The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has praised Ghana for taking initiatives that would provide the necessary impetus for it to accede to the United Nations’ Conventions on Statelessness by 2016.
Ms Chansa Kapaya, UNHCR Country Representative in Ghana, said she was very confident that the country would be able to ratify the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.
She said Ghana’s role in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was very significant and ratifying the conventions would have greater impact on the rest of the sub-region.
The conference on the theme “Partnership to Resolve Statelessness” was organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Ivoirian Government, in collaboration with the ECOWAS.
Statelessness is a situation whereby an individual residing in a state is denied all the privileges and rights given to its citizens because he or she has no document to prove that he or she is a citizen.
These individuals are typically in this situation because they have difficulties proving they possess links to a State due, for instance, to a lack of birth registration and personal documentation that traces their origins and could confirm their identity.
Populations without birth certificates, abandoned children, undocumented stranded migrants, and individuals living in areas of state succession and border disputes constitute some of the major groups of people at risk of statelessness in West Africa.
She described the conference as a land mark event, adding that over 750,000 people in the sub-region were statelessness.
The Country Representative said Ghana’s ratification of the conventions would be the backbone for any activity that UNHCR would be undertaking in Ghana in the future.
She said the Commission would support Ghana in its attempts to close the gaps in the laws to prevent people from becoming stateless.
‘Statelessness is real, it can happen to any of us, and I think that we must all unite and ensure that no child is born stateless,’ she said.
“It is a basic human right, for every human being to belong to a nationality.”