There is a Part 1 to this piece.
Or read the whole Ending Statelessness or Ending Statehood?
As I read, I started chatting with ENS, and UNHCR too. So here is my one-way conversation with them, through their letter:
ENS: There is an urgent need for European States to act to prevent children from growing up without a nationality.
G: There is an urgent need for World States to act to prevent babies growing up into a nationality.
ENS: The majority of Europe’s stateless kids were born in Europe; many of them would not remain stateless today if all European countries had in place legal safeguards against childhood statelessness as required by international law.
G: It is outrageous and unacceptable that a person is not considered a person if s/he does not have a state to belong to. It is outrageous and unacceptable that one needs to have a nationality in order to get an education, health care, or to satisfy any other basic human need thereof. This is all the more so in our very globalized world. Yes, there are many nationalists and fascists, many xenophobes, but there are also many humanists who consider themselves as “only human” and see other people as “people” above any other label. International law should safeguard against discrimination by statehood, which unfortunately is the status quo in the world we live.
ENS: The shocking reality is that more than half the countries in Europe are failing to meet these obligations, thereby denying a nationality to thousands of children across the continent.
G: The shocking reality is that almost all the world seems to deny this reality i.e. That we are all humans. The powers that be, want to dictate and define us according to our nationalities and statehood, confine us by some arbitrary lines that were drawn by a bloody war or by bloody politics. This belief in states is so prevalent and so strong that almost nobody even questions it.
ENS: The European Network on Statelessness urges all European states to:
* Accede to the UN 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness;
* Address gaps in their laws and practice in order to implement comprehensive safeguards to identify and grant nationality to children born on their territory who would otherwise be stateless, as soon as possible after birth;
* Ensure access to free and universal birth registration in order to prevent statelessness.
G: I, Gülin De Vincentiis, urge all World states to:
* Drop all their conventions defining people by states, ie. Remove the senseless, the unacceptable, the ridiculous definition of “Stateless Persons” from your definitions, laws, rules etc. Remove “Statefull” Persons as well along with it.
* Address gaps in your laws and practice in order to implement a world where humans will be humans wherever they might have been born on this planet we live.
* Ensure access to free and universal education, health care to provide basic human needs in order to prevent the troubles you cause humans for being born in a “wrong” place to “wrong” people, the wrong being defined by your, sorry to say, “stupid” rules and regulations.
Why is This Important?
ENS: Most people take their nationality for granted; they do not think about how or why they got it, what it allows them to do or what would be different if they had none.
G: True. Yes, people do not think about why they've got a nationality. WHY? Why do we get a nationality? So that we can be bound and be punished by the laws of the state if we do any wrong? Or so that we know who needs to take care of us, educate us, provide for us in case of need? Seriously... Why do we really get a nationality? For me, there is no reasonable answer to that question. The fact is, we do not need a nationality in order to exist. So we should not be needing it in order to survive in this world. So states should at least remove their obligations on us people to belong to one of them. They should stop forcing us to belong to a state just in order to live a decent life.
ENS: Sadly, this is not the case for thousands of children in Europe who are growing up without nationality. For those affected this can mean missing out on healthcare, education and other opportunities, as well as result in unfulfilled potential and a sense of never quite belonging. It brings hardship and anguish to children and their parents alike.
G: Sure. The way the current society, states and countries are set up, statelessness affects people in a very negative, adverse way. As statehood is fiction, a state/a status they define us into, it should be removed from the international vocabulary. We all naturally belong to a family, a group, or humanity. We do not need any more identification dividing us into boxes.
They didn't let my daughter go into the playground at IKEA without an ID card. What did they do when I showed them? They just leaned over pretending to look. They didn't take a note of the name, the birth date or the photo. It's just the gesture itself that satisfies them. It's obvious my daughter falls within the age group allowed. Her name is the name I tell IKEA, it's the name my daughter responds to when called out. I could have picked her up easily, they would not have confused her either. It is the most stupid and ridiculous thing to ask for ID's in every place you go. You buy a fridge, they ask for your ID number; you buy a chewing-gum, they'll soon be asking to see your dental certificate... approved by a certified MD! Yes, all this paperwork brings unnecessary hardship and anguish to children, their parents, to humans in general. Even though I have all the proper papers, I always feel stressed when I'm about to go anywhere.
ENS: There are a number of ways in which a child could end up without a nationality. Sometimes statelessness is passed on from stateless parents to their children. Other times, a child fails to acquire a nationality at birth because of a conflict between different nationality laws, or may not be able to prove their legal identity because they were not issued with a birth certificate. Statelessness can also be a problem for some children born to refugees. It can also result from international surrogacy, adoption or where children have been abandoned at birth.
