The UN refugee agency welcomes the recent decision by the Suriname National Assembly to amend its 1975 Law on Nationality and Residence, which will allow mothers to pass on nationality to their children.
The changes also give women the same right as men to confer their nationality to their spouses and introduce important safeguards to prevent statelessness due to loss of nationality. These reforms bring Suriname's nationality law into compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Suriname is not yet a party to the UN Statelessness Conventions.
A gap in the previous nationality law meant that children born within marriage but outside Suriname were unable to acquire its nationality from their mothers. Children born abroad to Surinamese mothers, who could not acquire nationality from their foreign fathers, would therefore be left stateless.
Suriname joins Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, Monaco, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia, Yemen, Zimbabwe to become the 12th country in the past 10 years to have enacted reforms to ensure gender parity in its nationality laws.
A number of these States, along with UNHCR and UN Women, are actively supporting the recently launched International Campaign to End Gender Discrimination in Nationality Laws, which aims to achieve equal nationality rights. Laws in 27 countries still prevent mothers from conferring their nationality to their children on an equal basis as fathers and in over 60 countries which do not give women equal rights with men to acquire, change and retain their nationality. Removing gender discrimination from nationality laws is a key action under UNHCR's Campaign to End Statelessness, to be launched in September 2014. UNHCR also encourages Suriname to accede to the UN Statelessness Conventions as part of this Campaign.
To access a copy of the Surinamese amendments (in Dutch) please see: http://www.dna.sr/wetgeving/ontwerpwetten-bij-dna/in-behandeling/ontwerp-wet-op-de-nationaliteit-en-het-ingezetenschap/
For more information on the International Campaign to End Gender Discrimination in Nationality Laws please see: http://equalnationalityrights.org/
For more information on the issue of gender discrimination in nationality laws please see: http://www.refworld.org/docid/532075964.html