As various countries become overwhelmed and increasingly fractious with the refugee crisis, could we not look to the United Nations for a solution? Is it perhaps time to consider an updated version of the “Nansen Passport”?
Fridtjof Nansen set about putting this structure in place in 1921 following the flight from Communism under Lenin, when many hundreds of thousands fled Russia. Too numerous and onerous a burden for any one country, or even the Red Cross to manage, responsibility was given to the League of Nations.
It was a simple concept, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Nansen, as the first High Commissioner for Refugees, for the first time established the position of the refugee to allow freedom of movement. The “passport” was issued by the country of residence as a certificate of identity and was a travel document. It did not confer nationality; it simply gave the holder a title to existence. This meant that for the first time the concept of statelessness was enshrined by Law. It removed the barriers to crossing borders, and eased the plight of multitudes.
Fifty-four countries eventually recognised this document.
Stravinsky, Chagall, Pavlova and Rachmaninoff were all holders of the Nansen Passport.
Surely, today, we could come to some similar agreement?
Those in despair need assistance: not barricades.
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE CITATION:“Especially his work for the repatriation of the prisoners of war, his work for the Russian refugees, his work to bring succour to millions of Russians afflicted by famine, and finally his present work for the refugees in Asia Minor and Thrace. Even although this work has only been accomplished during the last few years, it covers such a range, and is of such importance that the Nobel Committee wish to recognise it.”
Reference:NANSEN:The Explorer as Hero,Roland Huntford,1997. ISBN 0 7156 2740 6 Hbk