G: Saying “a child could end up without a nationality” is like a child ending up without permission to breathe. This is against all natural law, logic, fairness and justice. Passing statelessness from parents to children is senseless as passing rulership from parent to child. Having to prove your “legal identity” is ridiculous while you obviously exist as flesh and bone in front of other people who have “legal identities”. A birth certificate is not what makes you exist, the fact that you were born does. There is no reason why we cannot name ourselves at any stage we like, like the Indians acquiring a name after they overcome an obstacle, accomplish a feat. All this identity craze is for having control over people. And I agree that people and masses are difficult to deal with and some kind of control would be nice. But then, the people who have the power of control need to be controlled too. As we can see looking at the state of the world, they've made a mess out of it and are making it worse with every passing day. After all, they're the ones who created this thing called statehood, thus all the troubles caused by statelessness.
ENS: No child should be left without nationality. It is a problem that is entirely solvable. UN conventions provide a clear legal framework to define and tackle the issue. By establishing safeguards in nationality laws to ensure that any child born on the territory of a country will be entitled to nationality if they would otherwise be left stateless, we could end childhood statelessness within a generation!
G: Yes. Everybody should be left without nationality. Or to state it in other words, Nobody should have a nationality. It is a problem that is entirely solvable. We can re-write all conventions. Instead of abiding by old conventions written by different people from a different era, we can sit down, define and write down a brand-new set of conventions to make the many wrongs of today right. By abolishing nationality laws, we could end childhood statelessness or statelessness in general be it child or adult. We could end the problems statelessness causes to people who have no fault. We can do this -not within a generation,- even within a decade!
If there is a will...
There is a way....
To Be Continued...
Or read the whole Ending Statelessness or Ending Statehood?
Or END STATELESSNESS BY ENDING STATEHOOD!
ENS, European Network on Statelessness has launched a campaign to end childhood statelessness on wemove.eu. UNHCR has also launched a campaign in 2014 to end statelessness in 10 years. The ENS campaign is for Europe, UNHCR is global; ENS is targeted for children, UNHCR for everybody. Especially UNHCR has put up stories, got celebrities to join them, got signatures etc. I read and read, every page on these websites. I read and read... I understand and know all the troubles statelessness causes. And I definitely agree that they need to be solved. I read and read... I see their goodwill and effort. But as much as I try, I cannot bring myself to join their side on these campaigns, I cannot put my name there.
Yes, statelessness is a very big issue, -maybe even one of the biggest of our times, just one that most people are not aware of. Statelessness needs to be solved. But my logic for solution works the other way around. Statehood is the problem that needs to be solved.
I read and read... I cannot understand how these big big people accept the status quo as the “normal” that needs to be kept as is and protected whereas removing the need for papers, removing statehood, removing the requirement to have a nationality in order to go to school, to access health-care, to work etc. is the most logical way out. It's so ridiculous the way things are. We are made to not exist by the political order, by the “system” if we don't have papers. But #WeExist even without papers. How can you deny this reality and expect a basic human existence to depend on recognition by a “state”?
But that's the way it is. What's worse, people see it as “normal”. I see it as the abnormality that needs to be got rid of.
UNHCR with all the money, support, visibility and recognition in the world can get somewhere, can get ten thousands of signatures, what do you think my chances are if I launched a campaign to end statehood?
Is there even a need to answer that question?
I launched... Actually I didn't launch, I just put it up on my website and announced it to friends on social media, that I was going to go to every country in the world and burn my passports, how many people signed in to support me? Three... One is my husband. The other is someone I had met in a forum on the Economist, he was for no borders but even he found my idea funny and laughed about it. He signed only after I said I was dead serious and he realized I was. The third person to sign was someone I came across on Twitter when I was bombarding “Safe-passage is NOT enough” messages. She said she agreed with me. And when I asked if we could do something about it, get more people to become aware, she signed my “petition” and retweeted me. Well... It was bad timing, she, along with most people, was after the Orlando shooting, and that was that.
My “campaign” would not be for “open” borders, it is for “open” statehood. It is for redefining all our political definitions.
To Be Continued...
Or read the whole Ending Statelessness or Ending Statehood?
As far back as I can remember, money has been an issue in my life. My childhood passed with money constraints. Buying a sheet of paper worth 5 cents to do my homework, getting on two buses instead of one to get home, thus paying 50 cents more was an issue leading to arguments in the household. We lived a poor life coming from a relatively well-off family. Writing this now, I realize that might be the reason why I believe that the same goes for our world... i.e. We live in abundance, but many people suffer needlessly in spite of it. It's the fear of losing our privileges. I believe I am privileged too and I don't want to lose that just as much as the next person, the next xenophobe, the next patriot. Maybe it's the guilt in me that feels uneasy and nags me that the way the world works today is very unfair. I meet so many people who are after money and do such “disgusting” things for the sake of money that I feel like giving them all they want so that they leave me alone and go off their way. So that I have nothing more to do with such people ever again. After all, what would they do if I didn't have any money, the thing they crave for? And I probably would have done that had I not had a child. A child changes so much in your life. It's difficult to deny.
