The Role Of Law Clinics in the Fight Against Statelessness by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (Unhcr) in Nigeria
Statelessness has become a global phenomenon. Statelessness simply means that a person does not belong to any country in the world. It means that a person does not have a nationality or any means to prove his or her nationality. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has embarked on a fight against Statelessness. The UNHCR have estimated that 10 million people in the world are stateless, one million of which are located in West Africa, although no figure has been estimated yet in Nigeria. However, because of numerous factors, the UNHCR has brought the fight against statelessness to Nigeria. They have mapped out their strategies in a National Action Plan (NAP) in 2018, and among such strategies are awareness and sensitization. They are of the belief that Nigerians are not aware of the concept of Statelessness. To test their assertion, empirical research was conducted for this paper via a questionnaire. One of the major consequences of statelessness is that stateless persons are deprived from enjoying their basic fundamental human rights like the right to freedom of movement, civil and political rights and the right to access of certain services which include access to health care and access to justice. More so, the Universal declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has a right to a nationality, which means the very notion of being stateless runs contrary to this universal basic right. This paper submits that derivation of fundamental rights especially access to justice is a social justice issue that could be handled through public interest lawyering. These two- Social Justice and Public Interest Lawyering- form part of the Clinical Legal Education (CLE) curriculum, therefore a nexus is immediately formed between CLE and the fight against statelessness. From the results of the research conducted in this paper, it is recommended that the service component of CLE, which is the Law Clinics, can assist the UNHCR in the fight against statelessness in Nigeria by actualising some of their strategies contained in the NAP which include but not limited to; sensitization and awareness. The UNHCR also raised a red flag on lack of data on this issue; again, this paper recommends that law clinicians can be their foot soldiers and aid in gathering the necessary data through client interviews and outreach activities. Lastly, the benefits of this partnership between the law clinics and UNHCR to the law clinicians was also outlined, as it will be of extreme benefit to them and it would lead to the achievement of the ultimate outcome and objective of CLE .
Keywords: Statelessness, Nationality, Identity, Access to Justice, Human Rights, Law Clinics, Social Justice, Public Interest.
Copyright (c) 2021 Maryam Idris Abdulkadir
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