Meaning and Importance

Nationality represents allegiance or legal relationship of people in regard to states.

Generally nationality is a question that needs to be settled by municipal law. That is, municipal law determines the criteria of nationality.

Nationality Decrees Issued in Tunis and Morocco, (1923) The PCIJ:

 The question whether a certain matter is or is not solely within the jurisdiction of a state is an essentially relative question; it depends upon the development of international relations. Thus, in the present state of international law, question of nationality are, in the opinion of this court, in principle within this reserved domain.

However, we will see later in the lecture that international law may also have things to say about nationality.

Criteria for Nationality:

  1. ius sanguinis (nationality on the basis of descent)
  2. ius soli (birth in the state territory)
  3. Naturalization


“Naturalization in the narrower sense may be defined as the grant of nationality to an alien by a formal act, on an application made for the specific purpose by the alien … It is generally recognised as a mode of acquiring nationality. The conditions to be complied with for the grant of naturalisation vary from country to country, but residence for a certain period of time would seem to be fairly universal requisite.”

  1. Equality between men and women, see Convention Against Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Convention on the Nationality of Married Women (1957).
  2. Safeguards against statelessness, see UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961).


  1. Nationality of claims in regard to diplomatic protection.
  2. Duties of states in relation to war and neutrality, in the forms of acts and omission of nationals that states must prevent, or punish.
  3. Treatment of foreign nationals (aliens) in a state territory.
  4. In regard to the exercise of jurisdiction.