UNHCR applauds Jamaica for signing the international convention to protect individuals without a nationality

February 19, 2013


Washington, DC, February 19, 2013 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) applauds Jamaica on its efforts in preventing statelessness by becoming party to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

Statelessness is a phenomenon affecting many people in the Caribbean region. There are numerous individuals of Haitian descent who have either been deprived of their citizenship, never acquired citizenship at birth or whose citizenship has not been established or fully documented. In Jamaica, statelessness specifically affects children born to Cuban parents. UNHCR is pleased that Jamaica has taken steps to reduce potential situations of statelessness and is showing leadership on this human rights issue,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Regional Representative to the United States and Caribbean.



In Search of Identity: An ailing 75-year-old stateless man sits alone in his room in a camp in Bangladesh. View more photos about statelessness in Greg Constantine’s gallery: 

Nowhere People. Photo © UNHCR/G. Constantine.

Statelessness affects up to 12 million people worldwide. Most stateless individuals do not have secure residence in the countries where they live and they are generally denied the right to work and access to education and health care. The 1961 Convention sets out safeguards to prevent statelessness from occurring and thereby reducing the number of stateless people over time.

In 2011, UNHCR launched a campaign to end statelessness.  Since then, UNHCR has seen significant increases in the number of states party to both the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and also the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. Jamaica is the 50th state to become party to the 1961 Convention, contributing to the significant increase from 37 parties at the beginning of 2011.  Jamaica is the first of the CARICOM states to accede to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.