Column ‘The predicament of double nationality’, by Luigi Corrias

by Admin on June 23, 2017

Luigi Corrias is assistant professor of legal philosophy at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Double nationality seems to be the focus of public attention, at least in The Netherlands. One might think of discussions whether the Turkish Dutch who voted in favor of Erdogan in the recent referendum on the increase of the powers of the Turkish president are well-integrated in Dutch society, whether a person with both Moroccan and Dutch nationality can be the Speaker of the House of Representatives, whether the Queen of The Netherlands should be allowed to keep her Argentinian citizenship.

Indirectly, the question of double nationality was also raised by the recent passing of a bill making it possible to deprive people who have travelled to Syria in order to fight for ISIS of Dutch nationality. With this bill, The Netherlands has joined a number of Western democracies where such a measure already exists. While people with only one nationality are protected from losing it by the 1961 Convention on the reduction of statelessness, those with (at least) two nationalities can lose their Dutch citizenship. Regarding the last measure, the possibility to strip (alleged) ISIS combatants of their Dutch citizenship, experts in migration and nationality law have pointed to the discriminatory nature of the law and the tension between this measure and international law and the idea of the rule of law.

Based on these discussions double nationality might seem highly problematic. These problems seem, or so the argument goes, to be connected primarily with an alleged lack of loyalty or bad integration, or even the threat people with a double nationality pose to Dutch security. What is striking about these arguments is that they seldom seem to be supported by empirical evidence, while the consequences of losing Dutch nationality are serious, in legal, political and social respect. But what is perhaps most dubious is that people with a double nationality are increasingly expected to prove their loyalty and allegiance to the Dutch state and Dutch society. Ultimately, for people with double nationality the burden of proof seems to be reversed: whether or not they belong here remains to be justified and they themselves are to do the justifying.

This is all the more problematic, since people with double nationality very often neither chose it, nor are they able to get rid of it (this is the case, e.g., for Argentinian and Moroccan citizenship). The current discussions on double nationality – so centered on an alleged lack of loyalty, the reproach of being badly integrated in Dutch society and the reversal of the burden of proof – thus send the message that they never really belong in a country which they always considered home, while they are asked to return to a homeland where they have never been. Such is the predicament of double nationality.

Deze post is ook beschikbaar in: Dutch

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