The Right to a Nationality in the East African Community

Published By UNNGOF |  December 16, 2015

“More than Half Africa’s countries thus provide – at least in law – for all children born on their soil to have a right to nationality  from the day of their birth and can claim it at the age of majority.”

On the 26th of November 2016, the East African Civil Society Organisations Forum (EACSOF), Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) in partnership with Open Society Foundation Africa Regional Office (AfRO) and International Refugee Rights is held a meeting on the theme, “Right to Nationality” at the East Africa Hotel, Arusha Tanzania.

The meeting was organized to discuss the challenges to the Right to a Nationality in Africa, Statelessness in Africa, and the urgent need for a protocol on citizenship in Africa since currently the majority of African Union member states citizenship laws are inadequate and subjected to pervasive discrimination, because they do not guarantee the right to a nationality for hundreds of millions of Africans – most of whom are women and children. It was also an opportunity to raise the issues on the margins of the EAC summit being held in Arusha, Tanzania.

Speakers included Jeggan Grey-Johnson of AfRO/OSF; Olabisi Dare of AU Political Affairs Division; Stephen Niyonzima, EAC; June Munala, Senior Regional Protection Officer, Statelessness, UNHCR; Elizabeth Ampairwe of EASSI Uganda; Dismas Ankunda, Atrocities Watch Africa; Olivia Bueno, Director, International Refugee Rights Initiative; Don Deya of PALU; Agnes Ebo’o of CGI; and Ibrahima Kane of AU Advocacy, AfRO OSF. It was attended by about 40 participants from around Africa.

The full day was dedicated to focused discussions on citizenship issues, gender and freedom of movement, refugees, internally displaced persons, regional integration and institutional intervention. There were also reflections on the EAC gender protocol and assessed the gaps in regards to contradictions on the right to a nationality for women and children in the region. The concept of accelerated regional integration agenda, which is hampered by policies of exclusion at the regional level, was also discussed. This meeting also accorded CSOs the opportunity to share information on the recent findings and recommendations of the continental study, as well as reflect on the effort to advocate/Campaign for the protocol on the rights to a nationality in Africa.

The book, “The Civil Society Guide to Regional Economic Communities in Africa” was also launched at a cocktail event to close the meeting.