Imagine you have no birth certificate, no passport and no legal rights. You're trapped in the country where you were born, but no document indicates that you even exist. The state doesn't recognize you, so you can't vote, you can't access education and you can't obtain formal employment.
This is a worst-case situation, but across the globe, between 12 and 15 million people live in various stages of statelessness, which means they lack citizenship in any country.
Some of the most notably stateless people include the Palestinians of the Middle East, the ethnic Tutsis of Central Africa, some Roma in Europe and Haitian children in the Dominican Republic.
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.
Martin Savidge hosted the following guests:
Bill Berkeley, previously an investigative reporter and editorial writer at The New York Times, teaches journalism at Columbia University. He is the author of The Graves Are Not Yet Full: Race, Tribe and Power in the Heart of Africa and a forthcoming book on statelessness.
Dawn Calabia is a senior adviser for Refugees International. She has 30 years of experience with foreign policy analysis, human rights issues and public advocacy. She has handled governmental and non-governmental relations in the U.S. and the Caribbean for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and has led numerous fact-finding missions to Central America, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa.
The show also includes audio clips from:
Julia Harrington, a senior legal officer at the Open Society Justice Initiative, who explains how her organization uses legal channels to advocate for stateless people. Julia has brought cases before the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, the European Court of Human Rights, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Adam Hussein, who was born stateless as a Nubian in Kenya, and is currently the project coordinator of the Open Society East Africa Initiative.