The Brazil Plan of Action
In the framework of the 30-year anniversary of the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees—a landmark regional refugee law instrument that broadened the refugee definition and proposed new approaches to the humanitarian needs of refugees and internally displaced persons—the representatives of the Governments of Latin America and the Caribbean met in Brasilia, in December 2014. During this gathering the region updated and revisited its commitments under the Cartagena Declaration adopting the Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action. The Brazil Declaration was an extensive, government-led process, developed through several consultations. Among other developments, it provides a detailed framework and concrete regional commitments to uphold the right to nationality and identify, reduce and prevent statelessness in the region.
This instrument included for the first time, specific measures to address statelessness in the region, and Chapter 6 of the Plan of Action specifically enumerates commitments and actions to address statelessness, upholding the importance of the right to nationality as a fundamental human right, and setting up the goal that within ten years the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean will eradicate statelessness.
Some of the proposed activities under the Plan of Action include: promote the harmonisation of internal legislation and practice on nationality with international standards, facilitate processes such as birth registration and the issuance of documentation, implement late birth registration as a measure to confirm nationality, promote the establishment of effective statelessness status determination procedures, and adopt legal protection frameworks that guarantee the rights of stateless persons.
Treaty Accessions and Statelessness Determination Procedures
The most recent accessions to the statelessness conventions by states from the region have been Belize (1961 Convention, 14 August 2015), El Salvador (1954 Convention, 9 February 2015), Peru (1954 Convention, 23 January 2014 and 1961 Convention, 18 December 2014), Argentina (1961 Convention, 13 November 2014), Colombia (1961 Convention, 15 August 2014) and Paraguay (1954 Convention, 1 July 2014 and 1961 Convention, 6 June 2012). Out “of the 65 states currently party to the 1961 Convention, 16 are American countries”. The American countries (as of 2016) that have neither signed nor ratified either convention on statelessness are the Bahamas, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, the United States of America, Granada, Guyana, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Suriname and Venezuela.
The adoption of statelessness determination procedures (SDPs) remains to be a challenge worldwide. In the Americas, states are starting to adopt legislation to address this gap. Currently Mexico and Costa Rica are the only two countries in the region with statelessness determination procedures. Uruguay, Brazil and Peru have made pledges to adopt SDPs.