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African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Resolution 234 on the Right to Nationality

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Horace S. Adjolohoun*
Affiliation:
African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (sathorace@yahoo.fr)

Extract

The right to a nationality is well established in international human rights law. In 1954 and 1961, the United Nations adopted the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, respectively. Inspired by Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the two Conventions provide for a right to nationality and prohibit deprivation or denial of nationality. In 2012, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) drafted four guidelines on statelessness that expand on provisions of the 1954 and 1961 UN Conventions. They contain guidance sections directed specifically at governments, civil society organizations, legal practitioners, decision-makers and the judiciary as well as UNHCR and other UN agency staff involved in addressing statelessness.

Type
International Legal Materials
Copyright
Copyright © American Society of International Law 2014

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References

* This text was reproduced and reformatted from the text available at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights website (visited April 17, 2014), http://www.achpr.org/sessions/53rd/resolutions/234/.

1 The United Nations instruments relating to nationality and statelessness include the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, Sept. 28, 1954, http://www.unhcr.org/3bbb25729.html; Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, Aug. 30, 1961, http://www.unhcr.org/3bbb286d8.html; Convention on the Nationality of Married Women arts. 1-3, Feb. 20, 1957, 309 U.N.T.S. 65; International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination art. 5(d)(iii), Mar. 7, 1966, 660 U.N.T.S. 195; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights art. 24(3), Dec. 16, 1966, 999 U.N.T.S. 171; Convention on the Rights of the Child art. 7-8, Nov. 20, 1989, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3; Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women art. 9, Dec. 18, 1979, 1249 U.N.T.S. 13.

2 UNHCR, Guidelines on Statelessness No. 1: The Definition of “Stateless Person” in Article 1(1) of the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, U.N. Doc. HCR/GS/12/01 (Feb. 20, 2012), http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendocPDFViewer.html?docid=ffa957b9&query=uidelines% 20statelessness; UNHCR, Guidelines on Statelessness No. 2: Procedures for Determining whether an Individual is a Stateless Person, U.N. Doc. HCR/GS/12/02 (Apr. 5, 2012), http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f7dafb52.html; UNHCR, Guidelines on Statelessness No. 3: The Status of Stateless Persons at the National Level, U.N. Doc. HCR/GS/12/03 (July 17, 2012) http://www.refworld.org/docid/5005520f2.html; UNHCR, Guidelines on Statelessness No. 4: Ensuring Every Child’s Right to Acquire a Nationality through Articles 1-4 of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness U.N. Doc. HCR/GS/12/04 (Dec. 21, 2012), http://www.refworld.org/docid/50d460c72.html.

3 African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, adopted July 11, 1990, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49 (1990) (entered into force Nov. 29, 1999).

4 UNHCR, Stateless People(2014), http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c155.html; Press Release, UNHCR, UNHCR Urges More Support for Statelessness Treaty on 50th Anniversary (Aug. 30, 2011), http://www.unhcr.org/4e5cec7b9.html.

5 African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 234: Resolution on the Right to Nationality (Apr. 23, 2013), http://www.achpr.org/sessions/53rd/resolutions/234/.

6 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, June 27, 1981, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/67/3 rev. 5, 21 I.L.M. 58 (1982); African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, July 11, 1990, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49 (1990).

7 See generally Japhet Biegon, Hard law, soft law and the legal significance of the resolutions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (2013) (draft L.L.D. thesis chapter, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria) (on file with author).

8 See generally Horace Adjolohoun, State Compliance with the Human Rights Jurisprudence of the ECOWAS Court (2012) (draft article) (on file with author).

9 African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Resolutions by the African Commission (2014), http://www.achpr.org/resolutions/about/.

10 In any case, compared with decisions on communications, which are equally non-binding in principle, resolutions of the African Commission should be considered as lawmaking or at least as carrying a persuasive legal authority. Moreover, they could acquire a binding character through opinio juris communis if endorsed by policy organs of the African Union and Member States—as illustrated by Resolution 97 of 2006 on States duty to implement decisions on communications—within six months. See African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 97: Resolution on the Importance of the Implementation of the Recommendations of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights by States Parties (Nov. 29, 2006), http://www.achpr.org/sessions/40th/resolutions/97/; Rules of Procedure of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted on October 6, 1995, art. 112.

11 Working Group on Statelessness and the Right to a Nationality in Africa, Communique´ (2013) (on file with author).

12 E-mail correspondence with Mr. Cle´ment Capo-Chichi, Benin Country Director for Amnesty International (on file with author).

13 Participants in the Regional Round Table on Statelessness in West Africa, Banjul Appeal on Statelessness (Dec. 6, 2013), http://www.refworld.org/docid/52f9d6fe4.html

14 See, e.g., Modise v. Botswana, Comm. No. 97/93, 2000 AHRLR 25 (ACHPR 1997); Amnesty International v. Zambia, Comm. 212/98, 2000 AHRLR 325 (ACHPR 1999). The same may apply to the newly operating African Court.

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