Thanks a lot @lauragoodwin for sharing the World’s Statelessness 2017 Report compiled by the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion. The report is rich, thought provoking, largely promising, and extremely rewarding -for those who will find time to peruse it. Be warned, however, that it’s quite a volume, but targeted reading will do you justice.
It is refreshing to see the remarkable transformation that the global discourse on statelessness has undergone in the past two years. It is also quite heartening to learn that citizenship rights campaign across the globe has achieved momentous milestones in the same period. The #I belong campaign has not only gained traction across the globe but also galvanized political will to address the problem of statelessness since its launch in 2014. This is evident in positive legislative policies, national action plans, increased accession to statelessness conventions, and increased solutions to protracted statelessness with many governments across the world granting or confirming nationality to thousands of stateless persons. For instance, the Kenyan government granted nationality to the Makonde, a stateless community with historical links to Mozambique that has been living in the Coastal region of Kenya since 1963. Members of the Makonde community successfully went through the naturalization process in late 2016 and were issued with national identity cards in January 2017.
Another notable development that network members, especially from the African region, may want to follow in the next few months is that the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) adopted a draft protocol on the right to nationality that will go to the African Union members for review this year. It is instructive to consider the opportunities this creates for our work, but it will also be interesting to see the impetus it will add to the campaign that’s increasingly gaining momentum in the region.
Sadly, almost no progress has been registered across the globe in the campaign to eliminate gender discrimination from nationality laws since 2014. However, the envisaged cooperation among UNHCR, OHCHR, States, and Civil society to disseminate good practices that can inform elimination of gender discrimination from nationality laws is a step in the right direction, but which unfortunately solves just half the puzzle. The other half is whether these ‘progressive’ laws are actually implemented. You will agree with me that women around the world are still discriminated against in countries that have taken the bold step to eliminate gender discrimination from their nationality laws- a practice that continues to make many children stateless. A deliberate effort should, therefore, be made to close the implementation gap.
Another area of concern as highlighted by Mustafa in his article is the lack of progress in the implementation of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights of Women and Children’s (ACERWC) recommendation compelling the government of Kenya to take measures (legislative and administrative) to ensure that Children of Nubian descent in Kenya can acquire a Kenyan nationality and the proof of that nationality at birth. Nubians still go through discriminatory procedures while seeking nationality documents because the Kenyan government has been agonizingly slow in implementing the ACERWC recommendation.
On a more positive note, I draw lots of inspiration, (especially due to my affiliation to Haki Centre, a human rights organization that’s already making baby steps in mainstreaming the sales force in its right to citizenship project), seeing how the system was instrumental in tracking discriminatory practices and eventually generating data that formed the basis of the report to ACERWC on the status of implementation of their judgment. Salesforce is evidently becoming a very powerful tool for advocacy. Congratulations @mustafa_mahmoud and team for the good work! The Haki Centre team including @Lore, @amoory, and others remain deeply indebted to you guys for the technical support.