This paper offers a picture of the obligations existing under international and European law in respect of the loss of nationality. It describes international instruments including obligations in this field with direct relevancy for the loss of nationality of Member States of the European Union, but also obligations regarding loss of nationality in regional non-European treaties. Attention is given to two important judicial decisions of the European Court of Justice (Janko Rottmann) and the European Court of Human Rights (Genovese v Malta) regarding nationality. Special attention is devoted to Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which forbids the arbitrary deprivation of nationality. A survey is provided of possible sub-principles that can be derived from this rule. Finally, some observations are made on the burden of proof in cases of loss of nationality.
This paper was prepared to inaugurate the ILEC project (Involuntary Loss of European Citizenship: Exchanging Knowledge and Identifying Guidelines for Europe), which aims to establish a framework for debate on international norms on involuntary loss of nationality. ILEC is a research project co-funded by the European Commission’s DG Justice, Citizenship and Fundamental Rights For more information visit: www.ilecproject.eu
The author is René de Groot, Professor of Comparative Law and Private International Law in Maastricht, Aruba and Hasselt.