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Statelessness in Canada: UNHCR Canada releases new study

A sculpture of a woman with a taped mouth used as a cover for statelessness study

An untitled sculpture by Toronto artist Stateless HE is featured as the impactful cover photo for UNHCR’s new study on statelessness

By Anaheh Ghookassian Khoygani in Ottawa, Canada

2019 marks the mid-point of UNHCR’s #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness. The #IBelong Campaign was launched in November 2014 with the goal of ending statelessness within 10 years. Together with States, civil society and other UN Agencies, the #IBelong Campaign seeks to end statelessness by 2024 by resolving existing situations, preventing new cases from emerging and by better identifying and protecting stateless populations around the world. To mark the mid-point in the campaign, UNHCR will be holding the High-Level Segment on Statelessness during its Executive Committee meeting in October 2019 giving States an opportunity to highlight key achievements and deliver concrete pledges to address statelessness.

The issue of statelessness is a man-made problem and occurs because of a bewildering array of causes. Entire populations of people may become stateless overnight due to political or legal directives, or the redraw of state boundaries. This lack of nationality fundamentally deprives these groups of rights that the majority of the global population take for granted. This fact is often what moderates the severity and immediacy of the problem of statelessness.

The #IBelong Campaign has played a catalytic role in raising the profile of the problem of statelessness and in encouraging the international community to take action. For example, since the Campaign was launched, 20 States have acceded to one or both of the United Nations Statelessness Conventions; two States have removed gender discrimination from their nationality laws; nine States have introduced statelessness determination procedures and 10 States have taken concrete steps to resolve protracted situations of statelessness.

In Canada, for the first time, a profiling exercise took place which led to the release of Statelessness in Canada: A study on the situation of stateless persons in Canada.

Despite limitations in arriving at an estimate of the total number of stateless persons in Canada, the study identifies the profiles of the different categories of stateless people in Canada, examines the mechanisms available to them to obtain status in Canada and provides a better understanding of the impact on the enjoyment of human rights of being a stateless person in Canada. The report also includes practical recommendations for the Government of Canada to help alleviate statelessness and to ensure that the rights of stateless people are recognize and protected under our laws.

The full study can be downloaded and read here