This policy brief analyses the different varieties of citizenship law, making use of rich comparative data from the Global Citizenship Observatory (GLOBALCIT) which covers citizenship laws in 175 states. The authors meassure how much scope they leave to individual choice, and whether they meet basic standards of non-discrimination and the rule of law. This material compares the opportunities and implications of becoming a citizen in different contexts. The Global Citizenship Observatory (GLOBALCIT) provides reliable and comparative data on the content, causes and consequences of the laws that govern the acquisition and loss of citizenship and the franchise.. 

Some overall conclusions and recommendations

  • There is an urgent need for strengthening global minimum standards for citizenship laws and policies with the goal of reducing statelessness, combatting overt discrimination, and strengthening the rule of law.
  • Inclusive rules for citizenship at birth are ineffective where states lack the administrative capacity or deliberately do not register children belonging to ethnic, religious and racial minorities. 
  • International legal norms can be more easily developed at a regional level. Organizations such as the African Union, UNASUR and ASEAN should initiate intergovernmental processes aiming for regional conventions on nationality.
  • Democratic states must aim at higher standards than minimum human rights guarantees. Many European states have failed to make their citizenship accessible to large populations of immigrants.

About the authors

The authors of the Policy Brief, A Global Comparison (2018:9), are Professor Rainer Bauböck (European University Institute), Professor Maarten Vink (Maastricht University) and Iseult Honohan (University College Dublin).

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