UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s move to give nationality to thousands of children born to Iranian mothers and non-Iranian fathers.
The first children, out of some 10,000 children whose citizenship applications have so far been accepted, received their long-awaited Iranian identity document – known as a ‘Shenasnameh’, last month.
According to the Government of Iran, nearly 75,000 children at risk of becoming statelessness are eligible for Iranian citizenship under a new nationality law, which was amended in 2019 to allow children under 18 years to apply for the identity documents.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran, UNHCR has continued providing free remote legal advice and assistance to parents of children whose mothers are Iranian nationals and whose fathers are foreign nationals, to help them through the nationality application process.
By allowing Iranian mothers to pass their nationality to their children, the law also marks a ground-breaking step towards reducing the gender gap in Iran, where nationality used to be passed on mainly by fathers.
Although Iran is not party to the UN Conventions on Statelessness, the Government of Iran is taking steps towards the prevention and reduction of statelessness in the country. While the law does not give mothers and fathers equal rights to confer nationality to their children, it represents significant progress.
Around the world, stateless people can face a lifetime of exclusion and discrimination and are often denied access to education, health care, and job opportunities – making them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.