Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Stateless Americans and Renunciants

So close ...
Photo by وسام زقوت
On the subject of renouncing one's citizenship, I previously reported that I only knew of two individuals who've renounced US citizenship without having another citizenship, making them "stateless". Being stateless, in this context, means "not having a legal nationality." There are many ways in which one can become stateless, with Palestinians being the most prominent example. Other examples stem from people being forced out of their country due to war, or being denied recognition by their home country. Sadly, the problem of statelessness is widespread, with an estimated 12 million people stateless around the world.

There have been two UN conventions to reduce statelessness, one in 1954 and another in 1961. The basic idea of them is to assert that everyone has a right to a nationality, everyone should be allowed to change their nationality and no one should be arbitrarily denied a nationality. The United States, ever so helpful in these matters, has refused to sign either of these conventions. Of course, the US hasn't ratified the Convention on Rights of the Child or CEDAW (Convention to End All forms of Discrimination Against Women), so why would they sign an anti-statelessness convention?

Getting back to my original topic, I originally only knew of two voluntarily stateless Americans. As it turns out, there are more than I thought.

The above list is just a few I can find. There are certainly more out there.

Here's a somewhat misleading video about renunciation. It also has Mike Gogulski discussing his motivations for becoming stateless.

And the motivation for this post? It turns out that as of April of 2013, the number of Americans renouncing their citizenship has increased by 78% over last year. Why? As Victoria Ferauge points out, nobody in the US seems to care about the impact their laws have on Americans abroad. Given that a bill that merely asks the government to look this issue has repeatedly died in committee, I don't think this is going to change any time soon.

In a Reddit discussion regarding the above video, Gogulski wrote the following:
I dream of a day when the word "citizen" has become as anachronistic and as abhorrent as the word "slave".