Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance

Statelessness in the Netherlands and the GBA

A Practitioners Workshop

28Nov2012 12:00 - 16:00

Workshop

The Netherlands has been criticized by the UNHCR for the deficient practices in determining whether an individual is stateless or not. The lack of a clear coherent determination procedure stateless people could turn to in order to determine their legal status forms an administrative obstacle to their ability to access protection they are entitled to. This practictioners workshop brings together Dutch policy makers, municipality civil servants and lawyers on the topic of registration of stateless persons in Dutch municipality personal records, the GBA.

Background

A stateless person has no nationality, no state to turn to for protection, and no right to be anywhere. It has been established since the dawn of UN that such a person needs international protection, and numerous UN member states, including the Netherlands, have acceded to two UN Conventions on Statelessness, committing to provide such protection.

Thus, there is the acknowledgement of the problem, and the commitment to deal with it. However, what happens, on a very practical level, to a stateless person in the Netherlands who seeks protection? 

The main database used by Dutch authorities to register the nationality of non-Dutch nationals is the collection of municipality records on each individual – the GBA (Gemeentelijke Basis Administratie). There are surprisingly few individuals registered as “stateless” in the GBA (about two thousand), many more are registered as having an “unknown nationality” (about eighty three thousand). What are the procedures behind those labels, and what are their consequences for the legal position of stateless persons in the Netherlands? The guidelines provided to GBA civil servants on determination of nationality of non-Dutch nationals are in direct contradiction with the UNHCR discourse on statelessness, and leave nearly no room for ever registering anyone as stateless. Is the Netherlands violating its international law obligations on this administrative level? How do Dutch civil servants and lawyers deal with this situation in their everyday work?

Setup

The workshop brings together Dutch policy makers, municipality civil servants and lawyers on the topic of registration of stateless persons in Dutch municipality personal records, the GBA. The aim of the meeting is to generate a discussion on the current situation in the Netherlands concerning the registration of stateless persons, and exchange the views on the issues among participants with different professional backgrounds.

The event is organized by ACELG Ph.D. researcher Katja Swider, within the scope of her NWO-funded project “Determination of Statelessness in Europe”.

Attendance

Attendance is by invitation only. Please send an email to Katja Swider, k.j.swider@uva.nl, if you are interested in receiving information on a follow-up meeting.

Published by  ACELG