In April 2008 a PROCAP SPO was deployed to UNHCR with the support by tyndale


									                                          End of Mission Report
                         Paul White PROCAP SPO with UNHCR in Nepal
                                          April - December 2008

Overview of Assignment
In April 2008, soon after the election of the new Constituent Assembly in Nepal, I was deployed to
UNHCR Representation in Nepal to work on statelessness. The UNHCR application for a PROCAP SPO
was supported by OHCHR, UNFPA, OCHA and UNICEF in Nepal. Statelessness in Nepal suits the
PROCAP objective of reinforcing the strategic and operational protection response for vulnerable groups in
protracted complex crises.

In 2007 a report entitled ''Statelessness in Nepal'' was prepared for UNHCR by an IRC SURGE deployee,
Eric Paulsen. The report is accurate and thorough and serves as the situational analysis. The report noted
that Nepali nationals who did not have a citizenship certificate were de facto stateless. UNHCR estimates
that about 800,000 citizens remained de facto stateless after a largely successful Government campaign
during which about 2.6 million citizenship certificates were distributed in 2007. Although no particular
group missed out totally during the campaign the population which did not receive citizenship certificates
during the Government‟s campaign comprised mostly of women, elderly, nomadic, indigenous and specific
disadvantaged groups such as Dalits and Madhesis, the latter of which have faced historical mistrust as an
“alien” population with closer ties to India than Nepal. Although many Madhesi and Dalits received
citizenship certificates during the campaign some remained without formal recognition as citizens of Nepal.

        UNHCR Strategy
In Nepal „statelessness‟ is seen as an area where UNHCR can make an important contribution to the
attainment of broad UN objectives, particularly by creating conditions for sustainable development and
advancing the cause of human rights and gender equality in Nepal. UNHCR‟s statelessness strategy was
underpinned by the realisation that UNHCR alone did not have the resources and the technical capacity to
deliver the sustained support needed to ensure lasting solutions to the citizenship issue in Nepal.

The UN Country Team (UNCT), leaning towards greater coherence within the UN in Nepal, also offered
important opportunities for better delivery of UNHCR‟s protection and solutions mandate for stateless
people through enhanced partnerships. As development and good governance issues are closely related to
the issuance of a citizenship certificate a coherent and systematic approach to statelessness in Nepal needed
to go beyond the UN and host governments and include the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank,
development agencies, donors and NGOs who all have a crucial role to play. The empowerment of women
remained a central focus of the work on statelessness.

UNHCR initiated projects on the understanding that the effectiveness of UNHCR‟s response to the
protection needs of stateless persons is best judged by its direct impact on the lives of the stateless persons.
The projects did not aim to take over the responsibilities of the authorities but were strategically identified

to show to authorities that gaps continue to exist in areas where the Government considers no gaps exist.
The strategy also included a commitment to the Global Humanitarian Platform Principles of Partnership.

         Major Constraints
Constraints that affected the pace of my work included:-
- The political realities of Nepal. One newspaper analyst stated in October 2007 that "The Constituent
Assembly (CA).….held its meeting just 10 times in the past 125 days. Ironically, it couldn't finalize its own
rules and regulations … Instead, the lawmakers were largely preoccupied in trading criticisms……..inter-
party feuding … relegated the crucial task of drafting a new constitution to the back burner." In addition,
due to changes in the political landscape, Ministerial appointments were slow in coming, most Chief
District Officers (CDOs), responsible for issuing citizenship certificates, were changed and many
Secretaries from Village District Committees (VDCs), responsible for issuing most of the supporting
documentation, were also transferred. At the end of my mission this political situation appears to have
improved, so the business of drafting the constitution and of government should pick up pace in the coming
months. Effective lobbying was not possible while the political situation was in a state of flux.

- The exigencies of the Office. Unless government abolish the citizenship certificate, which is unlikely in
the proposed new Federal State, UNHCR‟s involvement in statelessness needs to be long term. There are
many opportunities for action on this issue but not all opportunities can be taken up in the short term
without putting undue pressure on the Office in the long term. I was careful and restrained in developing
relationships, especially with NGOs, as I did not want to build expectations that could not be fulfilled.
Nonetheless, excellent networks have been established that can be used in the future.

