“Everyone has the right to a nationality”

Kick-off seminar, Budapest 2012

The ENS Kick-Off Seminar was the first major capacity-building initiative of the Network. It was held from 19 to 21 November 2012 in Budapest. 30 members from 28 European countries participated in the seminar. The aim was to share information and expertise, while also engaging in joint mapping and planning activities for addressing statelessness in Europe. The seminar was made possible by the generous support of the Global Learning Centre of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the willingness of the European Youth Centre of the Council of Europe in Budapest to host the event. Click here to view the full programme.

The first half of the seminar was dedicated to discussing some core conceptual issues in the field of statelessness, including:

  • definitional questions relating to nationality and statelessness
  • the international legal framework for the prevention of statelessness (1961 UN Convention and 1997 European Convention on Nationality)
  • the purpose and functioning of Statelessness Status Determination Procedures
  • methods for mapping statelessness
  • discrimination and statelessness (with a focus on the Roma in the Western Balkans)
  • litigating statelessness before international and regional human rights bodies
  • the role of different stakeholders in addressing statelessness, including UNHCR and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

A selection of the presentations and resources used during these training sessions can be accessed through the links at the bottom of this page. If you wouldbe interested to discuss or receive presentations from other sessions, please contact Laura van Waas, ENS Capacity Building Focal Point at Laura.vanWaas@tilburguniversity.edu.

The second half of the seminar focused on mapping and planning. A range of challenges were identified that are common to a number of countries in the region or, indeed, face Europe as a whole when it comes to tackling statelessness – such as the overall low level of awareness of the issue. Participants also raised examples of a wide variety of activities that have contributed to identifying, preventing or reducing statelessness, or protecting stateless people, including: research projects, legal assistance programmes, strategic litigation and training initiatives targeting civil servants or students.

Among the concrete ideas raised for future ENS engagement were:

  • raise the profile of the issue by targeting specific individuals or organisations for dedicated training (such as embassy staff or national ombudsmen)
  • identify stateless people who can act as spokespersons for the issue
  • build a collection of stories or videos on experiences of statelessness to shed light on the human impact of the problem in order to support advocacy inititives
  • explore certain problems or (the effects of) particular policies relating to statelessness across a number of countries, or the region as a whole, through the development and use of dedicated research templates to map issues in order to better inform policy-making
  • explore the scope for increased and better coordinated strategic litigation

As part of its capacity-building strategy to deepen the Network and its members’ cooperation on and understanding of statelessness and the means to tackle it in Europe, ENS will actively fundraise to organise similar seminars in future.

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Selected resources from the ENS Kick-Off Seminar:

-        Presentation on the function of nationality and mechanics of nationality law

-        Presentation on Statelessness Determination Procedures

-        Presentation on litigating statelessness

-        Presentation on mapping statelessness – example of the United Kingdom

-        Presentation on discrimination and statelessness – example of the Western Balkans

-        Factsheet: 5 steps to effective protection of stateless persons

Information about future training events and other Network activities is available in the ENS Newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter click here.