New Rules on Dual Nationality for a Democratizing Globe: Between Rejection and Embrace

Posted: 3 Jan 2001  

David A. Martin

University of Virginia School of Law


Debate over dual nationality has increased in both Europe and North America in recent years. International law's classic opposition to dual nationality has softened in some governmental quarters, including Mexico's 1998 constitutional amendment to permit and even foster dual nationality on the part of its expatriates, and Germany's more modest amendments to allow dual citizenship for some second-generation immigrant children born there. Academic writing has tended to support this trend, and even to endorse a much stronger embrace of dual nationality, but some writers still oppose the practice vehemently. This article examines the arguments of both camps, finding sympathy with the endorser's case but emphasizing limiting principles and qualifications often overlooked by the proponents. In this spirit it examines the following elements in the endorsers' case: globalization; peace; the complexity of loyalties, identities and national interests; human rights; democratization. It also considers other relevant factors: sentiments of attachment (loyalty, patriotism, solidarity); the equality that has been a hallmark of citizenship; the right to expatriate; oath and ceremony.

The final section draws on the preceding analysis to sketch out a tentative set of new rules for a globe that is more accepting of dual nationality. States should continue this trend of acceptance as long as the person or family maintains a genuine link with the country of nationality, but should not necessarily promote it. Expatriation (an individual's choice to reject dual nationality) is a right and should not be obstructed. Obligations and rights should relate primarily to the country of residence, and, most controversially, a dual national should vote only once in any given electoral cycle, ordinarily in the country of residence. Finally, those who assume high office should surrender other nationalities.

Suggested Citation

Martin, David A., New Rules on Dual Nationality for a Democratizing Globe: Between Rejection and Embrace. Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, Vol. 14, No. 1, 1999. Available at SSRN:

David A. Martin (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
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434-924-7536 (Fax)

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