22.12.11 11:53 Age: 74 days

WCC consultation calls churches to advocate for the rights of stateless people


Participants of the WCC consultation on human rights of stateless people in Bangladesh

A consultation organized by the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) of the World Council of Churches (WCC) called for the church to become involved in wider advocacy initiatives to protect rights of the stateless people.


According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 12 million people are stateless around the world, and not considered a national by any government.


This consultation focused on “human rights of stateless people” in Asia, and was held from 16-18 December in Dhaka, Bangladesh, attended by thirty participants.


Dhaka was a significant venue for the event, as Bangladesh is a country with a large number of stateless people, including the Rohingyas, ethnic minorities from Myanmar and the Urdu speaking Biharis from Pakistan.


Therefore, a communiqué issued by the participants said that the “Bible itself bears witness to the stateless condition of the Hebrew people, and God’s involvement to provide them with a homeland, and therefore statehood.”  “Biblical and theological bases motivate us to express our Christian commitment and engagement of our prophetic witness, to speak for the rights of the voiceless, and the marginalized stateless people, who live in our midst,” stated the communiqué.


The consultation also stressed the need for churches to be sensitized about the problems of stateless people, and their role in advocacy on the basis of theological perspectives.


The participants recommended that churches should be encouraged to enter into alliances with like minded civil society organizations, working for the rights of the stateless people, especially trying to lobby with the governments to ratify the 1954 and 1961 United Nations Conventions on Statelessness.


“The consultation was organized as part of the CCIA’s advocacy on stateless people as it was mandated by the working group on stateless people, which met in Kingston, Jamaica in May this year,” explained Dr Mathews George Chunakara, director of the CCIA.


“The report and recommendations of the consultation will be presented at the next meeting of the CCIA, which will be held China in June 2012,” he added.


The participants also visited camps and special zones, where stateless people are forced to live due to government imposed restrictions.


Read full communiqué from the WCC consultation on “rights of the stateless people” in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs


WCC programme on human rights