- The Office workload. The Office has a quite massive workload with protection responsibilities in relation
to a complex urban refugee caseload (300), Tibetans (20,000) and Bhutanese (106,000 – reducing with
resettlement) refugees.   Because the response to statelessness generally does not require the urgency of
much other protection work, it is not the top priority within the Protection Unit.

- ………….

As a result of the constraints the ToR relating to organizing with Government a series of workshops at the
regional level was not practical or possible. And the amended ToR, which included publishing all efforts
made by the GoN, was not possible without access to the government report on the 2007 campaign. All
other ToRs were completed.

Issues identified for ongoing action & key achievements
(1)       Constitutional Reform
To address discrimination and other issues in the Interim Constitution 2007 and to try to ensure the new
constitution meets international standards on citizenship, UNHCR worked with CA members, UNDP
Constitutional Advisory Support Unit, NGOs and OHCHR. The objective of UNHCR was to try to ensure

the discriminatory clauses in the Constitution were removed and that other undesirable clauses were
repealed or amended. UNHCR aimed to generate some strategic impact through interventions to the sixty-
one Member Constitutional Committee, input into concept papers and support to NGOs whose
responsibilities included putting public views to the administrative committee established to collect such
views. As the constitutional committees are still not fully functioning, this task is not completed but
UNHCR has identified issues for both UNDP and OHCHR, who follow the procedure more closely, and
requested they should pay careful attention to citizenship.

Major problems with the Constitution include:-
Article 8 (5) provides for „any person born and living permanently in Nepal before the end of Chaitra, 2046
(mid April, 1990) shall acquire the citizenship of Nepal by birth in accordance with existing laws.‟ This
clause, related to the citizenship certificate distribution campaign of 2007 is linked to the Citizenship Act,
2006 which has a sunset clause (S 4.3) that expired on 26 November 2008. It is UNHCR‟s view that this
clause should remain, at least for several more years, as UNHCR is aware of many persons, particularly
amongst disadvantaged groups who still do not have citizenship certificates and will not meet the criteria to
obtain a citizenship certificate by descent.

Article 8 (6) which provides that „a woman of foreign nationality who is married to a Nepalese citizen may
acquire naturalized citizenship, if she desires to do so, pursuant to existing laws‟ is discriminatory on
gender grounds as men married to Nepalese citizens are not able to obtain citizenship through their wife.
UNHCR recommends that this be changed to „a person of foreign nationality who is married to a Nepalese
citizen may acquire naturalized citizenship, if he or she desires to do so, pursuant to existing laws.‟

Article 8 (7) which provides that „…a person born to a woman citizen of Nepal married to a foreigner, if
such a person is born in Nepal and has been residing permanently in Nepal and has not acquired citizenship
of the foreign country by virtue of the citizenship of his or her father he or she may acquire naturalized
citizenship of Nepal pursuant to the laws in force.‟ This is also discriminatory as it only applies to a child
born to a women citizen married to a foreigner so should be amended or repealed.

(2)      Legal Analysis & Legislative Reform
UNHCR worked with its partners to ensure some legislative change consistent with international law to the
Citizenship Act 2006 (the Act), and its associated Regulations and Directives which will flow from
Constitutional reform. The MHA has drafted some changes but UNHCR is not privy to the nature of the
proposed changes. Legal analysis* revealed that there are several discriminatory clauses in relation to
citizenship in the Act and its related Regulations and Directives as well as in the Interim Constitution 2007.

Major problems with the legislation include:-
- The Directives at Chapter 2 Section 4 (5) indicate that a Nepali woman married before acquiring the
citizenship certificate is required to submit the additional documents for including the citizenship certificate
of her husband or father-in-law, making married women totally dependent on their new family.

