After the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, for the first time, Palestinians began to take control of their own economic destiny. Foreign money soon began pouring into the West Bank. Now, businessmen are complaining less about Israel and more about cheap exports from China.
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
Dr. Sameeh Shbaib of Birzeit University in the West Bank discusses the latest Palestinian national reconciliation meetings in Cairo with Worldfocus producer Mohammad al-Kassim.
Amjad Atallah of the New America Foundation discusses U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's announcement that the U.S. will send two representatives to Syria and the significance of her talks with Israeli leaders.
The International Criminal Court may be close to a decision on whether to arrest and indict Sudanese leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes in Darfur.
A Worldfocus contributing blogger writes about Hungary's gypsy community, which is now largely settled. Tensions between the gypsies and Hungarian society continue.
The word "genocide" was coined in the aftermath of World War II and has since been used to describe some modern conflicts. But the term itself has become a source of conflict, as many look to whether or not governments and leaders recognize and punish genocide. Bloggers discuss the use -- or misuse -- of the word.
Worldfocus contributor Mohsin Mohi-Ud Din writes about the decision to remove the disputed region of Kashmir from U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke's mandate, arguing that the move will have dangerous repercussions.
Worldfocus anchor Martin Savidge hosts a webcasted radio show to discuss the historical roots of the current war in Gaza and the Israeli-Hamas conflict. Listen here.
As some of the 2.7 million people displaced by violence across Darfur, young male refugees face hunger and alienation, with little future to anticipate. Now, they have formed an outspoken political force known as the "shabab," Arabic for "young men."