ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (June 23, 2014) – Delegates at the International Conference on Migration and Statelessness, in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, today emphasized the need to undertake targeted actions including legal reforms and greater international cooperation to tackle pressing challenges in the areas of migration and statelessness in Central Asia.
The conference focused on identifying practical measures to realize the agendas for migration and statelessness set out in the 2013 UN High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development and the 2009 Regional Conference on Prevention and Reduction of Statelessness and the Protection of Stateless Persons in Central Asia.
The conference, which was hosted by the Government of Turkmenistan and co-organized with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and International Organization for Migration (IOM), identified best practices for addressing situations of statelessness and for improving the management of migration in Central Asia and globally.
With the number of international migrants reaching an unprecedented 232 million in 2013 and projected to rise further to 405 million by 2050, migration is a key global issue. Central Asia is a major migration crossroads, and the Central Asian economies and societies are strongly affected by the human mobility.
IOM Director General William Lacy Swing called on participating States to work together in the spirit of trust and partnership to achieve safe and orderly migration for all, and to protect the rights of all migrants. He also highlighted the need to do more to leverage the potential of migration for development.
“The positive impact of migration is neither predetermined nor guaranteed. While everyone stands to gain from migration, migration can also create new vulnerabilities and inequalities if poorly managed. Mow is the time to act, to step up our efforts to unlock the potential of migration and societies,” he said.
William Swing highlighted the importance of States’ leadership to make these changes possible and thanked the Government of Turkmenistan for its proactive stance in organizing the conference. Turkmenistan became a member of IOM in 2003.
While migration poses vast opportunities and challenges for Central Asia, statelessness represents a major challenge to human rights in several Central Asian states. Many of the stateless are people who did not acquire the nationality of one the newly independent States following the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Stateless people in the region face significant obstacles in accessing their basic human rights, such as documentation, medical support and ability to travel, according to the Director of the International Protection Department of the UNHCR Volker Turk.
“UNHCR would like to congratulate the Government of Turkmenistan on the granting of citizenship to stateless persons, which shows its commitment to the human right to a nationality,” he said.
Turkmenistan has achieved considerable progress with regard to the reduction and prevention of statelessness e.g. by including safeguards to prevent statelessness in its 2013 nationality law. Turkmenistan has also acceded to the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons in 2011, and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness in 2012.
In 2011-2013 Turkmenistan has granted citizenship to almost 4000 stateless people. On the eve of the Conference, 786 stateless persons have been granted the citizenship of Turkmenistan be the decree of President.
Mr. Volker Turk also emphasized that this year UNHCR marks the 60th anniversary of the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. In this regard, UNHCR is launching a global campaign in September 2014 aimed at the elimination of statelessness within the next decade.