In the run-up to the event, ENS prepared a briefing note which outlines our main concerns and the actions needed if Europe is to end statelessness. We shared the briefing with government delegations we met in Geneva as part of our advocacy efforts.
States made commitments to address statelessness as part of their individual statements throughout the Executive Committee session. Several European countries, including North Macedonia, Georgia, Sweden, Germany, Bulgaria, Denmark, Malta, Turkey, Belarus and Albania made concrete pledges, including following advocacy efforts by ENS and our members.
Sweden, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Germany, Malta, Turkey and Belarus all made pledges to either accede to or withdraw existing reservations to the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and/or the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, with the Parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia approving accession the following day.
Bulgaria and Georgia both committed to improving their statelessness determination procedure, with Georgia pledging to provide free legal aid and halve the fee for applicants, and reduce the residence requirements to facilitate naturalisation for stateless persons. It also pledged to conduct door to door campaigning to identify and document stateless people, and to work with UNHCR to raise awareness and foster a common understanding of statelessness.
Albania committed to three actions, including the introduction of a statelessness determination procedure by 2020, training for all civil status officers by the end of the year, and a commitment to implementing all 2018 legislative amendments for children of Roma and Egyptian communities and children born abroad to Albanian parents by 2021. Finally, Denmark pledged to continue efforts for general avoidance of statelessness and to improve the cooperation between national authorities regarding identification of statelessness.
Where countries have not made pledges we will continue to seek to support our members in developing strategies to help galvanise action, as well as use our Statelessness Index to draw attention to continuing gaps in law, policy and practice.