Citizenship: The Privilege to Have Rights

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Sarah Havbæk McLeman-Hasselgaard
4. term, Applied Philosophy, Master (Master Programme)
Citizenship: The Privilege to Have Rights
The purpose of this dissertation is to examine whether or not it is morally legitimate for a democratic state to revoke citizenship, on grounds other than fraud or misrepresentation. As such, it is a normative approach applied to a current problem which exists in large parts of the world. Since the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11 2001, an increasing focus on terrorism has lead to an upsurge in citizenship revocation, and particularly to an increase in administrative revocation of citizenship, meaning revocation without the involvement of a court of law.
Citizenship has been viewed as a meta-right which secures all other rights, and as guarantee of protection, and of a certain degree of welfare. Revoking citizenship is a serious matter, and doing so outside of a court of law seems both incongruous with etichs and international law.
Viewing this practice as problematic and illogical, this dissertation asks: Is citizenship a Right or a Privilege, and which should it be?
This dissertation will examine the practice of citizenship revocation in Denmark, and in Great Britain, and will hold these as representations of citizenship revocation by and large. It will present insight into international laws, what constitutes a right and what constitutes a privilege, as according to Wesley Hohfeld, as well as three individual theories on the importance of citizenship.
Hannah Arendts theory on The Right to Have Rights cocnstitutes a historical and political view on the matter, while Audrey Macklins Citizenship revocation, The Privilege to Have Rights, and the Production of the Alien is legally informed. Joseph H. Carens The Etchics of Immigrations provides a moral and normative perspective.
This dissertation is primarily a normative discussion of what citizenship ought to be, and as such, it will present an analysis of whether citizenship constitutes a right, a discussion of the importance of the specific citizenship, an assessment of the effectiveness of international law, and an assessment of Danish and British practice. Since it secures other rights which would otherwise be reduced to privileges, it seems that citizenship is indeed a right, but that various governments have given themselves power over this right, enabling them to revoke it. This form of right is incongruent with the definitions used in this dissertation, and as such, it will be concluded that citizenship is a right, but an ill-functioning one. Further, it will be concluded that citizenship ought to be a right, in part because human rights have shown themselves to be an ineffective alternative, in part because citizenship secures rights that are not otherwise secure, such as membership in a state, the right to political participation, and the right to not be deported, and lastly in recognition of the fact that rights – and therefore citizenship and the rights that it secures - are not a matter of moral desert.
Publication date14 Sept 2020
Number of pages76
ID: 348933375