This final chapter looks at how we can mobilise more effectively to address childhood statelessness. The previous chapters in this report paint a complex picture of the challenges that stateless children face (as a result of discrimination, forced migration, the denial of socio-economic rights and exclusion); and the various frameworks through which statelessness and its negative impacts can be raised and addressed (such as international human rights mechanisms, the courts, legal safeguards against statelessness and the sustainable development goals). Addressing these challenges and tapping into these different frameworks requires the sustained engagement of many actors across different fields and at all levels. Furthermore, creating the political climate for change requires the engagement of political leaders and the general public. This level of change cannot be achieved without effectively mobilising different groups - the public, affected persons, political leaders and professional actors to take statelessness up as an issue worth fighting to eradicate.
And so, the issue of mobilisation is an extremely important one for the statelessness field. It is an area in which, for a relatively young field, we have made a lot of progress and we can collectively continue to learn from other more established movements as well. In this context, it is important to note that mobilisation can be a particularly challenging issue for statelessness actors, as the subjects of our focus are disenfranchised by definition. The disenfranchisement of the stateless can make them a difficult community to mobilise – as the cost of publicly claiming rights can be higher for those whose legal standing is tenuous. Similarly, their disenfranchisement can mean that it is more difficult to find an ‘advocacy target’ that will seriously consider their cause.
As this chapter shows, in a short time, statelessness actors have developed many ‘good practices’ and creative mobilisation techniques, some of which are having a strong impact. Those who have gone down the path of mobilisation, have understood that the statelessness field cannot necessarily blindly copy other movements – the LGBTI or race equality movements for example, that have effectively mobilised public action and support around the world - but have to draw on the experiences of others, to find creative, effective and sustainable ways to mobilise around the unique issue of statelessness. Mobilising to address statelessness is a ‘work in progress’, and this chapter presents a range of experiences, reflections and perspectives, which provide a glimpse into what has been done and the challenges that lie ahead.
This chapter begins with the reflections of those who have campaigned and mobilised to address childhood statelessness around the world. The first essay is by Chris Nash, the director of the European Network on Statelessness, on the Network’s #StatelessKids campaign, which has well and truly put the issue of childhood statelessness on the European agenda. The campaign’s strategies and successes provide a lot of food for thought, for actors around the world who are considering campaigning on statelessness at regional or national levels. One of the #Stateless Kids Campaign strategies – schools outreach – is the focus of the second short essay by Katarzyna Przybyslawska , who implemented such a programme in Poland. A couple of example activities from the ENS Schools Outreach Toolkit have also been included. This chapter then looks at another campaign, the Global Campaign on Equal Nationality Rights. Campaign manager Catherine Harrington shows how the campaign has drawn on the momentum and experience of the women’s rights movement at large, to promote gender equal nationality rights around the world. In the next essay, Subin Mulmi guides us through the cat and mouse game that campaigners for equal nationality rights in Nepal played with law makers, as they garnered massive public support to challenge gender discriminatory nationality provisions in the draft constitution. This essay is followed by an interview with a stateless child from Nepal , herself a member of the affected persons network campaigning for change.
The second half of this chapter focuses on other strategies and factors to bear in mind when mobilising around the issue of childhood statelessness. Marie Brokstad Lund-Johansen’s short essay looks at the mobilisation of Bidoon youth in Kuwait, and argues that developments in technology and greater access to information have spurred the younger generation to take a different, more combative approach to advocating their cause. The next piece by ISI Co-Director Amal de Chickera reflects on an exercise of accountability towards stateless children and youth at the 2016 UNHCR NGO Consultations, arguing that accountability to affected persons is of central importance to the notion of mobilisation on their behalf. This is followed by a short essay by Aleksandra Semeriak Gavrilenok, which reflects on how statelessness can be introduced as an ‘ideal’ topic for debate at Model UN Conferences – a useful strategy to strengthen awareness, interest and ultimately mobilisation among young students. Charlie Rumsby’s essay which follows, speaks to the importance of and challenges related to researching statelessness. She guides us through methodologies that can be adopted, particularly when interviewing children. Her essay demonstrates how strong and sensitive research can serve as the basis for subsequent and effective mobilisation for change. This chapter ends with an overview by Laura Quintana Soms of an innovative mobilisation technique of using theatre to address social prejudice and challenge statelessness in the Dominican Republic.