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Main Page > Elimination or Reduction of Future Statelessness, 1959-1961

United Nations Conference on the Elimination or Reduction of Future Statelessness, 1959-1961

On 8 August 1949, the Economic and Social Council, in its resolution 248 B (IX), appointed an ad hoc committee consisting of representatives of thirteen Governments, which was requested, inter alia, to consider means of eliminating the problem of statelessness.  The Committee met from 16 January to 16 February 1950 and decided to recommend to the Economic and Social Council the adoption of a draft resolution inviting Member States, inter alia, to “re-examine their nationality laws with a view to reducing so far as possible cases of statelessness which arise from the operation of such laws”, and also requesting the International Law Commission to prepare, at the earliest possible date, the necessary draft documents for the conclusion of an agreement or of agreements for the purpose of eliminating statelessness (report of the Ad Hoc Committee, E/1618, para 26).  By resolution 319 B III (XI) of 11 August 1950, the Economic and Social Council urged the International Law Commission to “prepare at the earliest possible date the necessary draft international convention or conventions for the elimination of statelessness”.

The Commission considered that this matter lay within the framework of the topic “Nationality, including statelessness”, on which it decided to initiate work while also appointing in 1951 Mr. Manley O. Hudson as Special Rapporteur for this topic (A/1858, para. 85) and subsequently in 1952 Mr. Roberto Córdova (A/2163, para. 84).  At its fifth session, in 1953, on the basis of a report containing draft articles submitted by the Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/64), the Commission provisionally adopted the text of two draft conventions, one on the elimination of future statelessness and the other on the reduction of future statelessness; both conventions were transmitted to Governments for comments (A/2456, para. 120). At its sixth session, in 1954, the Commission redrafted some of the articles in the light of the observations, submitted by Governments on the two draft conventions (A/CN.4/82 and Add. l to 8). At the same session, the Commission adopted the final drafts of both conventions (A/2693, para. 25). The Commission indicated in its report that it would be for the General Assembly to consider to which of the two draft conventions preference should be given (A/2693, para. 14).

On 4 December 1954, the General Assembly adopted, on the recommendation of its Sixth (Legal) Committee (A/2807), resolution 896 (IX), entitled “Elimination or reduction of future statelessness”, by which it expressed, inter alia, “its desire that an international conference of plenipotentiaries should be convened to conclude a convention for the reduction or elimination of future statelessness as soon as at least twenty States had communicated to the Secretary-General their willingness to participate in such a conference”.  The Secretary-General of the United Nations was requested to fix the exact time and place for the conference when that condition had been met.

The United Nations Conference on the Elimination or Reduction of Future Statelessness was convened by the Secretary-General at the European Office of the United Nations, in Geneva, where it met from 24 March to 18 April 1959. Thirty-five States were represented at the Conference. The Conference decided to use as the basis for its discussion the draft convention on the reduction of future statelessness – one of the two drafts prepared by the International Law Commission – and adopted provisions aimed at reducing statelessness at birth.  It did not, however, reach agreement as to how to limit the freedom of States to deprive citizens of their nationality in cases where such deprivation would render them stateless.  Consequently, the Conference recommended to the competent organs of the United Nations that it be reconvened at the earliest possible time in order to complete its work (A/CONF.9/SR.1-25).

The second part of the Conference was convened by the Secretary-General at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York, from 15 to 28 August 1961 (for the Final Act, see United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 989, p. 250). Thirty States were represented at the Conference.

On 28 August 1961, the Conference adopted the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 989, p. 175), which was opened for signature, subject to ratification, from 30 August 1961 until 31 May 1962.  In accordance with its article 18, the Convention entered into force on 13 December 1975.