GENEVA – The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) welcomes the decision of Georgia to accede to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. The instruments of accession were deposited at the UN in New York on 23 December and the Convention will enter into force in Georgia on 22 March next year.
In addition to becoming the most recent state-party to the 1954 convention, Georgia is also one of the first to implement its pledges towards the prevention and reduction of statelessness that the country had made at UNHCR's Ministerial Conference in Geneva on 7 and 8 December. The conference was the culmination of UNHCR's political and diplomatic efforts to rally renewed support and commitments for the fundamental legal treaties enabling the UN refugee agency to provide protection and assistance to refugees and stateless people worldwide.
In 2011, a total of eight countries deposited their instruments of accession or ratification to one or other of the two UN statelessness conventions, setting a new record of accessions in one year. Another 24 countries made commitments at ministerial meeting in relation to ratification of the statelessness conventions.
"By acceding to the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons Georgia is joining the international community of good practice in its efforts to ensure that the rights of stateless persons are respected," said Simone Wolken UNHCR Representative in Georgia. "This is a milestone in the broader agenda of Georgia to demonstrate international best practices and to ensure the enjoyment of rights of all persons living in Georgia. UNHCR sincerely congratulates Georgia on this achievement and stands ready to support the Government in its implementation of this Convention," she added.
Accession to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons will allow the Georgian government to define statelessness under national law, establish statelessness determination procedures to grant a status that would respect the rights and establish the responsibilities of stateless persons in Georgia.
According to the official statistics as of September 2011, some 1,600 stateless people have been identified and registered by the Georgian authorities. A significant group of people in Georgia, estimated at approximately 4,000 remain at risk of statelessness.
Achieving an increased number of states parties to the UN Statelessness Conventions is key to addressing statelessness, a problem which affects up to 12 million people around the world.
The 1954 convention, which now has 71 parties, establishes minimum standards of treatment for stateless persons and is designed to ensure that they are not left in legal limbo. The 1961 convention, which now has 42 state parties, is designed to prevent statelessness from occurring and thereby reduce it over time, mainly by requiring that states put in place safeguards in nationality laws such by requiring that people cannot renounce their nationality without first having acquired another.
The UN refugee agency will continue advocacy for Georgia to accede to 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, to reduce statelessness in the country and introduce changes in national legislation that reflects international standards.