- Nepali women now possess the right to pass citizenship to children and foreign spouses; however, they
face additional requirements which are not imposed on men. Section 3(1) of the Act provides that a child
born to a Nepali father is automatically entitled to Nepali citizenship in any circumstances. Section 5(2)
stipulates that a child born to a Nepali mother (married to a foreign father) is only eligible for citizenship
upon the satisfaction of certain conditions, namely that the child has resided permanently in Nepal and has
not acquired foreign citizenship on the basis of the father‟s foreign nationality. Additionally, Nepali
women married to foreign men must petition for the right of the child to obtain citizenship.
- Section 5(2) restricts the acquisition of citizenship under jus sanguinis to children whose parents are
married; both international and domestic human rights law establish that the rights of the child should not
depend on the marital status of the parents.
- Section 5(1) is similarly discriminatory on the grounds of gender, granting Nepali men the right to pass on
citizenship to foreign spouses who renounce foreign citizenship, but qualifying that Nepali women may
only impart citizenship to foreign spouses who satisfy additional requirements, including, inter alia, the
ability to speak and write a Nepali language and who have continuous residence in Nepal for at least 15

The Act contains a limited jus soli element. However, because this was time-limited and operated only
until 26 November 2008 those citizens eligible under this provision but who did not or could not apply do
not currently have access to this provision. Pursuant to Section 4 of the Act those born in Nepal prior to
April 1990 and residing permanently and continuously in the country may be granted citizenship. This
Section cleared the way for issuance of citizenship certificates for many residents of the Terai or Madhes
region bordering India as well as indigenous and nomadic people who did not have supporting
documentation like land registration. The Government has refused to acknowledge that this provision
should also benefit refugees. The Government claimed that refugees have been „domiciled permanently‟
and not „residing‟ in Nepal even if they fulfilled the criteria required for citizenship.

Legal analysis, confirmed by field missions, revealed that Nepalese citizenship can be renounced prior to or
without taking up a new nationality.      UNHCR takes the view that renouncement should only take place
upon acquiring a new citizenship so is monitoring this unusual aspect of the citizenship legislation. Nepal
currently does not permit dual citizenship but there is an increasing trend in the numbers of persons holding
and countries allowing dual nationality. UNHCR position is that it is preferable if legislation allows for a
dual nationality option as it can ensure legal benefits for citizens by preventing statelessness and avoiding
the gaps and confusion in the citizenship process and may sometime assist spouses who have different
nationalities in selecting their joint place of residency.

(3)      Citizenship Issues Affecting Refugees from Bhutan in Nepal
A separate note* was prepared on issues that touch on citizenship and citizenship certificates for non
Bhutanese associated with the refugees from Bhutan. The note draws attention to complexities for refugees
married to non refugees, Nepali women losing their citizenship following voluntary renunciation, refugees

born in Nepal or India who were part of the refugee influx and children who may be without any legal

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is currently awaiting approval for a project, aimed at Capacity
Building for the Promotion of Legal Identity among the Poor in Nepal, which will include work in Jhapa
District. If all goes to plan, after May next year, this project will work to increase the access of particularly
poor and vulnerable groups, to services and opportunities, by providing them with legal documentation.
The Project activities include developing a functional computerized Vital Events Registration (VER)
system in 10 target districts and aims to have 90% of the population in target districts receive a birth
certificate. ADB hope to help set up an integrated IT system for VER at VDC, Municipality, DDC, and
central level and train 15 master trainers and 500 local registrars. ADB are aware of the importance of the
citizenship certificate in Nepal. It is very much in the interest of UNHCR to continue to work with ADB to
ensure the project and government actions are “refugee friendly” and include citizenship certificates for
those eligible.

(4)         Citizenship Issues Affecting Refugees from Tibet in Nepal
“Tibet's Stateless Nationals: Tibetan Refugees in Nepal” (Tibetan Justice Centre June 2002) documents
issues related to statelessness of Tibetans in Nepal. The situation described does not appear to have
changed significantly since the release of this publication. Various recommendations to the Office of the
UNHCR in Nepal in relation to statelessness are still pertinent today. UNHCR is aware that some Tibetans
have citizenship certificates but the circumstances under which they acquired them are not clear.

In practice the Government has rejected the notion that any Tibetan refugees living in Nepal is eligible for
naturalization on the grounds that they have not actually “resided” in Nepal for the requisite period, but that
they have rather been “domiciled” in the country.             UNHCR advocates for the non-discriminatory
application of the right to naturalization for all eligible persons of concern.      If there is „movement‟ in
relation to Tibetans living in Nepal in the changing local and international political environment the issue
of statelessness and citizenship certificates will need to be part of the assessment and situational analysis in
relation to the Tibetans to ensure the prevention of statelessness.

