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Lecture | Studium Generale

Challenging statelessness: Recognition and the arbitrariness of belonging

Tuesday 12 November 2019
Anna van Buerenplein
Anna van Buerenplein 301
2595 DG The Hague

In “The Origins of Totalitarianism”, Hanna Arendt is eloquent to describe how the Rights of Man (which have developed in what we know today as Human Rights), although proclaimed to be inalienable, are inapplicable and useless unless people are recognized as legal members of a sovereign nation state, that is, unless they are citizens. According to UNHCR in the world today there are at least 10 million people who are stateless, namely people who are not recognized as citizens. As a consequence, they are denied various kinds of fundamental rights such as access to education, medical services, right to travel. Legally speaking, these people do not exist. By referring to various examples of stateless populations –in the Americas, Asia and Europe– the ambit of this talk is to not only discuss the legal framework that produces statelessness, but also to look at the effect of conceiving citizenship only as a State-based status. In a world where mobility is not only fundamental due to the globalized character of our societies, but increasingly inevitable as a consequence of the climate change, the arbitrariness of belonging is a pressing dilemma for citizenship.

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