Ethnicity


Ethnicity is one of the most difficult subjects to discuss objectively in our system. It is sometimes equated with race, and the prejudice and discrimination that often accompanies discussion of race, can also taint discussion of ethnicity. Maybe this is why ethnicity, and the right to reside in one’s homeland, is not a human right in the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights, while the right to a nationality, and not be deprived of that nationality, is.

But race and ethnicity are not the same thing, and ethnicity is one of the strongest links in extended human communities. It is a source of personal identity with a culture, a people and a land.

While the borders to most countries are closed (or heavily restricted) to most other countries, granting citizenship to those not of the ethnicity traditionally associated with a land should be done rarely, and all people should have citizenship to the land with which their ethnicity is historically associated (their ancestral homeland). This right should never be denied or people’s sense of who they are and where they are from is harmed.

People should be able to live with confidence that their right to live in their ancestral homeland is respected. Respecting this right enables the opening of borders to trade and tourism, to working visas and to indefinite residence of citizens from other ethnicities, without endangering the ancestral rights of native peoples.

The European Union’s experiment with open borders across the EU member countries, relies on comparatively equal economies and on the principle of citizenship based on ethnicity to give a strong sense of secure identity so that indefinite residence by any EU resident in any EU member country is a matter of choice.

Closed borders lead to denials of ethnicity and homeland. There is no right to ethnicity in the Declaration of Human Rights, and so there is less protection from nation states denying ethnic rights, most pointedly the right to residence in countries of ancestral origin.

The right to residence in a homeland should be protected no matter where people are born or what the residential choices of their recent forebears were.

The permanent right to residence in their homeland gives security to all people residing outside their homelands. Such security is critical when those not indigenous to their country of residence are discriminated against or rejected by the indigenous population. Then they must have recourse to return to their countries of ethnic origin.

It is hard to see how, at any point, people could or should be excluded from their rights to residency in their ethnic homeland while they still identify with that ethnicity.

Rootless people may not know their heritage or ancestry. Offspring can be lost, unaware of where, how and why their culture has arisen, their ways and understandings disconnected from place and history. It is important for people to know their roots. They should be recorded, preserved and respected.

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[Excerpt from The Common Purpose]

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