03/02/2022 – Preventing Statelessness among Foundlings/Children of Unknown Parents

Foundlings or children of unknown parents found in the territory can be among the most
vulnerable being left otherwise stateless. Article 2 of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of
Statelessness provides for the nationality grant to foundlings found in the territory, and many non-State parties also have equivalent nationality law provisions. However, many States in the Asia and the Pacific region do not have such “foundling provisions.” Even in States with such provisions, “non-typical” cases such as older children found in the territory, or children for whom incomplete information exists on the identity of their parent(s) may be left stateless, often with the “foundling provisions” narrowly interpreted to only mean “abandoned newborns.”
In her newly published book, drawing upon a comparative analysis of national legislation
covering 193 states, legal precedents (including in Japan) as well as international human rights law norms such as the best interests of the child, Mai Kaneko-Iwase proposes a “model foundling provision” and guidance for “full and inclusive application” of foundling provisions to help ensure no one is left behind. In this webinar, she will share highlights of her findings on the disputed issues such as the “maximum age” of the child when found in the territory to qualify as a “foundling,” the meaning of “unknown parents” and “found in the territory,” as well as the applicable burden of proof in her efforts to complement and back up the UNHCR Guidelines No.4 on Statelessness. Her recommendations may particularly be relevant in countries lacking systematic civil documentation or experiencing the effects of armed conflicts, migration, trafficking, and displacement. In addition, regional challenges and experiences in promoting the legislation of, or proactive application of, foundling provisions will be shared.

9:30 am CET – 9:35 Introductory remarks:
Mr. Matthias Reuss, Senior Statelessness Officer, UNHCR Regional Bureau for Asia
and the Pacific
9:35 – 9:55 Presentation: Dr. Mai Kaneko-Iwase,* Author of Nationality of Foundlings
Avoiding Statelessness Among Children of Unknown Parents Under International
Nationality Law – (Springer, October 2021)
* Also a UNHCR Japan staff member; this book was written in her capacity as a Researcher, Faculty of Law, Maastricht University, the Netherlands.
9:55 – 10:15
Regional experiences in relation to domestic nationality law for foundlings: The
Philippines and Malaysia

  • State Counsel Alden Reuben Luna, Refugees and Stateless Persons Protection
    Unit, Department of Justice, Republic of the Philippines
  • Ms. Illy Kamaludin, Assistant Protection Officer, UNHCR Malaysia

10:15 -10:25 Q&A
10:25 – 10:30 Closing Remarks: Mrs. Janis Ridsdel, Regional Protection Officer, UNHCR Regional
Bureau for Asia and the Pacific

To attend the event click here.