3. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)In many countries, statelessness is the product of discrimination. Governments and societies often collude to maintain statelessness and its disadvantages for some. Elsewhere, states see little political advantage to addressing statelessness. As the UN’s Independent Expert on Minorities has explained: “A great many stateless persons today are members of minority groups. Evidence from all regions demonstrates that many additional minority populations live in highly precarious legal situations. Even though they may be entitled under law to citizenship in the State in which they live, they are often denied or deprived of this right and may in fact exist in a situation of statelessness”. There are abundant examples around the world where discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion or other status has caused or perpetuated statelessness – including the Rohingya of Myanmar, Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic, Karana of Madagascar and Bidoon of Kuwait. Addressing cases of discriminatory denial and deprivation of nationality is of fundamental importance to tackling statelessness.
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) was adopted in 1965 and currently has 178 states parties. Implementation is monitored by the CERD Committee, a body of independent experts that meets three times annually in Geneva
Article 1 of the ICERD defines racial discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life”. Among the rights which ICERD affirms should be enjoyed without discrimination is “the right to a nationality” – this is laid down in article 5, paragraph d(iii) of the Convention.