Pacific states urged to sign up to UN conventions on citizenship

Pacific countries are being urged to sign long-standing United Nations conventions to ensure their citizens do not end up stateless.

Australian academics have published a report called The Future of Nationality in the Pacific.

They want want to ensure people who are forced to move because of climate change are not deprived of their citizenship.

Most research on statelessness and climate change in the Pacific has focused on whether, if a country were submerged, would statehood survive.

However, most people are likely to have left the country long before that kind of territory loss occurs.

Professor Jane McAdam from the Kaldor Centre for Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales, said signing the 1954 UN Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Covention on the Reduction of Statelessness would be a good start.

Only a handful of Pacific states have made these commitments.

McAdam said, once signed, nations would then need to implement the provisions in their domestic laws.

"Ultimately it is down to individual Pacific countries as to what they choose to do, but our sense is by highlighting where the current risks are, that arms Pacific governments with the tools - the information and then the tools, to start to address some of these concerns."