1. A stateless person is a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law. There are more than 600 000 stateless people in Europe. Many of them have lived in Europe all their lives and were born here. Others have migrated to Europe.
2. Sometimes statelessness is passed on from parents to their children. Other times, a child fails to acquire a nationality at birth because of a conflict between different nationality laws. Children born to refugee parents who can only acquire the nationality of the country of origin through a registration procedure will not be able to acquire that nationality owing to the very nature of refugee status which precludes the parents from contacting their authorities.
3. Stateless children may be living without a legal identity in Europe, which will be an impediment for their daily lives. They may have problems accessing education, health care and future employment.
4. Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child says that every child has the right to acquire a nationality and that States Parties shall ensure the implementation of this right, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless. Article 6.2 of the European Convention on Nationality (ETS No. 166) provides that each State shall provide for its nationality to be acquired by children born stateless in the country.
5. The Parliamentary Assembly should therefore consider this matter and call on the member States of the Council of Europe to respect the content of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Nationality and to ensure that those children born in Europe who would otherwise be stateless acquire a nationality.