On his statement Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights [1] argues in favour of the protection of stateless children.

Key messages

  • The best interest of the child is to have citizenship There should be no stateless children in Europe. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by every Council of Europe member state, provides that all children have a right to a nationality. The Convention’s overarching principle is that “In all actions concerning children […] the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” It is clearly in the best interest of the child to have citizenship from birth.
  • Stateless children can be found all over Europe . The origins of statelessness in Europe are diverse. In some cases, statelessness derives from migration and conflicting nationality legislation. In others, it is a consequence of state succession or state restoration. Many Roma face obstacles in proving or acquiring a nationality due to a lack of personal identity documents, especially birth certificates.
  • What should governments do? States should reach out to vulnerable groups, such as the Roma, and ensure that all children are registered in birth registry books immediately after their birth. States should grant citizenship automatically at birth to children born in their territory who would otherwise be stateless and not permit parents to choose an option that is clearly not in the child’s interest. States should also establish effective and accessible administrative procedures for everybody to acquire nationality, prioritising access for children and their guardians. NGOs and bar associations that provide counselling and free legal aid may play a key role in these processes.

- The whole article is available on the website of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe (French: Conseil de l’Europe) is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation. It was founded in 1949, has 47 member states with some 800 million citizens, and is an entirely separate body[1] from the European Union (EU), which has only 27 member states. Unlike the EU, the Council of Europe cannot make binding laws. The two do however share certain symbols such as the flag and the anthem.

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- Draft Council conclusions on Child Poverty

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- article 4897


[1] the Commission for Human Rights, an independent, non-judicial institution of the Council of Europe, mandated to promote awareness of, and respect for, human rights in the 47 member States

Last modified on February 6 2013.