The goal is to eradicate statelessness in the world by 2024, thus in this context, Serbia has made great progress in this area and this goal shall be achieved quickly, as data shows that about 700 members of the Roma national minority have remained unregistered in the registry books, states the announcement from today’s signing of an agreement on the continuation of cooperation between the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, the Protector of Citizens and the UNCHR in the Republic of Serbia.

 In order to prevent the risk of statelessness, the Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government Branko Ružić, the Protector of Citizens Zoran Pašalić and Head of the UN Agency for Refugees Hans Friedrich Schoeder signed an Agreement on Understanding on further cooperation in considering possible problems faced by members of the Roma minority in exercising their right to entry into the birth register and other rights regarding their personal status.

Ružic stated that entry into the Birth Register is a precondition for exercising all other rights, such as social and health care, adding that regulating these rights was the first step in preventing any risk of statelessness.

Ružić reminded that the first agreement was signed in 2012 and that during its four-year realization, the issue of registration of citizens, primarily Roma children, in the birth register had been completely resolved.

“Earlier, the focus was on the enrolment of Roma children, while now the focus shall be on mothers in order to resolve their legal status”, Ružić highlighted, adding that in the 21st century we must not allow a situation where our citizens have no personal documents.

“Having in mind the results of the previous Agreement on Understanding jointly implemented by the Protector of Citizens, the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government and UNHCR from 2012 to 2016, I believe that signing a new Agreement is the right way to resolve remaining matters relating to resolving status issues that most frequently affect the most sensitive, namely members of the Roma national minority. Data shows that there are still citizens and children who are invisible to the system, which is the reason why the Protector of Citizens continues to monitor the situation in the area of ​​registration and personal documents”, said the Protector of Citizens Zoran Pašalić.

Recognizing the problem of persons not possessing personal documents, the Republic of Serbia has been making intensive efforts since 2012 to eliminate the problems related to the lack of personal documents for particularly sensitive members of society. Through joint efforts of all relevant state institutions, the Republic of Serbia has introduced and implemented a number of legislative changes in order to facilitate the procedure of entry into birth registers and issuance of personal documents. According to estimates, the number of people at risk of statelessness has decreased from 30,000 in 2010 to about 2,000 in 2019.

Since 2004, through various free legal aid projects funded by the UN Refugee Agency, 5,549 persons have been registered. UNHCR also supported the issuance of 34,083 ID cards and 150,620 certificates from various registries.

While signing the Agreement that regulates further cooperation in this area today, Hans Friedrich Schoder, the Head of the Representation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Serbia, stated the following: “This year, as we mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Refugee Agency is pleased to continue our successful tripartite cooperation to ensure the registration of all children born in the Republic of Serbia, including those whose parents lack identity documents or do not have legal status. A vital step in the global campaign to eradicate statelessness is that all children be entered into citizens’ registries and records”.

The Republic of Serbia is a signatory to the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons of 1954, the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness of 1961 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Skip to content