“Everyone has the right to a nationality”

CONFERENCE: Addressing Statelessness in Europe: Closing Protection Gaps and Realising Everyone’s Right to a Nationality

University of Alicante, Spain; 6-8 May 2020

On 6-8 May 2020, the European Network on Statelessness (ENS) in collaboration with Fundación Cepaim will host a major conference to launch new comparative analysis on existing law, policy and practice on statelessness in Europe, including the pressing need to improve identification and protection.

The conference (download the agenda) is intended to facilitate the sharing of information and good practices among stakeholders from across Europe - including lawyers, NGOs, stateless activists, refugee community representatives and academics, as well as representatives from regional institutions, governments, inter-governmental-organisations, ombudspersons/monitoring bodies and other stakeholders mandated to work on issues related to statelessness and forced migration.


You can register your interest in attending by filling out an online form. We expect the conference to be over-subscribed but we will carefully review all applications and be able to confirm your place by latest 19 March. The registration will close on 12 March

About the issue

A stateless person is someone who has no nationality, someone who is not recognised as a citizen by any State. Statelessness affects over half a million people in Europe – both recent migrants and those who have lived in the same place for generations – denying many their fundamental rights. Its causes include state succession, gaps in nationality laws, discrimination, displacement, and nationality stripping.

Despite the extent of the problem, many states still lack robust policies to address statelessness. Critically, only a handful of countries in Europe have a dedicated statelessness determination procedure to identify people on their territory without a nationality and to offer appropriate protection status (including residence and other rights under the 1954 Convention) and subsequent naturalisation. Moreover, recent data shows that statelessness is a growing problem that needs to be addressed as part of Europe’s refugee response. According to Eurostat, nearly 100,000 people who applied for asylum in the European Union in 2015-2018 were recorded as ‘stateless’ or of ‘unknown nationality’. Accessing different routes to protection can be more difficult for stateless people due to their marginalisation and lack of documentation. Current flaws with registration procedures mean that stateless refugees and migrants are often wrongly assigned a nationality by officials based on their country of origin or language or may be recorded as having ‘unknown’ nationality. This can cause problems later, including a failure to identify (and prevent) the risk of statelessness among children born in exile, or barriers to family reunification and naturalisation. Moreover, a stateless person with no right to remain often has no country they can return to, so if their statelessness is not identified, they can face repeated, futile removal attempts and prolonged detention.


Juan Fernando López Aguilar MEP

Chair of European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE)

Ksenija Turković

Judge, European Court of Human Rights

Christophe Poirel

Director for Human Rights, Council of Europe

Katarzyna Gardapkhadze

First Deputy Director, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

Azizbek Ashurov

Director, Ferghana Valley Lawyers Without Borders

Chris Nash

Director, European Network on Statelessness

Ángeles Solanes Corella

Professor, University of Valencia

Nina Murray

Head of Policy and Research, European Network on Statelessness

Gábor Gyulai

Refugee Programme Director, Hungarian Helsinki Committee


Download the agenda

Funders & partners

ENS and CEPAIM are grateful to European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM), Oak Foundation, Sigrid Rausing Trust, and the University of Alicante for their support of this event.