Political Science Now

Democratic Citizenship and Denationalization

Democratic Citizenship and Denationalization

by Pattti Tamara LenardUniversity of Ottawa

The power to denationalize citizens – that is, to revoke citizenship – is one that many states have historically claimed for themselves, but which has largely been in disuse in the last several decades. Recent terrorist events have, however, prompted scholars and political actors to reconsider the role that denationalization can and perhaps should play in democratic states, in particular with respect to its role in protecting national security and in supporting the global fight against terror more generally.  I argue that denationalization laws have no place in democratic states.  To understand why, I propose examining the foundations of the right of citizenship, which lie, I shall argue, in the very strong interests that individuals have in security of residence.  I use this formulation of the right to respond to two broad claims: 1) those that claim that it is justifiable to denationalize citizens who threaten to undermine the safety of citizens in a democratic state, and 2) those that claim that it is justifiable to denationalize dual citizens because they possess citizenship status in a second country that is also able to protect their rights.

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American Political Science ReviewFirst View / Published online: 07 November 2017, pp. 1-13