Article 15

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

I have to admit, I don’t feel as strongly about this one as I do others. Maybe it is because, though I love this country and would defend it, I don’t think it would ever be accurate to qualify that love as patriotism. So much harm has been done in the name of national identity. Whether it is states going to war with one another or natives labeling immigrants as outsiders, nationalism is a brutal ideology and frankly a cognitively lazy one too. Anything that might encourage that, no matter how well intended, is going to leave an unpleasant taste in my mouth.

I see people hanging on to hurts generations removed from their current circumstances to keep cycles of hate and suffering moving. I see people willing to die for other people’s benefit, egged on by a sense of identity that those provocateurs do not honestly care about. I see people ignoring the flaws in their own society because to acknowledge them would be to somehow sully their shining image of that society. I see all these things, and I wonder what good can come from the idea of nationality.

Then I think of those at the absolute bottom of our great, global community. For some people, that sense of identity is all they have. Obviously from the statements above I understand that this sense of identity can be abused. I also understand, however, that for some people, that tenuous belief that you belong to something bigger than yourself, that you have a family that extends beyond your home is important. That to have that taken away from you is painful and often done for the cruelest of reasons.

There is also the not insignificant fact that what services you receive from a state depend on whether or not you are a citizen. This becomes especially important in the poorest countries with a welfare system. If you are denied your nationality, you may be deprived of your ability to survive. Which I suppose is the main concern of the authors of this Article. Still, I will dream of a day when all are taken care of regardless of where they are born, and when nationality is a quaint little relic of a more primitive age.


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