“Everyone has the right to a nationality”

Call for Proposals - Addressing Statelessness in Europe: Closing Protection Gaps and Realising Everyone’s Right to a Nationality; University of Alicante, Spain; 7-8 May 2020

13 January 2020


On 7-8 May 2020, the European Network on Statelessness (ENS) will hold a major conference in Alicante for up to 300 participants 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 provisional programme) 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.

The objective is to identify new solutions and galvanise an effective pan-regional strategy to address current gaps and problems. By holding the conference in Spain, it is also hoped that it will help stimulate discussion and reform of the Spanish statelessness determination procedure, one of the first to be established in Europe but in relation to which there remains room for improvement. The conference will also showcase tools such as the ENS Statelessness Index and the #StatelessJourneys knowledge hub.

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.

Call for Proposals - how you can get involved

In addition to the designated plenary sessions, the conference will include a series of parallel, interactive workshops and panel sessions. For these, we are inviting external proposals from individuals and/or organisations relevant to the conference theme. We welcome proposals relating to research, projects, tools and/or good practices concerning the identification of statelessness, the protection of stateless people and/or other relevant issues, including the nexus between statelessness and forced migration, and how this relates to Europe’s refugee response (asylum registration, reception, refugee status determination, detention/return, family reunification, resettlement, and complementary pathways, and integration). Individual presentations should be approximately 15 minutes-long and in English. Alternatively, proposals can be made to facilitate a full workshop or multi-person panel session (120 minutes with a maximum of four speakers), including if you wish to collaborate with other individuals and/or organisations on a shared theme of interest. We particularly welcome proposals from people affected by statelessness and refugee/migrant/stateless community-led organisations.

To apply, please send your name/organisation (including position and contact details) and a proposal  of maximum 300 words for an individual proposal or maximum 600 words for a workshop or multi-person panel, to khadija.badri@statelessness.eu by Thursday 30 January. Please also contact Khadija Badri (copying Chris Nash chris.nash@statelessness.eu) if you have any questions. Selections will be made and proposers notified soon after 30 January.

The conference will be advertised and opened for registration by mid-February 2020.

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.