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Advocacy for the rights of stateless people

Mandated by the WCC 10th Assembly, the WCC has stepped up its efforts to advocate for the rights of the most vulnerable groups in society, including stateless people.
Advocacy for the rights of stateless people

© Greg Constantine/Nowhere People

The WCC 10th Assembly in 2013 called the ecumenical family to join and walk together in a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, bringing those left on the margins to the centre. As part of this process, and as mandated by the WCC Assembly Statement on the on the Human Rights of Stateless People, the WCC has stepped up its efforts to advocate for the rights of the most vulnerable groups in society, including stateless people.

Stateless people are individuals who are not recognized as citizens by any country in the world, and consequently are denied basic human rights – rights that individuals often take for granted: right to health care, to education, to own property, to travel, to get a birth or death certificate, etc. Without protection from any state due to their lack of legal identity, stateless people are vulnerable to discrimination, exploitation, violence. Women and children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

Convinced that “Compassion and care for one another and acknowledging the image of God in all humanity is at the core of our Christian identity and an expression of Christian discipleship” (WCC Assembly statement), the WCC has stepped up its advocacy efforts for the right to a nationality of stateless people and encouraged its constituency to contribute to ending statelessness in their own context. The Den Dolder Recommendations invite churches, for instance, to “creatively use their opportunities for registering important life events – such as birth, baptism, confirmation, marriage, and death – in ways that help people to secure documents that help reduce statelessness”.

In close collaboration with the Statelessness Section of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), WCC has been encouraging member churches to promote birth registration and gender equality in nationality laws.

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Virag Kinga Mezei is a Hungarian intern for the World Council of Churches (WCC) Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. With a passion for human rights, she regularly engages in discussions while also getting training through the WCC on mechanisms that lead to the achievement of racial and social justice.