(5)         Counting those without citizenship certificates
Current estimates of those without citizenship certificates range from 100,000 (GoN Citizenship Cell) to 4–
5 million (ADB Senior Legal Counsel). Although the ADB project referred to above and the Finnish
Embassy funded projects will try to make some assessments of the numbers without citizenship certificates
in project areas the only way to ensure a relatively accurate count of the number of citizens without a
citizenship certificate is to use the Census process. Aware of UNFPA experience with Census and its lead
role within the UN on this issue UNHCR drafted a position paper* to discuss with UNFPA and its
consultant on this issue. UNHCR also met with government, donors, UN agencies and technical experts on
Census 2011 (marking 100 years of census in Nepal) with a view to ensuring the numbers of citizens
without citizenship certificates are counted in June 2011.

At the end of my Mission whether or not a question on citizenship certificates would be included in Census
2011 is still not a fait accompli but it is well within reach. At a donors meeting, organised by UNFPA,
UNHCR was supported in our efforts by the UN HC, the Finnish Embassy and UNIFEM. The Finnish
Embassy in Nepal has proposed to Helsinki that the Government of Finland fund part of Census 2011
through the multi-lateral fund. A decision from Helsinki is expected in early 2009. UNHCR is now in a
position to keep this on the agenda and an intervention at HQ level to the Finnish government encouraging
it to fund this question may be prudent.

(6)      Linking birth registration and citizenship certificates & using child protection networks
UNHCR field work revealed that UNICEF has well established and often competently functioning
networks, often relating to child protection. UNHCR drafted a paper* that led to discussion with UNICEF
on Vital Events Registration. The paper identified areas of mutual concern and potential areas of mutual
cooperation. Finding ways to including the citizenship certificate as part of the Vital Events Registration is
an important long term goal in UNHCR‟s work with UNICEF.                UNHCR needs to use the existing
networks which include paralegal committees, Child Clubs and Child Protection Committees run by
UNICEF or its implementing partners like Save the Children, to advance its agenda on citizenship.

UNHCR made it a point to contact UNICEF during missions in the field and encouraged UNICEF to work
with 16 year old girls on citizenship certificate issues as many, who did not obtain their citizenship
certificate before marriage, found it impossible to do so after marriage because of the current
discriminatory legislation.   And UNHCR encouraged UNICEF and partners to use their networks for
citizenship certificates as well as birth registration.   During the last mission to Chitwan promising
developments occurred that are discussed in the Mission* Report.

(7)      UN Country Team
UNHCR presented a background and position paper* for the UNCT. The purpose of the paper was to
introduce the UNCT to UNHCRs mandate in relation to statelessness and its analysis of the situation in
Nepal. The meeting in August 2008 was a useful introduction to statelessness and had some positive
results including interventions by the UNHC at meetings later in the year. Another intervention was made
at a meeting of the UNCT with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People. Although these
interventions in themselves were not earth-shattering they did manage to get citizenship certificate and
statelessness onto the agenda of the UNCT. UNHCR needs to remains vigilant for such opportunities as
even relatively minor interventions may strike a note with various UN partners. Often other UN agencies
will be better placed to make interventions than UNHCR in relation to citizenship certificates and such
interventions should be encouraged.

(8)      Protection Cluster and OHCHR
In accordance with policy directives of the UNCT it was decided that, rather than to have a separate
„Statelessness Working Group‟ it was better to make statelessness/citizenship certificates a regular item on

the agenda of the Protection Working Group (that became a Protection Cluster (PC) in late 2008). This
forum, led by OHCHR, brings together key UN protection agencies, I/NGOs and on some occasions
government so it provides the potential to provoke debate and action in relation to statelessness as a human
rights and protection issue. A ten point proposal for action* was put to the last meeting of the PC in
December 2008 that set out ways PC members may wish to take up the citizenship certificate issue. The
future of the PC in Nepal and the extent to which the PC can assist resolve issues related to statelessness
are not clear due to unresolved issues relating to nature of the mandate of OHCHR should it be extended.
The very helpful support of OHCHR in the field can continue to be built upon.

