oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - The theory of citizenship: a reappraisal

Volume 18, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



During the time of the Apartheid government, the accommodation of blacks outside the national states in the constitutional structure of the Republic of South Africa accentuated the longstanding issue of citizenship. South African citizenship legislation which compelled blacks outside the national states to exercise their rights of citizenship within the national states while maintaining their South African nationality, was generally justified by an appeal to international law. In terms of the distinction sometimes drawn between nationality as a concept of international law and citizenship as a concept of municipal law, we learn that nationality was merely a formal indication of state membership without concomitant rights and obligations, whilst citizenship implies the individual's political participation and his enjoyment of political rights. The much-acclaimed freedom of a state to make its own arrangements concerning its own nationality and citizenship without interference from international law, explains, in terms of this argument, how South Africa can deny citizenship to the majority of the South African population yet invest them with nationality for purposes of international protection.

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