Solving statelessness: Interpreting the right to nationality

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    This article examines what is necessary to solve statelessness in a sustainable manner that enhances the enjoyment of human rights. It does so by interpreting the right to nationality using three lenses through which the meaning of a response to statelessness can be better understood. It draws on human rights standards and democratic principles to comment on the traditional understanding of nationality, which gives States discretion over granting and withholding nationality. The three lenses used in this article to explore the concept of nationality are the idea of the right to be a citizen, that of one’s ‘‘own country’’, and the right to an ‘‘effective’’ nationality. These three lenses present complementary views of what nationality means and how it relates to solving
    statelessness. Taken together they make clear that any real solution to statelessness requires more than the acquisition of ‘‘a’’ nationality. If we are to solve statelessness, we need to move beyond a State-centric understanding of the right to nationality to an understanding of nationality as the content of a human right to citizenship. What is needed is a nationality that represents a meaningful connection between a person and a State that enables the person involved to actively enjoy the rights attached to a nationality.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)158-175
    Number of pages18
    JournalNetherlands Quarterly of Human Rights
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


    • nationality
    • citizenship
    • statelessness
    • genuine connection
    • own country
    • effective nationality


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