I find myself wondering what would catapult the citizenship equality discussion to the next level. We have seen grassroots organizations do a lot and invest heavily in assisting communities vulnerable and otherwise towards securing citizenship and nationality documentation and status. From a Kenyan context paralegals through their grassroots organizations work tirelessly to bridge the gap between government and the people by continuing to be champions. With a lot of evidence through paralegal case data and complementary efforts from Human Rights organizations, the profile of citizenship, nationality and statelessness has been raised in the country.
Although we have seen grave wins with palpable highlights such as the Makonde community being issued with citizenship and nationality documentation and the Nubian community in Kibra being issued with a community land title, my fear is that these wins were based on individual plight and some goodwill from the state, we are yet to see significant reforms that would ensure that such inherent rights are not only guaranteed and protected but encouraged.
My feeling along with many grassroots organizations and rights defenders is that we are at a precipice and that our only saving grace would be holistic legislative and policy reform along with adequate structures remain as the keys to equality in citizenship and nationality determination and sustainable end to discrimination.
The challenge has been getting government to buy into and commit to such reforms which also serve as the basis of widely acclaimed decisions like Nubian Minors and Ali vs Kenya and so I constantly ask myself; how do we build on the success of the Makonde and Nubian community to ensure legislative, policy and structural reform for a sustainable end to discrimination in citizenship and nationality determination and statelessness? How do we leverage all these along with other efforts like workshops, conferences and strategy meetings which are resource intensive in the struggle?
The efforts of CONCISE in Kenya have been commendable but then what strategies do we use to leverage such gains and what lessons can we learn from a global context?