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Global Patterns and Trends in Citizenship Policies. Birthright, Naturalisation and e-Citizenship

27 November 2017 all-day Europe/Rome Timezone
Theatre, Badia Fiesolana
Via della Badia dei Roccettini
9, 50014 San Domenico, Fiesole FI
Valentina Bettin

Citizenship laws and policies form a resilient core of state sovereignty. International legal norms have emerged to avoid conflicts between states and to secure basic human rights in matters of nationality law. Yet states have remained largely free to choose their own rules for determining who are their citizens by birth or naturalisation and under which conditions citizenship can be lost through renunciation or withdrawal. Even within the European Union, whose supranational citizenship is derived from Member State nationality, there has been no effort to harmonize national citizenship laws. 

Yet state sovereignty in this matter does not mean that state policies are not influenced by what other states are doing and by migration flows across international borders. The comparative literature on citizenship has so far focused nearly exclusively on domestic drivers of citizenship policy and reform, including historic conditions for nation-building and the domestic politics of citizenship in which left-wing and right-wing parties have contrasting ideological commitments and are incentivized by different electoral interests. While domestic factors clearly matter, they are insufficient for understanding how citizenship policies evolve over time. Historical institutionalist explanations have also led to an unwarranted assumption that citizenship regimes can be compared as internally coherent national models. Such models are based on either ethnic or civic normative conceptions of membership and can be described by a few selected indicators, such as the predominance of ius sanguinis or ius soli provisions. The strong focus on domestic explanations for national citizenship models can be regarded as a manifestation of methodological nationalism in the social sciences, but it is also due to a lack of available data that would allow systematically comparing particular regulations of the acquisition and loss of citizenship across large numbers of states.

GLOBALCIT, the successor of EUDO Citizenship since 2017, addresses the need to understand the varieties of citizenship laws and policies in a globalised world. It relies on a large international network of country experts who write country reports, collect legal documents and provide input for our comparative databases. GLOBALCIT publishes qualitative databases on modes of acquisition and loss of citizenship with nearly fully global coverage, as well as quantitative indicators on citizenship status and electoral rights. Our updated and expanded CITLAW datasets cover nearly all modes of citizenship acquisition and loss in 42 European countries for 2011 and 2016; our 2016 CITLAW birthright dataset provides comparative and user-friendly data on the acquisition of citizenship at birth.

Celebrating our continuous geographical and thematic expansion, discussing new findings and insights, and evolving research agendas, this workshop explores (a) patterns of variation and clustering among countries with regard to their citizenship regimes and (b) global trends in citizenship reform and diffusion processes of citizenship policies. It focuses on birthright, naturalisation and e-citizenship. Papers will offer explanatory hypotheses, interpretive accounts or normative evaluations about convergence, domestic policy reforms and progressive development of international legal norms in matters of nationality law.