(9)      UN Radio
The recently established UN Radio could have a wide audience in a variety of Nepalese languages and is a
useful resource for UNHCR to use for awareness-raising on the value of a citizenship certificates and
related procedural matters. Field visits and projects have indicated that government has a limited capacity
to deliver its services including those necessary for issuing citizenship certificates so it is important not to
create a „rush‟ on offices of the CDO. This resource can be used to create awareness about the importance
of a citizenship certificates, the procedures involved, how NGOs may incorporate citizenship certificates
issues into projects and may be used in conjunction with UNICEF to include awareness about birth
registration.   The awareness raising information is readily available from existing sources like the NRC
Factsheet or various other drafts prepared by UNCHR.         A simple question and answer format about the
citizenship certificates and value of having a legal identity generally could be a useful start.

(10)     Projects
During field visits to both Nepalgunj and Chitwan UNHCR discovered gaps in the Government's 2007
citizenship certificate distribution campaign. To support anecdotal evidence acquired from various sources
UNHCR funded two projects; with Fatima Foundation focussed on Muslim women and with Nepal
Chepang Association (NCA) focussed on indigenous people. Each project resulted in applications for
about 500 citizenship certificates to persons who would otherwise not have been able to obtain the
citizenship certificates without assistance/guidance of the NGOs.           The projects increased awareness
amongst disadvantaged groups and NGOs on the importance of citizenship certificates and the application
process. Mission reports and other documentation is available* in relation to the projects.

Each NGO was closely connected to a CA member. This proved advantageous in dealing with the
government officials and made cooperation with government easier. Each NGO was well established with
strong links in the targeted communities and had a pool of volunteers/activists upon which it could call to
do awareness raising and to provide the necessary assistance to those unfamiliar with the citizenship
certificate process.   Each NGO was well established and appeared to be functioning well and respected in
its particular community.      There was no established mechanism through which to coordinate citizenship
certificates projects in the field.

Each project also faced some problems. In the case of the Fatima Foundation working in Nepalgunj many
cases needed to rely on the „citizenship by birth‟ provision. A newly appointed Assistant CDO was
obstructive and left many applications „pending‟ claiming he needed instructions from Kathmandu. Even
though the sunset clause in the Act expired 26 November 2008 the official claimed some applications made
before this time were not valid. UNHCR raised the matter with the Citizenship Cell and initiated contact
between the Citizenship Cell and Fatima Foundation in Kathmandu. UNHCR also arranged for OHCHR in
Nepalgunj to assist the Fatima Foundation approach the National Human Rights Commission and the CDO.
UNHCR was only alerted to this problem a few days before my departure so this matter was not resolved at
the completion of my mission but left with OHCHR in Nepalgunj to follow up.

In the case of the NCA the CDO in Chitwan restricted the Nepal Chepang Association to 25 applications
per day because of staff shortages in his office. Even with this agreement UNHCR observed whilst on
mission that in fact the government had difficulty dealing with even this number due to its lack of capacity.
Nonetheless the CDO was cooperative and supportive of the project although it was clear the whole process
was time and resource consuming for the NCA as well as government.

UNHCR also monitored, encouraged and in some cases coordinated other citizenship certificate projects
including those supported the by the Finnish Embassy, through the NGO Jaghrit as their implementing
partner and those initiated by LWF, Action Aid, Plan Nepal, the ADB and others.                UNHCR also
encouraged UNCDF, UNDP, World Bank and others to incorporate citizenship certificate distribution into
their projects with Local Government.

(11)     Networking
UNHCR‟s inputs were used a resource on statelessness by several organisations including by the EU in the
production of a Legal Aid Manual for young lawyers; UNICEF for an Emergency Training Manual;
UNFPA/USAID/NDA for training of women Constituent Assembly members; Save the Children for
awareness raising of Child Protection Committees in Nepalgunj, Tribhuvan University Law School and by
Norweigian Refugee Council for advice on a Civil Documentation Factsheet on citizenship certificates.
Each of these opportunities arose out of networking and in most cases resulted from a suggestion from
UNCHR rather than an approach from the particular party.             It is likely there are many of these
opportunities to be had but they are dependent upon the strength of UNHCR networking and a good
understanding of the role and responsibility of UNHCR in this area amongst potential partners.

