UN calls for action over 12 million stateless people

August 25, 2011.  The United Nations has estimated that some 12 million people in the world have no citizenship of any country. As a result these people are denied many basic human rights. They say the problem is mostly occuring in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

These people face problems as basic as opening a bank account, owning property, getting legally married or registering the birth of a child. It's also getting worse as more stateless children are born to stateless parents.

To fix the problem, the UN is calling for more countries to sign two conventions on statelessness. One is from 1954 and has 66 nations, the other is from 1961 and only has 38 signers. The two conventions would entitle treatment standards of stateless people as well as providing a legal route for states to reduce the problem.

People often become stateless for reasons such as the break up of a country such as the Soviet Union or the creation of new ones such as in Africa and Asia.

Stateless groups include hill tribes in Thailand, some gypsy groups in Europe, and the Bedoun peope in the Gulf States of the Arab peninsula.

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