Notes that the International Conference on Migration and Statelessness, which took place in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on 23-24 June 2014, was hosted by the Government of Turkmenistan and co-organized by IOM and UNHCR with the aim of discussing key regional challenges in these two spheres that have been identified as meriting further exploration: 1) migration, and 2) statelessness, and propose the way forward in addressing them. The event is built on the achievements of previous discussions of these issues, notably the 2013 High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development and the 2009 Regional Conference on Prevention and Reduction of Statelessness and Protection of Stateless Persons in Central Asia.
On Migration, the Conference participants:
Highlight the importance of the High-level Dialogue on Migration and Development (HLD) of the UN General Assembly in advancing interstate dialogue and cooperation on migration issues and noted significant progress in addressing migration as a global phenomenon made at the second HLD held in October 2013.
Reaffirm the commitment to the provisions made in the HLD Declaration adopted by UNGA on 3 October 2013 by resolution A/RES/68/4 and the need to ensure its implementation.
Note the convergence of views regarding the global significance of international migration for the development of countries of origin, transit and destination, the critical links between international migration and the economic, social and environmental aspects of development at the national, regional and international levels, and the relevance of migration for the post-2015 development agenda.
Acknowledge both positive and negative impacts of migration on development, recognizing that migration and migrants can contribute to inclusive and sustainable social and economic development, and to enhanced resilience and improved disaster preparedness in the face of climate change and environmental degradation, while noting that migration can also create new vulnerabilities and inequalities if poorly managed.
Note the need to continue strengthening synergies between international migration and development was highlighted. The following relevant measures were mentioned: ensuring that migration is adequately considered in the post-2015 development agenda by, inter alia, inclusion in the new partnership for development goal, as well as factoring migration into local, national and regional development strategies, poverty reduction strategies, health, labour and other sectoral policies and plans; and more systematically establishing synergies with related policy instruments, such as those for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
Reaffirm the need to continue efforts towards devising and implementing comprehensive migration management policies in full respect of the human rights norms and obligations at the national, regional and international levels. Effective and comprehensive migration management and cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination, as well as with non-governmental stakeholders, were identified as necessary for ensuring orderly mobility in full respect of the human rights of all migrants and for addressing the challenges and realizing the opportunities of migration for development.
Recognize the need to continue strengthening interstate cooperation as well as cooperation with relevant non-state actors to address irregular migration, to combat trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, to protect trafficked persons, to enhance public perceptions of migrants, to provide assistance and support to migrants caught in crisis situations, to improve the health of migrants and to ensure safe and orderly migration in full respect of the human rights of migrants.
Acknowledge the importance of ensuring the protection of the human rights of all migrants and their families both as an end in itself, and as a condition for harnessing the benefits of migration for migrants and societies. Accordingly, the commitment to the universally recognized principles and norms of the international law and obligations of States under the international treaties in the field of migration was reaffirmed. Noted the readiness to continue undertaking efforts to enhance the protection of the human rights of all migrants and their families. In this context, particular attention was called to the needs of vulnerable groups, such as children, youth and women, as well as migrants caught in crisis situations, to strengthening measures to eliminate migrant exploitation, including human trafficking, as well as manifestations and expressions of racism, discrimination and xenophobia as well as negative public perceptions of migrants and migration.
Acknowledge the importance of the human mobility dimension of humanitarian crises, and the need to consistently factor it into the policies and measures aimed at crisis preparedness, response and measures to address the medium to long-term consequences of crises for individuals and States.
Recognize that some groups of migrants experience increased health risks, and that improved migrant health would have benefits for migrants and their families, the public health outcomes in countries of origin and destination and the overall positive development outcomes of migration. In this regard, the participants noted the need for strategies and policies to address migrants’ health, which would be sensitive to the specific health needs of women, men and children, and include promotion of migrant-sensitive health policies and equitable access to health services for migrants, subject to national laws and practice, without discrimination on the basis of gender, age, religion, nationality or race.
Welcome the active efforts of Turkmenistan to develop cooperation with International Organization for Migration. A vivid example of sustained partnership in this area is the accession of Turkmenistan to the International Organization for Migration, which was followed by the systematization of plans adopted jointly with IOM.
Welcome the readiness of Turkmenistan for the practical implementation of the outcomes of this Conference through putting forward and initiation of the relevant Resolution of IOM.
On Statelessness, the Conference participants:
Recall the global mandate of the UNHCR and appreciated its efforts to increase awareness of and to resolve statelessness issues. It was further noted that 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. In this context, UNHCR is launching a global campaign to end statelessness by 2024.
