The Right to a Nationality (2-37)

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What is one up against as a child not in possession of a nationality ?

This question is integrally related to the episode and report related to the Right to a Name which will be necessary to consult in order to get the most complete grasp of this problematic. (Click on the words to access this information).

As we have seen, everything starts with the registration of one’s birth, and the rights inherent to the legal existence thereby procured. In their everyday life, stateless children may be denied access to schools, medical care, education and later, when adults, even the right to work since the country in which they live does not recognize them as one of their citizens.

Children may also be deprived of a nationality if their parents are nationals of different countries and the respective legal systems thereof are not harmonised.

In certain countries, it is actually the case that stateless persons are not allowed to possess personal property or even to get married !

In light of unacceptable scenarios such as those described in the examples, one can certainly better grasp the crucial importance of possessing a nationality in our modern day world of the twenty first century !
To be deprived of one’s nationality is to be deprived of a basic human right

How can we improve matters ?

As always and first of all, by concretely and globally applying the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular articles 7 & 8. The countries in which the above situations have been observed are in fact signatories to this treaty and as such are legally bound to have rectified these situations a long time ago….

The UN agency responsible for stateless persons is the High Commissioner for Refugees which actively works on this issue in partnership with other organisations such as the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNICEF.

There are several conventions specific to the situation of stateless persons that have been signed in the past, for example the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (1954) and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961).

Thankfully, it was possible to regularize the situation of millions of people in the past, but let us not forget that past success has no bearing on the future and does not prevent millions of human beings from being without a nationality in the world today !

Chat CyberDodo

To see the cartoon on the Right to a Nationality, click here

For the game, click here

To see the cartoon on the Right to a Name, click here

For the game, click here

© CyberDodo Productions Ltd.

Articles 7 and 8 on the Convention on the Rights of the Child take up the question of identity. Several aspects are concerned, such as the birth of a child, his name, his family, his language, ethnic affiliation, etc. In fact, each of these characteristics merit reflection, and as such, a specific report.

What does the Convention on the Rights of the Child have to say?

Article 7: Name and Nationality

The right to a name from birth and the right to a nationality.

Article 8: Protection of identity

The obligation of the State to protect, and in the absence thereof, to reestablish the fundamental aspects of the identity of a child (name, nationality, family relations)
Nationality is as such an integral part of the identity of each human being that we must certainly ask why millions of people are deprived of a nationality. What are the causes ? What are the consequences ? In order to provide a concrete answer, let’s try to understand the situation of someone without a nationality. First of all, what are they called ?

It is a stateless person, in other words, a person not recognized by any country as one of its citizens.

Nationality is an important part of one’s identity

There are numerous reasons that explain why one may not be in possession of a nationality or have lost a nationality, among them are war, including the notable and tragic example of the conflicts on African soil which continue to displace millions, thereby preventing the registry of birth, marriages and deaths and as such, the procurement of a nationality for many.

Geopolitical upheavals such as the dissolution of the former USSR are other real causes. By splintering into several countries, this former empire created numerous stateless persons given that they were no longer Soviets – this country no longer existed – and the new states did not recognize them as citizens. This phenomenon was reproduced almost identically in the wake of the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

Other situations, apparently less dramatic in nature, can produce the same effects for their victims, such as nomadism. Traditionally, peoples spent their lives moving around on immense territories covering different states, without possessing the nationality of any of them. For centuries, this situation caused them no problem but in our modern world, with its requirements concerning security and control, and in a world in which this way of life has become much more difficult, these persons find themselves de facto excluded/marginalized as they are unable to traverse national boundaries without formal identification.