North Macedonia takes a positive step towards ending statelessness through amendments to its law on birth registration

1 Sep 2023 / North Macedonia / Prevention and reduction

In an important step towards preventing statelessness in the country, North Macedonia's Parliament has adopted crucial amendments to the Law on Civil Registry, contributing to global efforts to eliminate statelessness. Among the most significant changes was the introduction of Article 4-a, which mandates the immediate registration of every child born within North Macedonian territory, irrespective of the nationality or status of the child’s parents. This achievement was made possible through the dedicated collaboration and support of various international and national stakeholders.

The amendments to the Law on Civil Registry lay the foundation for addressing existing cases of statelessness while also implementing preventive measures to curb its recurrence. These changes provide a robust framework to ensure that every individual in North Macedonia obtains legal identity, providing an example of good practice for the prevention of statelessness in Europe.

The adoption of these amendments come after several challenges. In February 2023, the Commission for Political System and Inter-ethnic Relations of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia conducted an important supervisory hearing, during which, government ministries, including the Minister of Interior, Minister of Labour and Social Policy, and Deputy Minister of Justice, presented testimony outlining the difficulties faced by individuals at risk of statelessness. The hearing, attended by representatives from government, academia, and civil society, proved to be a crucial forum to understand the prevailing issues.

In response to these challenges, ENS member, the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association (MYLA) played a pivotal role. In April 2023, MYLA submitted amendments to the Ministry of Justice and the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia, crafted with UNHCR and OSCE support  and aimed at addressing critical gaps in the Law on Civil Registry. On 15 June 2023, the Parliament adopted the amendments to the Law on Civil Registry, marking an important step in the work towards the prevention of statelessness. The amendments are a welcome step forward towards resolving existing cases and preventing future instances of statelessness.

Following the legislative changes, MYLA and UNHCR have collaborated with the Civil Registry office to ensure the effective implementation of the amended law. Thanks to collaborative efforts, a policy document which records successful case resolutions was created under the ENS Roma Belong project.

North Macedonia's recent amendments to the Law on Civil Registry exemplify the power of collective action in addressing critical social issues. This achievement will not only ensure legal identity for all within the country but also sets a precedent for other countries in their pursuit of ending statelessness.

North Macedonia’s commitment to ending statelessness by the end of 2023 is a welcome show of leadership on this issue.

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