As I said, I've always been fussing about money. My ex-husband used to ask me “Would you do this if it was 5 cents?” “Would you have done this if you had millions in the bank?” Then he reasoned “If so, it is over money that you are fussing.” It seemed an irrefutable logic at the time. I couldn't answer him. Yet... Deep inside, I felt that it was not about money, it was something else. It was the principle, it was justice. But I couldn't convince him or anybody else, not even myself for that matter (!) as I didn't have any proof or an explanation.
I kept on fussing over money with almost all my dealings with institutions, companies and people. And I kept blaming myself. I kept thinking there was something wrong with me. Why did I spend my days, weeks, months over a two year period to get back the 25 Euros a bank charged me? Did it make any sense? It surely couldn't have been about money. My time is much much more precious than that and thank God I don't need such money or let me say I can afford to lose that money without it making the slightest difference in my life. So what was it about? Even if it was about principle, did it make sense? Spending all that time for the possibility of getting that money back? Well... People are not always the most logical creatures on Earth. We spend our time and energies on many a useless things. Still... Was it only that? Wasn't there any reason behind my behavior at all?
Then I had trouble with people not paying me. People haggling over money... Who needed to pay what etc. My solution was simple. If we had a dispute, the person who believed that s/he didn't need to pay would pay somebody else in need. Donate the money for a cause. Donate it to an orphanage, to a charity. So that s/he could give the money in question feeling to have done good and the other would be fine not feeling swindled. But nobody seemed to agree with me. They just discarded the idea. Well, actually, for some reason I simply couldn't and still cannot understand, this suggestion of mine brought about a strong anti-reaction from people.
We kept fighting over money with my new husband too. He made money; but he spent it on wrong things. He also was careless and let everybody swindle him. It was almost always the big companies. You know how they get money out of your pocket? The phone company... “Ah, Internet is a 4 Euro/day tariff,” they say. I downloaded 3 kb of stuff, 4 Euros. They charged this three times before we realized it.
“The tariff is written differently on my account on your website.”
“It doesn't matter. You came from a professional tariff, it is more convenient this way. That's the default.”
How am I supposed to know the default if it writes something else on my account?! But who can argue with a non-logical non-human entity? You bump on a wall every time you need to deal with the customer service of an institution.
Money kept going like this. My husband just let it go. But I couldn't. The friction sometimes became unbearable. Now... I love my husband dearly. I don't want to fuss, I feel guilty and bad that money can cause trouble in our marriage. And as I said, it's not that I need it now. I can forget about that money very easily. Yet... I cannot.
So after all this, I came to a realization one day. My ex-husband was asking the wrong question. What if the question he asked was different. I asked myself: “Would I fuss if that 25 Euros went to an orphanage?” The answer was “Definitely no.” I went on... “Would I have fussed if twice, if five times, if ten times that money went to an orphanage?” The answer was again “Definitely no.” I went on a bit further... “Would I have fussed if a hundred times that money went to an orphanage?” The answer was still “Definitely no.” And it was an honest and sincere “Definitely No!”
So then I knew... The problem was not money. The problem was where the money went.
Effective Altruism and the Starfish
Where one spends his money gives away a lot about him. In the modern world, we spend carelessly, or let me say the standard white-collar employee who spends a lot of his time at the office making a decent amount of money usually does so. He works so that he can have his whims or impulse-buyings satisfied. He has money, he can spend it without thinking.
There are people who call themselves EA- Effective Altruists, they work to give money. Instead of getting a low-paid charity job, you get a high-paid Wall-Street job, even if it's not so ethical, so that you can donate a lot of money to a charity of your choice. (Haseeb Qureshi is one of them if you wish to read his story.) Of course EA's choices of giving are determined by GiveWell, an organization who has done a lot of research on the impact of dollars spent on charities. Certainly, as prices are very low in under-developed countries, your money goes much further. Would you save a child for 3000 USD or would you give it to pay for the semi-annual fee of a school to educate a youngster? The choice seems obvious. But what if that youngster is your own child? What about giving up your ordinary luxuries and saving a child? Is the only importance to save lives or is it more important to have less in quantity more in quality-lives?
There are no easy, clear-cut answers to any of these questions. Earning-to-give like Effective Altruists, or saving-to-give like me may seem to make sense up to a point. But that point is not so far... I've never liked the starfish story. “Ah, see it made a change for this one...” Yes but, that's not good enough. Unless there is a snowballing effect and there starts an avalanche, we'll just be raking a couple of leaves while a storm is blowing and all the work we've done will soon be wasted. We need an alternate effective solution to altruism!
Herein comes governments!
Governments are the big spenders of money. They collect our money as tax and use it to their heart's desires. If we want to make a radical change in the world, -and we sure need to make a radical change in the world!- we need to change the taxation system; we need to change where the money goes. So I wish my proposal to let us decide where our tax money goes is implemented or better yet, the system of the Aazer platform is implemented. My proposal was for governments to decide the items and make the budget for them where we decided which items to give money to. However, the idea of Aazer, the people deciding the items that are budgeted by the individual provider is the higher goal. In that case, government can be reduced to its basics and we all can live a more decent life.