Anasuya Ray is a researcher for an NGO based in Pune, India. She writes about her recent fieldwork in India’s tribal belt, where grinding poverty and malnutrition are driving villagers to support the Naxalites, a rebel group seeking to overthrow the government.
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.org's weekly radio show explores the recent violence involving China's ethnic minority Uighur population. The show also looks at Uighur aspirations of secession, Han Chinese immigration and Chinese nationalism. Enze Han, Andrew James Nathan and Alim Seytoff join the conversation. Listen now.
This week, western China has endured the worst ethnic violence in decades. A Worldfocus contributing blogger explores the roots of the ethnic clashes between the Muslim Uighurs and the Han Chinese.
Worldfocus.org’s weekly radio show explores rising tensions in South Sudan, the site of a two-decade civil war between the Muslim north and mostly Christian south. As post-war violence mounts and threatens the region's fragile peace, South Sudan may become more deadly than Darfur. Jen Marlowe, Eric Reeves and Sunday Taabu join the conversation.
Thousands died in the 1998-99 Kosovo war between Serbs and ethnic Albanians, and Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Worldfocus anchor Martin Savidge recalls his experience reporting on the Albanian border as Kosovars fled the conflict, losing their homes and lives as they walked a mere 139 steps.
Up to one million people of Haitian origin currently live in the Dominican Republic, and many are subjected to discrimination and violence, with their Dominican-born children denied citizenship. A Worldfocus contributing blogger describes the escalating human rights concerns.
Across the globe, between 12 and 15 million people live in various stages of statelessness, which means they lack citizenship in any country. Worldfocus.org's weekly radio show explored the common themes that surface among stateless people -- economic discrimination, social exclusion, identity and the feeling of invisibility. Bill Berkeley and Dawn Calabia joined the conversation. Listen now.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed the idea of a Palestinian state for the first time, but with tough conditions and a refusal to stop building in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Daniel Levy of the New America Foundation discusses the announcement and Israel's reaction to the Iranian election.
While visiting Bethlehem, Pope Benedict XVI used the symbolism of his first official visit to what Christians consider to be the birthplace of Jesus to endorse the creation of a Palestinian state. Mary Boys of the Union Theological Seminary discusses the pope’s relations with Jews and Muslims and how his trip is being perceived on all sides.