(12)     Actor Mapping - a necessary tool
UNHCR completed an exercise in Actor Mapping* which included UN, I/NGO, government and statutory
authorities involved in this issue.

(13)     Citizenship certificates and trafficked women
UNHCR met with the Inter-Agency Coordinating Group (IACG) on Trafficking co-chaired by IOM to raise
the issue of citizenship certificates and trafficked women. IACG members and others indicated that 75%

of the recorded survivors (about 500 women) do not have citizenship certificates because most were
trafficked as minors before they received a citizenship certificate. Many returned to Nepal as adults and
are now estranged from their families who may have sold them in the first place. It is virtually impossible
for these survivors to obtain a citizenship certificate under current legislation which requires support and
documentation from their family (e.g. father‟s citizenship certificate or land registration). The National
Plan of Action for survivors of trafficking does not mention citizenship certificates for trafficked survivors.
UNHCR raised this with NGOs and government counterparts. A stronger focus on this issue may be
appropriate as work with survivors of trafficking is in keeping with the UNHCR strategy to empower
women and a project in this area will help analyse problems in the legislation which is not friendly to those
without close family ties.

(14)     Citizenship certificates and indigenous people & ILO Resolution 169 Article 4
Nepal is the first country in Asia to ratify ILO Resolution 169. Article 4 indicates that-: “1. Special
measures shall be adopted as appropriate for safeguarding the ... institutions, ...and environment of the
peoples concerned.” UNHCR agreed to work with ILO (through UNDP and OHCHR) on changes to the
citizenship legislation that will ensure indigenous will not be stateless. ILO raised the issue of some
indigenous groups who still have traditional tribal structures in place. ILO suggested that UNHCR might
want to discuss citizenship with these indigenous leaders to ascertain their views and ways of ensuring
recognition for their traditional tribal structures in the citizenship process.     As land issues are very
contentious ILO suggested that UNHCR could consider working on citizenship with indigenous
communities as a vital first step in their claims to access or own land.

ILO has received US$1.2 million from Danish and Norwegian governments for project work that is starting
in December 2008. Although there is no specific focus on citizenship certificates in the project, the issue
will be included to the extent that local Indigenous Peoples Organisations feel that it necessary.

(15)     Documenting history of the NGO work on citizenship certificate
Although in my amended ToR I was requested to "compile in a publication, all efforts made by the GoN,
UNHCR and other agencies in the citizenship campaign" I was unable to do this without the cooperation of
the government. The government wrote a report on the 2007 distribution campaign but despite promises to
do so did not share it with UNHCR. I wrote an article, written with disclaimer and in a personal capacity,
for FMR January Edition on statelessness. The focus of the article was on the role of the NGOs in
preventing and reducing statelessness.

(16)     Potential project areas
There are many potential project areas for UNHCR initiated and supported projects.          US$5000-7000 is
sufficient for a project that has direct impact on the lives of the stateless persons but also shows that gaps
continue to exist in areas where Government considers no gaps exist.

-   Elderly persons Last month in the budget speech, the Minister of Finance announced an increase in
    Social Security payments to elderly and others including physically handicapped and endangered
    ethnicities. Reports and observation from the field reveal that GoN officials have indicated that they
    will only pay the pension to people with a Citizenship Certificate. Not all elderly have a citizenship
    certificate, as the scheme was introduced gradually in 1964 and the citizenship certificate had little
    significance for many until relatively recently. Those without a citizenship certificate will miss out on
    their entitlement.    UNHCR made contact with a Senior Citizens National Network run by senior
    citizens themselves. NEPAN is involved in many programs that benefit the elderly but has not worked
    directly on Citizenship Certificate issues. UNHCR could consider supporting NEPAN and the Senior
    Citizens National Network to assess the extent of the problem. No national data exists, but it is
    estimated that at least 20-25% of the elderly population still do not have a citizenship certificate and
    hence are not receiving or eligible for the old age pensions.

-   Dalits and other Madeshis in Nepalgunj Committ Nepal has submitted a project proposal for work
    on citizenship certificate with Dalit communities in Nepalgunj. The border areas are the most complex
    and contentious as shown by the Fatima Foundation project. UNHCR will benefit by remaining
    involved in border areas as not only are the needs great but it helps deepen our analysis of the working
    of the process. In any project in the border area an emphasis on women should prevail.

