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The European Network on Statelessness (ENS) - from Chris Nash

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The European Network on Statelessness (ENS) - from Chris Nash

The European Network on Statelessness (ENS) is a civil society alliance committed to addressing statelessness in Europe. It was launched in 2012 and now has members in 39 countries. The period 2015-16 has proved pivotal both for the development of the ENS and the external environment in which we work. We have consolidated our Network after transitioning from being a project of our founding members to become an independent charity with a growing membership now covering 39 countries. During this period, we have published two comparative research reports, conducted 14 country studies, organised four regional conferences/roundtables, facilitated three regional training workshops, supported over 20 national trainings, and started to implement a pan-regional litigation strategy. This has only been possible due to committed engagement of our members across Europe, as well as support from donors and other partners willing to back what was initially a fledgling initiative.

Over the last two years, a major focus for us has been our #StatelessKids campaign (described in more detail in a separate essay in this report) which promotes the right of every child to acquire a nationality. This aligns with our strategy of seeking new ‘entry points’ to tackle statelessness, and has enabled us to engage an array of new supporters. As well as child rights actors, these include a dynamic force of youth ambassadors who attended the first ever Youth Congress on statelessness which we organised in Brussels in July 2016.

Other current thematic priorities include our project to address Roma statelessness as well as our project to protect stateless persons from arbitrary detention. Both of these initiatives will be increasingly visible during 2017 as we believe that continued awareness-raising is critical to maintain the scale and speed with which the issue of statelessness has emerged in recent years. We have attracted increasing subscribers to our weekly blog as well as seen our campaign mailing list grow to over 20,000 supporters. As well as our capacity-building programmes within Europe, we have also sought to share our learning with other nascent regional statelessness networks to help foster a growing global civil society coalition.

Nowhere is the ambition of eradicating statelessness more achievable than in Europe. The debate now is on ‘how’, rather than ‘what is’ or ‘why’ should we address the problem.  In 2017 and beyond we aim to build on our campaigning work to date, as well as utilise other markers of progress such as the first ever Conclusions on statelessness adopted by the European Council in December 2015. By targeting advocacy at the national level we hope to secure increased law and policy reform across Europe.

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