“Everyone has the right to a nationality”

A new, efficient way of learning about statelessness

3 July 2014 | Anne Laakko, Legal Officer (Statelessness), UNHCR, Geneva

Statelessness – a word and concept often regarded as complicated, technical and difficult. But awareness and basic understanding of statelessness often go a long way in identifying and starting to address the problem. And it’s really not rocket science.

What is statelessness? Why does it occur? Who is affected and how? What can be done to address it? To answer these questions and to make information about statelessness available to everyone in an accessible, practical and fun way, UNHCR has just launched its first public online course on statelessness. The course is aimed at anyone who might come across nationality and statelessness related issues in their work or who might just be interested to learn more about this serious human rights issue. The course is useful for lawyers, NGOs and others working with asylum, immigration or human rights, civil servants in central and local government, people working for the European Union institutions, academics and students, as well as journalists.

This course can be easily completed from the comfort of your armchair and takes no more than three hours. It will provide you with the basic understanding of statelessness. It also serves as an excellent starting point if you are planning on embarking on further reading (for example on Refworld Statelessness Special Features page) or training related to statelessness. The course is highly interactive and illustrative. It is built around modules which focus on:

  • the concept of nationality and causes of statelessness
  • identification of stateless persons and persons at risk of statelessness
  • prevention and reduction of statelessness, and
  • protection of stateless persons.

Various situations of statelessness and circumstances causing or contributing to the risk of statelessness as well as the international legal framework and UNHCR’s statelessness mandate are also explained. In addition, there are simple exercises and case studies throughout the course to immediately test what you have learned. In the near future, a voluntary test will be added to the end of the course and those who find it useful to have a proof for completion of the course will have a possibility to print a certificate.  

The launch of this e-learning course coincides with the 60th anniversary of one of the two UN conventions on statelessness, the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. In recent years, awareness of statelessness has significantly increased, as has the willingness to address the problem. Building on this momentum, UNHCR will be launching a 10 year campaign to end statelessness globally. This e-learning course is an important tool of broader awareness-raising, which is a vital element for reaching the ambitious but achievable goal of ending statelessness.

 Join the efforts to resolve the anomaly of statelessness and check out this course on https://trainingpost.com/course/statelessness. All you need to do to access the course is a simple registration with your name and e-mail address. Don’t let the shopping basket icon trick you – the course is for free. I wish you enriching and inspiring moments of learning, and please feel free to spread the word!  

Europe must act now to protect an estimated 600,000 stateless people who live in Europe today. Join the cause and sign the petition - http://www.statelessness.eu/act-now-on-statelessness For more information about ENS's campaign contact info@statelessness.eu

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