-   Trafficked women Maiti Nepal have submitted concept paper on working with rescued trafficked
    women and orphaned children. Trafficked women and orphaned children are two groups who have
    substantial difficult because the citizenship procedures require family links. A project in this area will
    assist in an analysis of the problems of groups who do not fit neatly into the current legislation.

-   Continuation of Fatima Foundation project may be useful to ensure that those that applied for
    citizenship by birth but have applications „pending‟ are not lost. There are other VDCs in Banke and
    Dang with substantial populations of Muslim women where Fatima Foundation volunteers have
    identified many without citizenship certificates. Project in this area are complex because of border
    issues, discriminatory legislation, patriarchal practices, obstructive bureaucrats and overall lack of
    concern for women so are deserving and a means of contributing at many levels.

-   Continuation of Nepal Chepang Association project has advantages because it is supported and
    encouraged by the government and can be seen as an area of cooperation with Government. The needs
    are still great with the NCA claiming as many as 40,000 Chepang or Dalits living in adjoining areas
    are still without citizenship certificates.

-   In Jhapa a focus on citizenship issues and working closely with the ADB project and local authorites
    could promote the UNHCR longer term objectives in that area. A project with a NGO with the
    capacity to work closely with ADB will assist UNHCR focus on this issue and identify ongoing

Final Conclusions and Key Recommendations
   A. UNHCR Strategy
   The UNHCR strategy described above appears sound and should remain, unless or until overtaken by
   events or resources for work on statelessness in Nepal increase causing an adjustment. The emphasis
   should remain on being the catalyst, providing coordination and technical advice and getting others to
   do much of the work with support and encouragement from UNHCR.
(UNHCR Protection)
   B. Office Structure
   The UNHCR protection team initially needs to ensure the issue does not get lost. Taking into account
   the exigencies of the office I recommend that as soon as practical:-
            a.   One JPO should work on statelessness for one day a week or one week a month in such a
                 way that the statelessness work is totally insulated and all other responsibilities are set
                 aside for this period. Unless the JPO is insulated from all other work there is every
                 chance the time allocated for statelessness will be absorbed by other work and little time
                 or energy will be available for statelessness.      The JPO will need the support of a
                 Protection Assistant, who should be given manageable practical objectives.
            b.   Initially the issues related to Census 2011 can be separately allocated to the Protection
                 Assistant experienced in this field.   The experience of my Protection Assistant is such
                 that she can take initiatives and follow up this issue with minimal supervision. Although
                 projects are finalised for programme purposes it is necessary for the PA to follow up any
                 substantial issues to establish what assistance is needed and to act as a catalyst where
                 appropriate to ensure difficulties identified are followed up by others.
   In the longer term various options for dealing with statelessness are possible including:-
            c.   A national staff member employed full time on this issue with clear long term objectives
                 and a budget to support projects and other activities.
            d.   Arranging for a NGO to work under supervision on this issue for UNHCR in Nepal. A
                 NGO with sufficient expertise to take on this task has not yet been identified. Most
                 NGOs have expertise in specific areas of interest rather than the more general experience
                 necessary but a growing number of NGOs with interest and capacity to follow this issue
                 are at an embryonic stage. If the UNHCR strategy involves using an implementing
                 partner to follow this issue another deployee from the IRC Surge roster could be
                 considered to identify and work closely with a NGO to build its expertise.
   C. Census 2011
   Census 2011 will provide a unique opportunity to count those without citizenship certificates and after
   cross referencing and analysis then identify gaps and work to solve problems. The work on this issue
   is developed to such a level that it can be isolated and dealt with by a national staff with minimal
   supervision. Indeed it is now more appropriate that the issue be followed through by national staff.
   Regular follow up with Finnish Embassy locally and some encouragement to the Finnish

