Millions denied citizenship due to ideas of national, ethnic or racial ‘purity’: UN rights expert

UN Photo/Manuel Elias
E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on racism, xenophobia and related intolerance at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 21 February 2018.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

Ideologies which define nationality as being determined by ethnicity or bloodline are denying millions of people of their right to citizenship, a UN expert has charged.

E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on racism, focused on the issue of ethno-nationalism in her first report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, whose current session ends on Friday.

In it, she highlighted the plight of millions of stateless people worldwide—often members of minority groups—who are victims of long-standing discrimination which sees them as “foreign”, even though they have been resident in a country for generations or even centuries.

Meanwhile, several countries continue to enforce “patriarchal laws” which make it impossible for women to pass down citizenship status to their children or foreign-born spouse.

In some cases, women are even stripped of their nationality upon marrying a foreigner and cannot regain it if the marriage ends.

“This is gender-based discrimination often deployed by States to preserve notions of national, ethnic and racial ‘purity,’” she said.

Ms. Achiume believes prejudice rooted in ethno-nationalism is behind racial discrimination, whether in citizenship or immigration laws.

She recalled that in the past, European colonial powers used the ideology to exclude local populations within colonies from gaining citizenship, while Jews and Roma were targeted on the same grounds, in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Today, she said, migrants are the target of political hate speech and intolerance, again often under the pretext of ethnic purity and religious, cultural or linguistic preservation.

“Countries that have long celebrated immigration as central to their national identity have taken steps to vilify and undermine immigration, with a disproportionate effect on certain racial, religious and national groups,” Ms. Achiume pointed out.

“Islamophobic or anti-Semitic ethno-nationalism undermines the rights of Muslims and Jews irrespective of citizenship status…the case of the Rohingya Muslims offers a chilling example.”

The Rohingya are a mostly Muslim minority in Myanmar, which is a predominantly Buddhist nation.

Though resident there for centuries, Ms. Achiume said many Rohingya have been rendered stateless following a 1982 nationality law that discriminates on the basis of ethnicity.

Waves of violence and discrimination have driven scores of Rohingya to neighbouring Bangladesh. More than 700,000 have arrived in the past year alone in the wake of a violent military crackdown that began in late August.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

These social entrepreneurs are lighting up Africa

More than half of world’s refugee children ‘do not get an education’, warns UNHCR

How responsible businesses can step forward to fight coronavirus

“Sorry mom it’s not our day”: the true refugee story of a young doctor and his family forced to flee their home

Here’s how to find a job you really love

UN agency plan tackles ‘hidden cost’ of gold, paves way for safer, mercury-free mining

Love Affair with Some(one)/(thing)

Civil society groups matter for Cambodia’s sustainable development: UN expert

To what extent are our moral standards responsible for killing people?

Smokers who quit one month before surgery reap benefits: UN health agency

Here’s how we reboot digital trade for the 21st century

The West cannot ignore Russia; dazed Germany sitting on the fence

“France will be there, it will always be there!”, French President Hollande says in a rather disorganised speech; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

Direction Wakanda: finance methods to make Africa a superhero continent

Venezuela: Parliament recognises Guaidó, urges EU to follow suit

Team Europe increased Official Development Assistance to €66.8 billion as the world’s leading donor in 2020

We need to rethink neuroscience. And you can help us

Four in 10 indigenous languages at risk of disappearing, warn UN human rights experts

Congrats to the #FutureofMalta: a new age of voting

Eurozone: Avoiding a new Greek accident

Venezuelan exodus to Ecuador reaches record levels: UN refugee agency steps up aid

Here are 10 of Nelson Mandela’s most inspirational quotes

Civilians ‘must never be a target,’ says UN in Afghanistan, amid troubling number of casualties during Ramadan

China will be the world’s top tourist destination by 2030

More than 90 per cent of Africa migrants would make perilous Europe journey again, despite the risks

Eurozone: Austerity brings new political tremors

Sahel States need international support ‘now more than ever’– UN peacekeeping chief

What universities can learn about citizenship in the COVID-19 pandemic

UN, African Union make significant joint commitment to global health

MEPs hail minimum global corporate tax rate deal as historic

The Future of Retail: Changing shopping patterns will mean retailers need to invest in costly and complex solutions

On technology and medical ethics

Why the future for cars is connected

5 myths about face masks under the microscope

Medical students against male supremacy

Mali: Two peacekeepers dead after dawn attack, several injured – UN Mission

A Sting Exclusive: “Sustainable development goals: what role for business?” Commissioner Mimica asks live from European Business Summit 2015

Medical ethics in the age of the social media influencers

Empowering people living with HIV ‘will end the epidemic’, says AIDS agency chief

5 things we get wrong about young people, according to a US study

Europe votes against GMOs but the Council votes for TTIP

Five ways individuals can help save the oceans

Scientists have a new suggestion to create more climate-friendly cows

IMF: When high yield goes boom

It’s time to build a responsible media supply chain

Europe eyes to replace US as China’s prime foreign partner

Myanmar: Departing UN rights expert still hopeful for democratic transition

European Labour Authority ready to start working in October as decision is taken on new seat

‘The best-selling brand today is fear’: UN chief highlights urgent need to address global ‘deficit of trust’

FROM THE FIELD: Going the extra mile with vaccines

EU-US Privacy Shield data exchange deal: US must comply by 1 September, say MEPs

These are the UK’s biggest trading partners

How technology can help us achieve universal healthcare

Conflict of interest and misuse of EU funds: The case of Czech PM Babiš

Towards a stronger and more resilient Schengen area

4 principles for securing the digital identity ecosystem

7 ways business can be agents for peace

EU budget 2022: Speeding up Europe’s recovery and progressing towards a green, digital and resilient future

SDGs and the historical and economic impact on Brazilian health

Rich economies not a promise of education equality, new report finds

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s