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UNHCR’s Open Letter to End Statelessness

4 November 2014

UNHCR’s Open Letter to End Statelessness

#IBELONG to a world where everyone has the right to a nationality. 

Across the world today more than ten million people are told they don’t belong ANYWHERE.

They are called ‘stateless’. They are denied a nationality. And with it, they are denied their basic rights.

Statelessness can mean a life without education, without medical care, or legal employment.

It can mean a life without the ability to move freely, without prospects, or hope. Statelessness is inhumane.

The main reason people are stateless is because of discrimination. Because of their ethnicity. Because of their religion. Because in some countries women cannot pass their nationality on to their children.

We believe it’s time to end this injustice. 
With enough courage we know it is possible. Governments can change their laws and procedures, and give stateless people their rights and a place to belong.

Within ten years, we can ensure everyone has a nationality. 
Because if we don’t this injustice will only get worse. A child is born stateless every ten minutes.

By the time you finish reading this letter another person may have started life without a nationality.

We are ready to make our voices heard. We believe that if we take a stand, others will join us. And if enough of us stand up we will end this inhumanity.

That is why UNHCR is launching the Campaign to End Statelessness in ten years.

Sixty years ago, the world agreed to protect stateless people.
Now it’s time to end statelessness itself.

António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Angelina Jolie, UNHCR Special Envoy
Surin Pitsuwan, former Secretary-General of ASEAN
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace laureate
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
Barbara Hendricks, UNHCR Honorary Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador
Carla Del Ponte, former Chief Prosecutor of two UN international criminal tribunals
Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Lakhdar Brahimi, former UN and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF
Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil
Hina Jilani, former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders
Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace laureate
Juan E. Méndez, ​UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
Adama Dieng, ​Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide
Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
Astrid Thors, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities
Alan Miller, Chair of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions
Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch
George Dalaras, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador (Greece)
Muazzez Ersoy, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador (Turkey)
Khaled Hosseini, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador (USA)
Osvaldo Laport, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador (Argentina)
Aidos Sagat, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador (Kazakhstan)
Jesús Vázquez, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador (Spain)
Alek Wek, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador (USA)
Ahmed Kathrada, human rights activist
Hugh Masekela, musician/composer
George Bizos, SC, human rights lawyer

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