although having a nationality is a human right, millions of people are stateless across the globe. Stateless individuals do not exist “on paper”, are denied a nationality, and officially do not belong to any country – generally due to regulatory and legal barriers. As a result, they often aren’t allowed to go to school, see a doctor, get a job, open a bank account, buy a house or even get married. Basic rights and services that the rest of us take for granted.
“Statelessness is a global problem, affecting millions of people, but it is possible to solve with relatively simple changes in law and practice. UNHCR has set an ambitious goal of ending statelessness by 2024, but in order to do that we need States and other stakeholders to step up their efforts, including Norway,” says Henrik M. Nordentoft.
Read the full report “Statsløse i norsk rettspraksis” from NOAS (2020) here.
Access the UNHCR Mapping on Statelessness in Norway (2015) here.
Learn more about UNHCR’s #IBelong campaign here.
See our “5 things to know about Statelessness” here.