The Fund

A new Global Fund to combat Statelessness

The Global Statelessness Fund is a new and ambitious initiative, co-created by stateless people, civil society organisations and donors. Its purpose is to channel strategic and sustainable resourcing, accompaniment support and peer learning opportunities directly to stateless activists and impacted-person-led organizations where the need is greatest. The Fund aims to increase the agency, independence, capacity and leadership of impacted

person-led groups and activists to pursue the change they want to see and to deliver more effective strategies. It will also catalyse more sustainable funding to the statelessness field and help build the power of impacted person led groups. The goal is to raise at least $6 million for an initial three year pilot, of which $2 million has already been pledged if match contributions can be secured.

Why a global fund for statelessness?

Statelessness – being denied any nationality - is an extreme form of exclusion that locks people out of even the most basic rights and services. It’s a growing global problem, catalysed by increasing authoritarianism, racism, and the erosion of democracy. Conservative estimates place the global stateless population at 15 million and rising. Tens of millions also live with precarious and unequal nationality, on the brink of statelessness.

The deprivation of citizenship is a powerful tool of exclusion, built on differentiating between those who do and do not belong. People impacted by statelessness are among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in the world, often rendered invisible because of their statelessness.

Citizenship is the key gateway to the delivery and protection of rights. Its denial is the gateway to a stream of human rights violations. Yet statelessness receives very little attention in wider human rights debates and the statelessness field is woefully under-resourced, with impacted people and their organisations particularly left behind. Any serious effort to advance equality and protect the rights of the most marginalised must engage with the problem of statelessness.

Even without sustained philanthropic support, hundreds of groups led by people impacted by statelessness have emerged around the world to serve their communities and pursue change. They often operate in hostile environments, amidst serious threats to their security. Financial insecurity is a significant challenge, often due to an inability to register their organisations and comply with state regulations, but also because the individuals themselves can be both undocumented and criminalised.

Impacted-person-led groups should be at the centre of statelessness discourse and agenda setting. They best understand and represent the needs of their communities but historically have been denied a seat at the table or only provided tokenistic participation. This must change. Concerted action is needed to promote equal nationality rights, protect the rights of stateless people and address the root causes of statelessness, in a way that centres stateless people and deals with power imbalances in the field. To address this an emerging Global Statelessness Movement is taking shape, supported by stateless people, activists, and allies. However, the lack of sustainable, unrestricted funding to impacted-person-led organizations and activists is a significant barrier. Philanthropy needs to step up and play its part.

How will the Fund be piloted?

As the entire statelessness sector is significantly underfunded, the longer-term (15 – 20 year) objective is to build a sustainable and growing Fund to support all civil society actors working to end statelessness and ensure nationality rights for all. However, a necessary first step and foundation for this longer-term vision, is to provide sustained and unrestricted funding to frontline, impacted-person led organizations, who face the most significant challenges resourcing their work. By prioritising support for these groups during the pilot stage, the Fund will also contribute to wider efforts to challenge power imbalances within the statelessness field, enhance the agency of stateless people and facilitate their meaningful participation in regional and global initiatives.

Accordingly, the initial goal is to launch the Fund as a three-year pilot with a minimum commitment of $6 million (of which $2 million has been pledged as match funding for other contributions).

The pilot aims to:

  • Support 50 - 75 impacted-person-led groups and individual activists with flexible, multi-year funding. It is anticipated that most grants will go to organizations with annual budgets of less than $50,000.

  • Develop mechanisms for delivering funding to hard-to-reach organizations and people, including unregistered and informal groups and unaffiliated activists, a critical issue within the statelessness field.

  • Develop and trial a participatory grant-making model that centers impacted people in all decision making.

  • Implement an accompaniment program with technical support, networking and peer learning support.

  • Fundraise for and put in place the modalities for a long-term sustainably growing, participatory fund.

  • Capture & disseminate the learnings from the pilot phase to inform future practice.

Hosting: During the Pilot Phase, the Fund will be incubated by Fiscal Sponsor Open Collective Europe (OC Europe) and Knowledge Partner the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion (ISI). The Fiscal Sponsor will be responsible for grant administration, due diligence, compliance and reporting. Potential hosts in four countries were interviewed to identify a Fiscal Sponsor with strong mission alignment and demonstrated commitment to and experience with getting funds to activists in challenging contexts. OC Europe was selected as the strongest match, with the added benefit of being able to automatically offer fiscal sponsor services to grantees of the fund if needed (e.g. for unregistered groups or groups where receiving funds directly creates security risks). A test run is currently being undertaken with several initial grantees in challenging contexts to work through logistical issues, to prepare for the full launch of the fund. As Knowledge Partner and taking advantage of its experience, expertise and position in the field, ISI will be responsible for developing the accompaniment program.

Accompaniment program: The Accompaniment Programme will provide grantees with a range of technical support, peer learning and networking opportunities. The importance of accompaniment support alongside funding, was a key priority of respondents to a Field Needs Survey, and also reflects the experience of the recently concluded COVID-19 Emergency Statelessness Fund (CESF), which was coordinated by ISI. Given the Fund’s commitment to shifting the power to impacted people, the Accompaniment Programme will be largely shaped by the grantees themselves.

Who is behind the Fund? (To be published)

Visit and contribute to the Global Statelessness Fund here

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