   representation in Geneva may also be valuable as a Finnish Embassy official in Kathmandu has
   indicated funds may be available. Unless the question is funded it is unlikely the government will
   agree to incorporate it into the Census.
(UNHCR Nepal and HQ)
   D. UN Radio
   The UN Radio be approached with a view to ensuring programmes on the value of a citizenship
   certificates and related procedural matters are dealt with on a regular basis, in Q&A or other suitable
   format. Government should be advised of this initiative and encouraged to participate.
   E. The Constitutional Advisory Support Unit
   The Constitutional Advisory Support Unit (CASU) of UNDP and UNCT should continue to be
   engaged on issues of concern to UNHCR aimed at reducing or preventing statelessness but
   expectations of direct impact from the UN should not be overrated as there appears to be little
   government interest in UN offers of assistance.
   F. Legal Analysis & Legislative Reform
   Legal analysis and legislative reform is certain after the new Constitution comes into effect.       The
   Citizenship 2006 Act, and its Regulations and Directives will need to be amended to reflect the
   changes to Article 8 of the Interim Constitution. UNHCR will need to remain alert to possibilities to
   ensure new legislation prevents statelessness but expectations of direct impact from the UN should not
   be overrated as there appears to be little government interest in UN offers of assistance. A continued
   close working relationship with Forum for Women‟s Law and Development and UNIFEM regarding
   the gender aspects on citizenship laws will enhance prospects of success as both have well established
   national staff involved in this issue.
   G. Networking & Actor Map
   Opportunities for action in the area of statelessness are dependent to a certain extent upon the strength
   of UNHCR networking and a clear understanding amongst potential partners of the role and
   responsibility of UNHCR in this area. To the extent possible UNHCR needs to remain alert to
   networking opportunities and continue to develop and update the actor map.
   H. UNCT, Protection Cluster and OHCHR
   There are a plethora of issues, especially those relating to local government, development, women,
   caste and indigenous people that can incorporate a citizenship certificate angle. UNHCR needs to be
   alert to such opportunities and encourage UNCT to make sure the legal identity of citizens is dealt with
   as part of projects supported through the UNCT members. The Protection Cluster meeting, led by
   OHCHR is the best place to deal with statelessness issues on a regular basis as the Cluster is now
   aware of the importance of citizenship certificates in the lives of citizens.
   I.   Linking birth registration and citizenship certificates

   Linking awareness raising for birth registration and citizenship certificates through UNICEF networks
   should be ongoing and worked on in the field as well as in Kathmandu whenever the opportunity
   arises. SC and other partners involved in birth registration have also been interested and supportive in
   citizenship certificates issues and should be encouraged to use the CP networks to promote
   applications for citizenship certificates.
   J.   Field visits and projects
   Field visits and projects help the Office focus on statelessness. UNHCR should aim to support at least
   two or three small projects on statelessness each year. The strategic objectives of projects are to keep
   the government honest, to keep the issue alive for the UN and NGOs and to ensure UNHCR maintains
   expertise and capacity to provide technical advice and an effective response to the protection needs of
   the stateless by impacting upon lives of statelessness people. UNHCR needs to be watchful for the
   socially excluded groups who are most likely to have difficulty obtaining citizenship certificates.
   Two matters that can significantly increase the profile of the statelessness are:-
   K. Employing a PO in a Regional Role
   The Government in Nepal is reluctant to take decisions on some issues relating to statelessness (and
   other things) outside a regional context so a deeper analysis at this level could help ensure positive
   developments in Nepal. It may be appropriate to employ or deploy a SPO or PO to a regional role in
   those countries where some progress on statelessness appears possible. The SPO or PO could examine
   issues, establish projects, supervise developments and intervene with government or regional bodies to
   prevent or reduce statelessness.
(UNHCR Representative/HQ)
   L. A Colloquium
   A Colloquium with a focus on Legal Identity in Nepal is a more ambitious project for an opportune
   time. An event of this nature would take advantage of the high level of interest in this issue within the
   UN, be a necessary stimulus to develop awareness about the need for a linkage between the citizenship
   certificate and other vital events registration and highlight the importance of legal identity generally.
   This would need to also involve UNHCR at HQ and regional levels, UNCT and Government with
   support of UNFPA, UNICEF and UNDP. The UN Poverty Commission report Making the Law Work
   for Everyone, which examines the issue of legal empowerment of the poor, or a local adaptation could
   provide the stimulus for discussion.

Paul White, SPO PROCAP Tuesday, 30 December 2008


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