Special Issue: Statelessness, Identity and Citizenship in West Africa

This special issue explores issuesof statelessness, identity and citizenship in West Africa. Bronwen Manby offers a comprehensive overview of some of the key issues that continue to shape discourses about nationality, statelessness and legal identity in the sub-region. In asking who is, and what it means, to be stateless and highlighting legal gaps that persists she offers some reflections on efforts to implement the Abidjan Declaration on the Eradication of Statelessness.

Signed in February 2015, by the 15 Member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) the Abidjan Declaration aims “to prevent and reduce statelessness by reforming constitutional, legislative and institutional regimes related to nationality”. It was followed in 2017, by the adoption the Banjul Regional Plan of Action, with specific commitments on the activities required to eradicate statelessness by 2024. 
These commitments and the regional approach is discussed in an interview with Ibrahim Mohammed and Abimbola Oyelohunnu of the ECOWAS Commission.

These broader pieces on regional dynamics are complemented by two articles focusing on experiences of citizenship at the country level. Mary Boatemaa Setrana discusses the legal and logistical obstacles facing second and third generation descendants of Fulani migrants looking to obtain citizenship in Ghana. Whilst Luisa Enria looks at the ways in which the Ebola outbreak in 2014-15 started a conversation about what it means to be a citizen in Sierra Leone and in doing so revealed the ways in which the social contract was being renegotiated
particularly in more remote, rural areas.

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