stateless to statehood

There are more than 200 sovereign states that govern the 6.7 billion people in the world. But large groups of people have fallen through the cracks of international law and lack many of the benefits of belonging to a nation-state. Our Stateless to Statehood project explores the relationship between individuals, ethnic groups and states -- from the 12 million people without any citizenship to the tens of millions yearning to form entirely new nations. The project focuses on three groups:

  • Citizens of nowhere - Every day, about 12 million people wake up as citizens of no nation at all. These men, women and children are scattered across six continents and excluded from virtually all the benefits of nationality -- a passport, the right to vote, land ownership, access to health care and legal employment. From Rohingyas in Myanmar to Nubians in Kenya and Haitians in the Dominican Republic, stateless individuals live without the protection and recognition of the government that rules the place where they live. On June 10, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the first-ever American legislation to recognize and reduce statelessness, which also addressed issues of global stability and security. The issue encompasses a tangle of nationalistic politics, ethnic discrimination and international human rights law.
  • Refugees are victims of violent conflict who are unable or unwilling to return to their country of nationality. Currently, 16 million people are recognized by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees as refugees or asylum seekers. Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghanis and Somalis are the largest refugee groups currently living outside their countries of origin. Their country of nationality cannot protect them, and they typically rely on international bodies to provide them with aid and sufficient livelihood.
  • State-seekers are groups striving for autonomy and national self-determination. They often view themselves as stateless peoples. Even though most of these groups have formal, legal ties to nation-states, they often seek to attain a state that will better serve their interests. While around 200 million people belong to groups seeking secession or greater autonomy, a small fraction are actively involved in these struggles. Kurds, Uyghurs, Tibetans and Basques are a few of the groups whose situations we explore.

"Stateless to Statehood" examines the root causes of statelessness in the post-colonial period, in the the aftermath of major wars and the break-up of empires. We're identifying potential ways to solve statelessness via legal and political avenues, as well as exploring the themes of nationalism and ethnic identity.

Stateless to Statehood

Worldfocus Radio: Iraqi Refugee Crisis

Worldfocus Radio

Worldfocus Radio: Iraqi Refugee Crisis

Almost 7 years after the start of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, the international community still struggles to help the 2 million refugees and almost 3 million internally displaced persons who have not been able to return home. Martin Savidge hosts Aidan Goldsmith and Sawsan Al-Sayyab of the International Rescue Committee.

Posted: February 10, 2010 14:10   Comments: 1
In South Sudan, schools still function under trees

Perspectives + Video

In South Sudan, schools still function under trees

Jen Marlowe is an independent journalist with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. She is currently documenting and writing about education, infrastructure and health care, which remain among the most vital needs in rebuilding South Sudan.

Posted: January 25, 2010 14:53   Comments: 4
Worldfocus Radio: Haiti and DR — Unequal Neighbors

Worldfocus Radio

Worldfocus Radio: Haiti and DR — Unequal Neighbors

Martin Savidge hosts Marselha Gonçalves Margerin of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights and Michele Wucker of the World Policy Institute to discuss these unequal neighbors. From racism and hate crimes to migration and increased trading, they examine the relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and the role of the U.S.

Posted: January 20, 2010 20:30   Comments: 25
Ethnicity still divides Bosnia, threatening its fragile peace

Signature Video

Ethnicity still divides Bosnia, threatening its fragile peace

An estimated 100,000 people were killed and another 2 million displaced during Bosnia's civil war 14 years ago. Special correspondent Kira Kay and producer Jason Maloney of the Bureau for International Reporting recently traveled to central Bosnia to report on how one ethnically-partitioned school mirrors the country's struggles with identity today.

Posted: January 6, 2010 17:53   Comments: 21
Turkey’s Kurds seek justice for unsolved murders

Signature Video

Turkey’s Kurds seek justice for unsolved murders

Correspondent Gizem Yarbil and producer Bryan Myers recently traveled to the Kurdish enclave of Diyarbakir in eastern Turkey for a closer look at the allegations that the Turkish government had engaged in a so-called "dirty war" against the Kurds.

Posted: December 16, 2009 14:15   Comments: 35
Somali journalist on culture of violence and crippled press

Extended Interview

Somali journalist on culture of violence and crippled press

Mustafa Haji Abdinur, an AFP journalist and the founder of Radio Simba in Somalia, sits down with Martin Savidge to discuss the culture of violence in daily Somali life and the war against the independent press. Since 2007, fighting in Somalia has killed 19,000 civilians and displaced 1.5 million Somalis.

Posted: November 24, 2009 18:26   Comments: 7
Conflict endures in Ethiopia’s ethnic Somali Region

Q & A

Conflict endures in Ethiopia’s ethnic Somali Region

The violent, separatist conflict in southeastern Ethiopia has claimed thousands of lives over the last 15 years. Former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia David H. Shinn answers questions about the roots of this under reported conflict and whether it could be the next Darfur.

Posted: November 11, 2009 11:59   Comments: 47
Somali pirates: Behind the news

Connie Kargbo (blog)

Somali pirates: Behind the news

As word comes of another pirate hijacking - this time 700 nautical miles east of the coast of Somalia - Worldfocus producer Connie Kargbo traces the roots of the ongoing Somali pirate situation.

Posted: October 19, 2009 11:55   Comments: 4
Over 12 million people worldwide have no citizenship

Web Interactive

Over 12 million people worldwide have no citizenship

Around the world, an estimated 12 million individuals lack nationality or citizenship in any nation. This means they have no legal right to a passport, employment, or housing. Explore this Worldfocus map for more information about statelessness around the globe.

Posted: October 16, 2009 13:43   Comments: 2
South Yemenis clamor for secession from Yemen

Mohammad Al-Kassim

South Yemenis clamor for secession from Yemen

Worldfocus producer Mohammad Al-Kassim writes about the separatist movement in Southern Yemen - an under-reported story that could have major implications for the United States.

Posted: October 16, 2009 13:40   Comments: 3
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