No legal identity for a billion people globally, says UN body

International Organization for Migration holds meet for promoting dialogue between countries of origin and destination

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 02 November 2023
Photo: iStock__

About a billion people globally don’t have a legal identity, according to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM). A Legal Identity and Rights-Based Return Management Conference was organised by IOM at the UN City in Copenhagen, Denmark on October 30-31, 2023 to promote dialogue between countries of origin and destination for such people without legal identities. 

The billion people who lack legal identities are invisible to states, limiting their access to services and restricting their mobility, forcing them to travel longer, more dangerous and irregular routes, the IOM said in a press release.

Read more: ‘Earth’s empty quarter’: Many Pacific nations now have falling populations

Government officials from both the country of origin and the country of destination got together to encourage legal identity exchanges across regions. This is seen as a key way to make migration safer and more regular, including better readmission rates and socioeconomic growth through international cooperation and border governance partnerships.

Today, a billion people lack legal identification, making it difficult for them to access social services, pay taxes, vote, or open a bank account, and driving irregular migration, Jens Godtfredsen, Ambassador for Migration, Return and Readmission at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark said in a statement. 

Godtfredsen said:

That’s why it’s critical to come together to discuss concrete solutions to migration challenges, such as the global identity gap, by adopting a whole of government approach.

Governments have recognised that readmission processes for migrants are frequently hampered by obstacles. These hurdles can be eliminated or reduced by strengthening a state’s legal identity capacity, consular support, and collaboration among relevant government agencies.

Read more: Short-distance migrations help communities manage climate shocks: Study

The conference also emphasised the importance of cross-regional exchanges on best practises in order to learn from one another in order to refine national policies, strengthen coordination mechanisms, and reduce migrants’ vulnerabilities through a rights-based approach

Representatives from Somalia, Lebanon, Iraq, Cabo Verde, El Salvador, and Mozambique agreed on the importance of regional and international cooperation between countries of origin and countries of destination. This can help promote the digitisation of their legal identity systems and national archives, as well as to facilitate a rights-based approach to return management. 

The initiative was organised within the framework of IOM’s Global Programme Enhancing Readmission and Legal Identity Capacities (RELICA), launched in 2022. 

Read more: 

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :
Related Stories

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.