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Ambra Borne

Ambra Borne

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24 December 2018

Update: sharing our research results in Geneva, part 2

24 December 2018 | By | One Comment

This post is presented to you by Ambra

As seen in a previous post, I am in Geneva to share the information about the human rights situation in Cyprus, in particular the situation of children living in the northern Cyprus (TRNC), at an international level. The goal has been to make sure that the delegations of all countries have this information, but more importantly, that in January 2019, during the official UN review of Cyprus, the delegations will ask about certain human rights issues that we found.

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Usually countries under review will have a Pre-session, where civil society organisations can present the information directly to the delegations. However, the one specifically for Cyprus was cancelled due to a lack of speakers. Therefore, in order to distribute the information to the delegations throughout the week, I had to come up with alternative ways.

The first method was to directly approach the representatives of the delegations and explain why they needed to listen to what I had to say within 15 seconds. This usually occurred within the 10 minute window before and after other countries Pre-sessions. The representatives would have the name of their country in front of them and this would allow to know who I was speaking to and how to adapt my pitch.

In the 15 second pitch I would explain that the Cyprus Pre-Session has been cancelled so this would be one of the few chances to gather information. Usually, the representatives were interested and took the documents promising to look over them or pass them on to the appropriate person. Some were actually interested in the topic, asked questions and engaged in conversation. Only one had a problem with the topic and reports, and tried to lecture me on the political situation in Northern Cyprus and how what I was distributing was wrong!

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As a whole, this method definitely put my networking skills to the test! Within 10 minute windows I had to reach as many people as possible but still make sure to make a lasting impression so that the research results were known and hopefully used at a later stage. This was exceptionally difficult since I was very conscious as to not over step my role as ‘researcher’, and cross the line into activism.

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The second method used to distribute the information was to contact as many delegations as possible to request a short meeting and provide them with documents and a deeper explanation of the research results. The countries which responded positively to this were the following: the Netherlands, Australia, Slovakia, and Ireland. Each of these meetings led to very interesting and engaging conversations, which was a great way to discuss the research results in depth. One delegation commended us on the work, but most of all, all four delegations were thankful for the reports.

Most importantly, during these conversations, I was able to highlight key elements of the results as well as specific recommendations. A specific recommendation set forth was the idea of organising a bi-communal activity of research and reporting of children’s rights on the whole island of Cyprus. This proposed activity was very well received by all four delegations!

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At this point, it is difficult to say which of these two methods was the most effective, but the second one clearly allowed for more depth as well as more of a personal interaction, which I think will allow for a greater impact further on in the process. In any case, regardless of the method taken, all delegations made it clear that they cannot make promises as to whether they will make such a recommendation, or a recommendation on the topic at all. But the positive response to the reports and discussions make me hopeful that perhaps one might… We will have to wait until next month to find out!

Ambra Borne

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11 December 2018

Update: sharing our research results in Geneva

11 December 2018 | By | No Comments

The following blog entry is presented to you by Ambra

Hello All,

On Thursday 29th and Friday 30th of November, I had the opportunity to attend and participate in the United Nations Forum on Minority Rights which took place in Geneva. The theme and focus of this forum was the issue of statelessness.

During these two days, many international delegates, organisations, NGOs, and significant UN personnel contributed and gave noteworthy speeches and recommendations in regards to how best to tackle this issue of nationality. Although I learned new elements of the topic, I did feel this was a limited approach to the issue and that there was a lot of diplomatic talk with little real action. However, it did provide a platform to present the research findings on the child’s right to nationality in the TRNC and distribute a few copies of the report.

The forum included a specific discussion on minority women and children affected by statelessness, which I felt was the most personal and honest conversation of the conference. Within this scope, I was –unexpectedly- able to speak for two minutes about what we discovered on the child’s right to nationality in the TRNC! Due to the Republic of Cyprus delegation being present in the room and it being the most tangible of the issues to explain in such a short time, I focused on the issue of children of ‘mixed marriages’ not being able to obtain the Republic of Cyprus nationality. Unfortunately, I ran out of time before presenting the two recommendations to the state, however, a full copy of the speech was electronically communicated to the forum administrators and thus will be added to the record.

