Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this piece...
Or read the whole Ending Statelessness or Ending Statehood?
Let's go on with the rest of the pieces on the UNHCR website in order to give some more insight into the problem:
UNHCR: In a world comprised of States, the problem of statelessness remains a glaring anomaly with devastating impacts on the lives of at least 10 million people around the world who live without any nationality.
Their one common curse, the lack of any nationality, deprives them of rights that the majority of the global population takes for granted. Often they are excluded from cradle to grave—being denied a legal identity when they are born, access to education, health care, marriage and job opportunities during their lifetime and even the dignity of an official burial and a death certificate when they die.
Statelessness is a man-made problem and occurs because of a bewildering array of causes. Entire swathes of a population may become stateless overnight due to political or legal directives or the redrawing of state boundaries. Families endure generations of statelessness despite having deep-rooted and longstanding ties to their communities and countries.
G: Statelessness is definitely a man-made problem and occurs because of one bewildering cause: That a person needs to belong to a state in order to have basic human rights!
UNHCR: Some have become stateless due to administrative obstacles; they simply fall through the cracks of a system that ignores or has forgotten them. More than two decades after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, over 600,000 people remain stateless.
Some 300,000 Urdu-speaking Biharis were denied citizenship by the government of Bangladesh when the country gained its independence in 1971. In Côte d’Ivoire, there are 700,000 stateless people who have no nationality or the rights that flow from it. More than 800,000 Rohingya in Myanmar have been refused nationality under the 1982 citizenship law and their freedom of movement, religion and education severely curtailed.
Over a third of the world’s stateless are children and the stigma of statelessness could follow them for the rest of their lives, even past their deaths; if they have children of their own, this generation will also be stateless and the crisis perpetuated.
G: Yes, isn't it ridiculous and outrageous that such a stigma follows you even past your death? That you leave your children such a legacy? Even if you didn't have any money, at least, statelessness and stigma shouldn't be what you leave.
UNHCR: This centuries-old problem first began to stir the consciousness of the international community when words such as ‘inhumane,’ ‘embarrassing’ and ‘a blemish in international law’ were applied to the plight of stateless people. UNHCR was mandated to assist stateless refugees in 1950.
G: I was not mandated to assist stateless refugees but I guess I am in a way mandated by a higher power or by the force within me to speak up against this torture of states on any human being when the only thing we want is to go about our normal lives.
UNHCR: Today at least 10 million people world-wide are stateless. They are fighting for the same basic human rights that the most of us take for granted. Often they are excluded from cradle to grave— being denied a legal identity when they are born, access to education, health care, marriage and job opportunities during their lifetime and even the dignity of an official burial and a death certificate when they die. Many pass on the curse of statelessness on to their children, who then pass it on to the next generation.
The irony is that these people find themselves stateless through no fault of their own-and in most cases their condition could be resolved through minor changes in existing laws. UNHCR has an international mandate to prevent and reduce statelessness.
“Without nationality, many say they cannot enjoy their human rights in full including the right to move freely and to own property. They have often have poor access to basic services like affordable healthcare and higher education,” UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler told a news briefing in Geneva.
“They often aren’t allowed to go to school, see a doctor, get a job, open a bank account, buy a house or even get married.”
Stateless persons are often marginalized and discriminated against when they try to access the most basic services, (i.e. health care, education, employment, etc.). Many stateless persons are treated as irregular “aliens” in the country where they were born.
Denied a nationality and deprived of their basic human rights, stateless people in Côte d’Ivoire cannot go to high school, get a formal job, open a bank account, own land, travel freely or vote.
UNHCR spoke to children and young people from 7 different countries. Many of the children and young people had never spoken to anyone about what it was like to be stateless. They told us that that being stateless had taken a serious psychological toll, describing themselves as “invisible,” “alien,” living in a shadow,” like a street dog” and “worthless.”
G: I believe they feel all these. And or but, Whose fault is it? Shame on the people who have structured a world order where people feel these things if they do not fit into the system.
UNHCR: The prevention and resolution of childhood statelessness is one of the key goals of UNHCR’s Campaign to End Statelessness in 10 Years, or by 2024. To achieve this goal, UNHCR urges all States to take the following steps in line with the Global Action Plan to End Statelessness:
* Allow children to gain the nationality of the country in which they are born if they would otherwise be stateless.
* Reform laws that prevent mothers from passing their nationality to their children on an equal basis as fathers.
* Eliminate laws and practices that deny children nationality because of their ethnicity, race or religion.
* Ensure universal birth registration to prevent statelessness.
G: I agree with ensuring universal birth registration. The rest is all reasonable too of course, but I'd prefer to change the system around completely instead of trying to fix something that's been set up wrong.
UNHCR insists that this problem is largely avoidable, and with adequate political will, entirely solvable too.
G: Yes I too insist that this problem is avoidable; in fact, not largely, completely avoidable! With adequate political will, giving up the use or rather abuse of political power over people, it is entirely solvable.
UNHCR: Governments establish who their nationals are. This makes them responsible for legal and policy reforms that are necessary to effectively address statelessness. But UNHCR, other agencies, regional organizations, civil society and stateless people all have roles to play in supporting their efforts.
To make a difference, we must work together. Each of the four areas of our work on statelessness –identification, prevention, reduction and protection –overlap with the expertise of other international organizations and NGOs, and we rely on the local knowledge and expertise of civil society groups, national human rights institutions, academics and legal associations. Their contribution to our work allows us to prepare and recommend the most effective solutions.
G: Governments should be responsible but they are irresponsible. They are responsible for a lot of the problems in the world. Yes, governments establish who their nationals are and that is what is so wrong! People should be establishing whose nationals they wish to be!
Now let's go back to ENS too just a bit:
ENS: We believe that all human beings have a right to a nationality
G: I believe that all human beings have a right to live with dignity without a nationality.
ENS: and that those who lack nationality altogether are entitled to adequate protection.
G: Yes of course. Everybody is entitled to adequate protection regardless of nationality. “What's love got to do with it?” Tina Turner asks, I ask “What's nationality got to do with it?”
ENS: We believe that the full scope of this problem must be understood – who are the stateless, where are they, and why are they stateless – in order to implement effective policy to resolve the problem.
G: We don't need to understand the full scope of this problem. We only need to implement effective policy to remove the concept of nationality.
ENS: To be stateless is to not be recognized as a citizen by any state. It is a legal anomaly that often prevents people from accessing fundamental civil, political, economic, cultural and social rights.
G: This legal anomaly of nationality must be removed and everybody should have access to fundamental civil, political, economic, cultural and social rights. Full stop.
ENS: “Everyone has the right to a nationality”
G: Everyone has the right to dignity (even) without a nationality.
To Be Continued...