UNHCR encourages Malta to accede to two Statelessness Conventions

Malta is not party to the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons

UNHCR Malta chief Jon Hoisaeter
UNHCR Malta chief Jon Hoisaeter

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Office in Malta has launched a report on statelessness in Malta on occasion of the Global “I Belong” campaign, which is aimed at ending the problem of Statelessness within 10 years. 

‘Mapping Statelessness in Malta’, the first comprehensive study on this topic in Malta, seeks to encourage the country’s accession to the two statelessness conventions along with their due implementation.

Malta – together with only three other EU member states (Cyprus, Estonia and Poland) – is neither party to the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons nor does it have in place a procedure to determine statelessness. Malta is also not party to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The country has only signed, but not yet ratified, the 1997 European Convention on Nationality which mirrors to a large extent the 1961 Convention.

Although Malta is not found to host a high number of individuals who are stateless, the report establishes that there are people who are or may be stateless or of undetermined nationality. Despite the limited size of the stateless population in Malta, it is important to recognise that each stateless person faces particular hardships that should not be disregarded.

The Malta report makes a number of key recommendations, including:

•             Malta should consider acceding to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness

•             Malta should consider establishing an effective statelessness determination procedure which would ensure the identification of stateless persons in its territory

•             Malta should ensure that the rights of stateless persons are upheld in the country

•             Malta should ensure that there is awareness about statelessness among relevant Government institutions that may encounter stateless persons, such as immigration and asylum authorities, citizenship authorities and civil registries among others

“Malta is not host to many stateless people, but every individual who is affected faces fundamental problems,” Jon Hoisaeter, UNHCR Representative to Malta, said.

“Stateless people do not have access to many of the basic rights that most of us take for granted – having no nationality often means having no future. But it is a problem that we can solve.” 

UNHCR is launching a global “I Belong” campaign aimed at ending within 10 years the problem of statelessness – a devastating legal limbo for the millions of people worldwide who lack any nationality and the human rights protections that go with it.

The goal of eradicating statelessness is looking increasingly possible thanks to dramatic recent progress in the number of States acceding to two key UN human rights treaties addressing the statelessness issue.