The Republic of Cyprus delegate quickly responded by referencing the political conflict with Turkey and claiming the TRNC was an occupied state, and thus children born there could not be stateless. Additionally, the delegate came to speak to me personally! She reiterated what she had said, stated that she had picked up a copy of the report, and wished to have a full version of the statement presented. It must be said that some delegates sitting nearby seemed impressed and intrigued by the exchange!

Minorities Forum Picture

To be completely honest, I could not quite believe what was happening until it was over. It was a very surreal moment to be summarising such a complicated matter to this group of people in such circumstances. As seen in the photo, it was a very formal atmosphere; there was a strict and formulaic procedure to be followed which I was not completely familiar with, and so by the end of it I was quite overwhelmed by it all.

But in any case, I am very proud to have had the opportunity to highlight some of the key points of the research and some of the nationality issues faced by people living in the TRNC, including children. It is now officially on record and, hopefully, now it cannot be ignored.

Next stop, the UPR process!

Ambra Borne

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13 June 2018

Latest case study: child’s right to nationality in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)

13 June 2018 | By | No Comments

Dear All,

After much secrecy and anticipation, we are very excited to share with you a case study that we have been working on for almost a year now; the child’s right to a nationality in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)!

Although extremely interesting, this case is far from simple and so I, Ambra, Marieke’s intern, will be walking you through the journey of this case and research project. With a team of 5 students and Marieke, this project has taken on three trips to the TRNC, a fundraising campaign, an upcoming report (and more – cannot disclose them yet!) since July 2017. Finally, we can share it with you!

Ali (one of our translators), Marieke and I

Ali (one of our translators), Marieke and I

The TRNC is an unrecognised state situated in the northern part of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Due to being only recognised by Turkey, the children’s right situation is unique, especially when it comes to the child’s right to nationality. How are children’s right protected? What does having TRNC nationality entail? What does the child’s right to nationality mean in the TRNC?

Before any of these questions can be answered, it is essential to glance at the history of the island of Cyprus. Although Cyprus has experienced many different authorities and sovereignties throughout centuries (Venetians, Ottoman, British), it has been home to two main populations: the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. Soon after its independence in 1960, and the creation of the Republic of Cyprus, tensions and unrest emerged between these populations which would eventually cause the island to be politically altered to this day.

With increasing nationalism and varying political ideologies, violence erupted between Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities which resulted in a military intervention from Turkey in 1974. Claiming to be for the protection of the Turkish Cypriots, this involvement has been, and continues to be, highly debated among the international community. Nevertheless, the TRNC state was declared itself as an independent state in 1983.

The divided island of Cyprus

The divided island of Cyprus

For the majority of the last 40 years, the Turkish Cypriot community has been isolated from the world due to a heavy economic embargo and only being recognised by Turkey. Peace negotiations have been attempted, and failed, many times over all these years. In 2003, the border between the TRNC and the Republic of Cyprus opened for the first time. The following year, the Republic of Cyprus became a member of the EU. This is still the current situation of the TRNC. There is still an economic embargo, the territory of northern Cyprus is still claimed by the Republic of Cyprus, the TRNC is still unrecognised.

Like many other unrecognised states, the discussion revolving around the TRNC is heavily politically charged and sensitive for many. As consequence, we decided to announce this research project once all the data had been collected, which is now! We (myself, Marieke and four other students) spent a total of nine weeks in the TRNC interviewing all different kinds of people; children, parents, teachers, politicians, international students, journalists, housewives, etc. all to answer the question: what is the meaning of the child’s right to a nationality in the TRNC?

This case study has included many ups and downs, challenges and opportunities, breakthroughs and setbacks. But, ultimately, it has provided an insight into children’s rights in an unrecognised state. More soon!

Crossing the border from the Republic of Cyprus to the TRNC

Crossing the border from the Republic of Cyprus to the TRNC

 

Two members of the team after a hard day at work!

Two members of the team after a hard day at work!