By Alex Neve, Amnesty International Canada’s Secretary General. Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeveAmnesty.
Most of us never give it a second thought; our nationality. We were born with it or may have gained a second or third nationality by moving to another country, through our ancestry or by marriage. We are usually proud of it. We enjoy, need and may boast about it when we travel. But we don’t often think about what it would be like not to have it or to lose it.
Nationality is fundamental. It provides our identity in both a legal and cultural sense. It is also the source of so many other rights: to vote, to participate and serve in government, to travel freely; and to be able to access education, medical care and employment. It establishes that there is a government to whom we can turn for support and protection. It is essential. That is why the right to a nationality is enshrined in article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.