Note that statelessness remains a major challenge in the 21st century across the globe. Protracted situations of statelessness account for the vast majority of the global population, which is estimated to be at least 10 million affected people. Statelessness can result from State succession, nationality laws which discriminate on the basis of gender or ethnicity, arbitrary deprivation of nationality, conflict of laws, gaps in nationality laws which create statelessness at birth or later in life, and due to administrative obstacles to acquisition of identity and nationality documents.
Highlight some key common challenges facing States in terms of statelessness across the region and beyond were described by the participants. In Central Asia, statelessness concerns most frequently persons who did not acquire any nationality following the break-up of the USSR, many of whom hold expired USSR passports and some stateless persons who arrived to the Central Asia region after 1991 from other CIS countries. Problems related to citizenship status and new cases of statelessness also continue to arise as a result of migration, for example due to provisions for loss of nationality as a result of residency outside the country of nationality. New situations of statelessness have also arisen due to requirements for lawful entry and departure and residence registration.
Note that globally, many States have already adopted effective strategies to reduce statelessness. Good examples of global best practices include nationality law reform in Côte d’Ivoire in 2013 to allow stateless people with deep roots in the country to acquire nationality through a simple declaration procedure, providing a potential solution for hundreds of thousands of stateless people. In the Russian Federation, some 600,000 stateless people are reported to have acquired nationality between 2002 and 2009 through a simplified naturalization procedure. In Brazil and Indonesia, the grant of citizenship to people left stateless by nationality laws in force in previous decades have been complemented by legislative reforms to prevent new cases of statelessness.
Recall that a Regional Conference on Prevention and Reduction of Statelessness and the Protection of Stateless Persons in Central Asia was held in Ashgabat in 2009, following which the States in the region have taken a number of steps to reduce and prevent statelessness, including the identification and registration of stateless persons and persons with undetermined nationality, reform of nationality legislation, as well as grant and confirmation of nationality and issuance of nationality documents.
Note the significant progress made by the host Government, Turkmenistan in addressing and solving situations of statelessness. In 2011, Turkmenistan became the first country in the region to become party to the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and in 2012, to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Following the accession, Turkmenistan also adopted a new law on citizenship. In 2011, a drive to register individuals with undetermined nationality was carried out by the State Migration Service with the support from UNHCR. The aim of the registration was to issue the persons with Turkmen nationality documents. As a result, between 2011 and 2014, close to 5,000 individuals were granted Turkmen citizenship through Presidential Decrees.
Commend the efforts being made by Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan adopted a new Citizenship Law in 2007, which recognizes as nationals all stateless former USSR citizens who have resided in the country for more than five years. New regulations on citizenship procedures were also adopted. Since 2009, more than 65,000 former USSR citizens have been issued with citizenship documents. This year, Kyrgyzstan has embarked on a further identification and documentation campaign for undocumented persons, with the ultimate goal of eliminating statelessness in Kyrgyzstan by 2016.
Reaffirm the reforms of nationality laws, policies and administrative practices are vital in resolving situations of statelessness and preventing new situations from arising. Examples of reforms to resolve existing situations included establishment of simplified procedures for confirmation of nationality and issuance of nationality documents as well as facilitated acquisition of nationality for persons who are identified as stateless. Nationality laws that do not discriminate on the basis of gender or ethnicity and which include a safeguard ensuring that children are not born stateless, were mentioned as good examples of means to prevent statelessness through legislation.
Note that further actions are required to ensure that stateless persons can enjoy their fundamental human rights, such as freedom from arbitrary detention and access to education and health care, including through grant of legal stay and issuance of identity documents reflecting their status of a stateless person.
Call upon the states and international organizations for further actions to address and resolve statelessness situations. It was noted that often as a first step, mechanisms for identification of stateless persons need to be improved, including through population census, surveys and registration campaigns. Establishment of formal statelessness status determination procedures was recognized as an important means of identification of statelessness in a migratory context. There was also broad recognition for the further need to explore multi- and bilateral agreements among States to facilitate sharing of information relating to applications for statelessness status and nationality determination.
Recognize that the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness constitute the backbone of the international legal response to statelessness. Taking steps towards accession to these Conventions by the States that are not yet parties was highlighted as an important element of effectively addressing statelessness.
Finally, expresse the support for cooperation mechanisms and partnerships among States and with other stakeholders including UN agencies, regional organizations and civil society, in order to better prevent and reduce situations of statelessness and to protect stateless persons.
The conference concluded by recommending that:
Outcomes of this conference be fed into the discussions in other relevant regional and global fora on migration and on statelessness, such as the Global Forum on Migration and Development, which will take place in Istanbul in 2015, and the first Global Forum on Statelessness, which will take place in the Hague in September 2014, as well as in the course of the regular annual meetings of the IOM and UNHCR, and be also reflected in the possible decisions of these meetings.