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Recent publications on citizenship laws and policies


Inclusive Democracy: Franchise Limitations on Non-Resident Citizens as an Unjust Restriction of Rights under the European Convention on Human Rights

By Julie Fraser, Utrecht Journal of International and European Law, April 2017

The Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG) advises parties in peace negotiations, on drafting post-conflict constitutions, and assists in prosecuting war criminals. As part of this work, PILPG assists States in establishing and implementing electoral systems that meet international standards for democratic elections, and undertakes election monitoring. Free and fair elections are crucial for the legitimacy of democratic States and are protected by human rights law. The present article focuses on the issue of the franchise and on the restrictions permitted under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Specifically, this article addresses franchise restrictions on non-resident citizens across ECHR member States. Setting out the protections for the franchise in Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 ECHR, this article analyses the permissible limitations on those rights according to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The article presents a comparative analysis of other voting rights cases, such as the limitations on prisoners’ franchise. After considering whether residency-based limitations pursue legitimate and proportionate aims, it questions whether blanket restrictions disenfranchising non-resident citizens should be permissible today. The article concludes by advocating the importance of an inclusive franchise for the legitimacy of democratic systems as well as the protection of individual rights, and inviting the ECtHR to revisit its jurisprudence on this topic. 

Full text at the Journal's website.


Prejudice in Naturalization Decisions: Theory and Evidence

By Dragan Ilić,WWZ Working Paper, No. 2016/04

Immigrant groups that are marginalized in their host countries are dispropor- tionately more likely to have their citizenship applications rejected. It is not readily obvious whether this disparity is due to prejudice on the part of decisionmakers or due to applicant di§erences in meeting naturalization standards. To address this question, I develop a simple model of a council deciding whether to grant applicants citizenship. The model implies an empirical test for relative prejudice using average applicant group rejection rates. Using Switzerland as a case study, I apply the test to newly collected data from six large municipalities. In Öve municipalities, the test cannot reject the hypothesis of no relative prejudice with respect to country of origin. The rejection pattern of the sixth municipality is consistent with prejudice. The model illustrates that the underlying mechanism in the decisionmaking process has bearing on the inference of prejudice from empirical data.

Full text here.



Special Issue: Who Decides? Democracy, Power and the Local Franchise in Cities of Immigration

By Triadafilos Triadafilopoulos (ed.), Journal of International Migration and Integration, February 2015

This special issue deals with the question of local franchise in countries and cities of immigration. It explores issues such as non-citizen voting practices through cross-country comparisons and case studies of Greece, Sweden. the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It also offers normative insights in voting rights of non-citizen populations.

Access on the journal’s website.





Which policies matter? Explaining naturalisation rates using disaggregated policy data

By Jeremias Stadlmair, OZP – Austrian Journal of Political Science, 2017

Despite similar experiences of immigration, the proportion of immigrants taking up the citizenship of their country of residence varies substantially in Western European countries. While previous research concluded that citizenship policies in general are relevant for explaining these differences, this paper provides a fine-grained analysis of which policy dimensions bear greater or lesser importance for naturalisation outcomes. Drawing on citizenship policy data from nine EU countries for the period 1995 to 2014 and using time-series cross-section regression models, the study identifies economic requirements, ius soli, and dual citizenship provisions as main drivers for differences in naturalisation rates.

Read full text here.



Born in the Americas. The Promise and Practice of Nationality Laws in Brazil, Chile, and Colombia

By Open Society Foundations, 2017

Like most countries in the Americas, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia practice jus soli citizenship, in which nationality is generally granted to those born in the country’s territory. In theory, this is the simplest and most straightforward form of citizenship, and the most likely to prevent statelessness. But in practice, many people in Brazil, Chile, and Colombia struggle to obtain proof of citizenship and fully enjoy their citizenship rights, and some are left stateless. Born in the Americas looks closely at the strengths and weaknesses of the three countries’ citizenship regimes, finding a significant gap between the promise of jus soli citizenship and its implementation on the ground. Further, the report finds that this disparity most often affects indigenous peoples, members of ethnic minority groups, migrants, internally displaced persons, and children. Based on a comprehensive review and analysis of the history, laws, and practices of the three countries, Born in the Americas analyses case law, and offers detailed recommendations to improve current practices. The report argues that Brazil, Chile, and Colombia―and other countries in the region―must do more to ensure that the right to citizenship can be realized in practice for all people born in the Americas.

Read full report here.