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Birthright Citizenship

Box 1. Modes of acquisition of citizenship: birthright-based modes

Modes of acquisition


Birthright-based modes of acquisition by descent

A 01 A 04

A 02

Birthright-based modes of acquisition by birth in the territory

A 03a A 03b A 05

Target groups

Persons born to citizens of C1 (ius sanguinis) Persons born to citizens of C1 whose descent is established by recognition or judicial establishment of maternity/paternity (establishment of family relationship) Persons born in C1 who acquire citizenship of C1 at birth irrespective of the citizenship of their parents (except those classified under A3) (ius soli at birth) Children found in C1 of unknown parentage (foundlings) Children born in C1 who would otherwise be stateless Persons born in C1 who acquire citizenship of C1 after birth irrespective of their parents’ citizenship (except those classified under A3) (ius soli after birth)

2 Ius sanguinis (A01)

Compared to ius soli provisions and naturalisation regulations, ius sanguinis provisions have received relatively little attention in political debates as well as in the academic literature (but see Joppke 2005 for a notable exception). However, this does not mean that states have made no changes since the 1980s in provisions concerning the descent-based attribution of citizenship. On the contrary, we distinguish two sets of main changes. First, we can identify the completion of equal treatment of men and women within citizenship law, particularly with regard to the possibility for both men and women to pass on their citizenship to (adopted) children born in or out of wedlock. This is essentially a trend of extending ius sanguinis. Second, there is the facilitation of citizenship acquisition by the offspring of emigrants, particularly by means of the introduction of citizenship ´recovery´ provisions. This is also essentially a trend of extending ius sanguinis, though some limiting counter-movements also take place, particularly with regard to the application of ius sanguinis for persons born abroad.

2.1 Ius sanguinis a patre et a matre

In line with the European Convention on Nationality, “each State Party shall provide in its internal law for its nationality to be acquired ex lege by a child, one of whose parents possesses at the time of the child’s birth the nationality of that State Party” (ECN 6(1)). In this section we discuss the transmission of citizenship by descent (ius sanguinis), via the mother (a matre) and the father (a patre).

At the start of the 1980s most European states had replaced the unitary system—where the wife follows the citizenship of the husband—by a dualistic system where the wife can have another citizenship than that of the husband, and marriage does not automatically lead to either the acquisition or the loss of citizenship (De Groot 2003: 268–72; cf. Dutoit 1973). However, while most European countries adapted their citizenship provisions in the 1950s and 1960s, it took Portugal (1981), Greece (1984), Belgium (1985) and Luxembourg (1986) until the 1980s to abolish the automatic loss of citizenship for women marrying a foreign man.

RSCAS/EUDO-CIT-Comp. 2010/8 - © 2010 Authors


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