Identity, Nationality and Citizenship

ARDD-Legal Aid

The concepts of identity, nationality, and citizenship recur often in our community, especially at present.. This is because we as Arabs, practice a historical personality known for its interest in genealogy, in contrast to other peoples and nations.Often, because we try to find enough excuses to justify our breakup that we find unjustifiable in our consciences.Therefore, we try to come up with any reason or excuse.Other times, we try to talk about it in the hopes of finding a new definition in our minds that are consistent and compatible with the modern concepts of state and society, which are now being imposed on us by virtue of dominance of the civilization that produced them.

What is identity? What is nationality? What is citizenship?


  • Identity is the awareness of cultural and social self.It is not fixed but is changeable depending on the change of reality.
  • Identity is a group of characteristics that distinguish a person from another person or a group from other groups.
  • Identity is privacy and personality. It is an individual's own culture, language, creed, civilization and history.
  • Identity is inseparable from the origin of an individual and his place of birth

Identity components:

These are the elements that create civilization, consciousness, and culture.They can be summarized as follows:

  • Geographic location
  • Common historical and national memory
  • Unified popular culture
  • Joint rights and duties
  • Joint economy

Of course, identity as a major or general concept differsfrom the concepts of philosophical and collective identity.According to the philosophical concept, identity is the self. It is all of what constitutes human personality including feelings, emotions,values, opinions, attitudes, and behavior. It also includes all that distinguishes a person from other people. Ericsson defined personal identity, or self, as “the self-awareness which is important for the continuity of personal ideology and philosophy of life that can guide and assist the individual to choose between multiple possibilities, as well as that can direct personal conduct."

Collective Identity:

The common traits and characteristics that distinguish a nation, a community or a certain country from others. It is cherished by its members and constitutes the core of their presence and distinctive personality.

Thus, identity is a human, historic, general, and comprehensiveconceptbased on prior existence of the modern concepts of nationality and citizenship that are related to the modern form of state. It is a concept focused basically on human membership to a certain culture, creed, and civilization withlanguage, social values, geographical and historicalcomponents..


Nationality concept:

  • Nationality generally refers to the legal and political association between individuals and the state, in which individuals become inhabitants of the state
  • The International Court of Justice has defined nationality as a legal relationship based on the social association and solidarity in living with interests and passions.

Nationality pillars:

From the general definition of nationality, it is clear that it is based on three pillars:

  1. The state: it is the only authority entitled to establish this right and grant it to an individual who lives within its territory and subject to its authority.
  2. The individual: nationality can only be granted to natural persons because they constitute the element of the people in the state.
  3. The legal and political bond between the state and the individuals: upon this bond, all the rights guaranteed by law for individuals and defined for them under the right to enjoy them as well as all mutual obligations and duties between them and the state they enjoy its nationality are based.

Original and emergent natioanlity:

Nationality is based on two foundations; the original one is based upon a person being granted the nationalityupon his/her birth, and second is the grounds for citizenship.

Original foundations:

First of all, there is the right of blood between the person receiving the nationality and another person who originally shares this same nationality. What is meant by this is that the person has the right to enjoy the nationality of the country his parents belong to upon his/ her birth and this is the reason it was called consanguinity nationality. Generally, the paternal kinship is considered, unless the father is unknown or does not carry a citizenship.

Secondly - the right of the region or birth; this means that a person who is born in a given region earns the nationality of this region, regardless of the nationality of his parents. It is based on the link that connects the individual to the region without regard to the origin of the newborns parents.

Third - transfiguration of sovereignty; such as that some parts get separated and form an independent political entity.This requires a change in the nationality of the population. The same applies to the occupation, annexation or integration between more than one country.

Fourth - birth and residence, under which a foreignergets granted the nationality of the state. In which he has spent a certain period of time in that state and has submitted a formal request showing his desire to earn citizenship.


This foundation is based on two parts: the will of the person applying for naturalization and the consent of the State that he wishes to acquire the nationalityfrom .Naturalization involvescertain conditions as stated by the state which will grant the nationality. It is often related to eligibilityand residence to ensure integration into society and physical integrity. There is also a case of mixed marriage which depends on the states and how they view mixed marriage, as some states take the principle of the unity of nationality in the family and some other states consider the principle of independence of the nationality, as they consider citizenship a human right.

International Standards for Human Rights with respect to nationality:

The state is the authority entitled to grant nationality and regulate its provisions in line with its supreme interests.Therefore,we cannot imagine a stateless person without civil and political rights. Thereby, it has been recognizedthat every human being has the right to enjoy certainas stipulated in the Geneva Convention 1930 as well as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in which nationality is a fundamental human right. The first paragraph of Article 15 states: "Everyone has the right to have a nationality," and to secure this right and apply it. The international community has passed the following rights about nationality:

  1. Everyone has the right to have a nationality from birth until his death, as the nationality is an inherent right of personality starting with birth and ending with death.
  2. The individual's right to change his nationality in deference to his will and to safeguard his/ her rights.
  3. The inadmissibility ofarbitrarytakeout of nationality from someone.This issue of stripping a person of his nationality has been restricted by conditions of political, national, social and ethicalconsiderations.
  4. Originally, a person may not have more than one nationality because it is incompatible with the proper common sense and contradicts with the interests of the same person.


The concept of citizenship is to belong to one community that is in general unitedbyunified social, political and cultural standard in a particular state.

According to the theory of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "Social Contract, "the citizen has certain human rights which he must be provided with." Simultaneously, he carries a range of social responsibilities that need to be performed. The term "active citizen" stems from the term citizenship,which is an individual who participates in raising the cultural level of society through formal action to which he belongs, or through volunteer work. Given the importance of the term citizenship, many states now recognize it and highlight the rights that must be owned by citizens, as well as the responsibilities that citizens must perform to the well of the community, in addition to establishing the value of the effective citizen in the hearts of learners.

Legally, the term citizenship indicates the existence of a link between the individual and the state.Under international law, citizenship is synonymous with the term nationality, although it may have different meanings in accordance with national law. Thus, the person who does not have a certain citizenship in any country is considered stateless.

What is citizenship?

Citizenship, in fact, is not a legal status as much as social one.The term citizenship is a contemporaryterm with old meanings. It means fulland equal membership among all individuals in the community, including the consequent rights and obligations. In the sense that all the people who live on the land home are equal without discrimination based on arbitrary criteria such as religion, sex, color, race or financial level or political affiliation.

Accordingly, carrying a certain citizenship means a series of rights and duties focused onvalues. The most important of which are:

First - equality: it is reflected in several rights; education, nationality, equal treatment before law and the judiciary and familiarity on the homeland history.

Secondly - Freedom: it includes many rights such as freedom of belief, religious practice, the right to talk and debate freely, the right to protest or support the issue even if they conflict with the government, and the freedom to participate in conferences and meetings with the peaceful, social and politicalnature.

Thirdly - Participation: It includes many rights such as participation in the vote for election campaigns of all kinds, and to establish or participate in political parties, associations or any other bodies to serve the community within the limits of its interests, as well as the right to stand for election.


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