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Historic symposium on statelessness plans joint interreligious action

Historic symposium on statelessness plans joint interreligious action


14 December 2017

An “Interfaith Symposium on Statelessness” held 7-8 December in Rome focused, for the first time in history, on joint actions from Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian and Jewish groups to address statelessness.

The symposium was cosponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Council for World Mission, and World Council of Churches.

The UNHCR estimates about 10 million people worldwide do not belong to a nationality, and in many cases it restricts their ability to move freely and enjoy civil rights such as education or property ownership. Statelessness is often passed down generationally, becoming a systemic problem.

Participants in the symposium reflected on childhood statelessness resulting both from lack of birth registration as well as from gender discrimination in laws preventing mothers from conferring nationality to their children.

All members of the group affirmed that there were principles in their faith traditions which would hold them accountable for working to end statelessness. This does not mean that the faiths address the issue directly, rather that there are - at a minimum - teachings that relate to the issue indirectly and point to specific kinds of action. These specific teachings will be explored by symposium participants in the weeks following the conference and be included in a future joint declaration on statelessness.

“Without a nationality, a stateless person is excluded from enjoying the rights, freedoms and opportunities to which everyone should be entitled”, said Peter Prove, director of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. “Stateless people are invisible but they are among us - fellow travellers on the pilgrimage of justice and peace, and it is our responsibility to recognize them, name what complicity we have in their situation, and accept the gifts they have to offer within our communities.”


WCC Assembly Statement on the Human Rights of Stateless People

UNHCR - Ending statelessness

WCC work for the rights of stateless people

Council for World Mission