The Abidjan Declaration was adopted in 2015 by Head of States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
This declaration commits member states to support the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR ), to end statelessness by 2024. However, Ghana still remains as one of the few West African countries yet to implement the action plan.
Speaking at the 2nd Anniversary celebration of the Abidjan Declaration, Mr. Edmund Quartey, Associate Protection Officer, UNHCR Ghana said a key global and national action plan is to accede to the statelessness conventions.
He said there are two statelessness conventions: One is from 1954 which has to do with the status of statelessness and one from 1961 which has to do with the reduction of statelessness.
He further said, “Although Ghana has not fulfilled her pledge to accede to the convention by the end of 2016, we are hoping that as we are celebrating the second anniversary of the declaration, Ghana will take advantage and begin to take steps to be able to do so.”
Mr. Quartey noted that since 2014, there have been a growing number of countries which are implementing the declaration and they are hopeful that Ghana will join the rest of the member states in implementing the declaration.
“As we mark the second anniversary of the declaration, we are reminding states that have not acceded to the convention to do so by developing their national action plan, adopting them and implementing them.
The global action plan is from 2014 to 2024 and UNHCR is aiming to support states to end statelessness in 10 years.
“We believe the 10 year period to eradicate statelessness completely is achievable if states will begin to take the necessary action by ensuring that children are issued birth certificate as soon as they are born,” he said.
Birth registration rate in Africa, he pointed out is generally low, adding, “With Ghana’s birth registration rate around 63 per cent, it will be important that Ghana works to ensure that birth registration rates are increased.
A stateless person is defined by UNHCR, as an individual who is not considered a national by any State under the operation of its laws.
Across the world today, more than 10 million people are told they do not belong anywhere. They are called stateless and are denied a nationality.This phenomenon affects 1 million individuals in West Africa, with majority of them being children, according to UNHCR.
By Pamela Ofori-Boateng