Citizenship Deprivation

Citizenship deprivation is on the rise. States are rolling back on citizenship rights, with the UK leading the way amongst Western democratic states. The Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion (ISI) called 2020-2022 the ‘years of action’ against citizenship deprivation. Citizenship deprivation has serious implications for rights and puts individuals at risk of statelessness.

In 2020-2021, Dr Rachel Pougnet worked in close collaboration with the European Network on Statelessness (ENS) in a ESRC funded project to further investigate the effect of citizenship deprivation on rights and statelessness. The ENS is a civil society alliance of over 150 organisations and individual experts in 41 countries committed to addressing statelessness in Europe. ENS is dedicated to working with stateless people in Europe to advocate for their rights and aims to reach its goals through law and policy development, awareness-raising, and capacity-building. The Human Rights Implementation Centre (HRIC), through the work of Dr Rachel Pougnet, partnered with ENS to raise awareness around the growing practice of citizenship deprivation in Europe. Together, the HRIC and ENS engaged in further research aimed at law and policy development, as well as capacity-building.

The core activities of this collaborative project included:

  • Using ENS’ Statelessness Index to raise awareness around the risks of statelessness posed by citizenship deprivation in Europe through the publication of a thematic briefing.
  • Organising a webinar on how to galvanise action across Europe to ensure deprivation or loss of nationality does not result in statelessness. This webinar was aimed at academics, civil society members, and practitioners. The full recording can be accessed here.
  • Developing ENS’ strategic litigation database by adding new cases on citizenship deprivation.
  • Pairing with other research partners in Europe to conduct research into the risks that citizenship deprivation poses to children’s rights, along with the refusal to repatriate so called ‘foreign terrorist fighters’ and their spouses in Syria and Iraq. Children who are stranded in camps in North-eastern Syria and Iraq are particularly at risk of statelessness and other gross violations to their human rights. The research analysed the law, policy, and practice of three European States (France, the Netherlands, and the UK) to better understand the risks of statelessness faced by these children. Three key risk factors were identified and published in a policy briefing: lack of civil documentation, barriers to establishing nationality through family links, and derivative deprivation of nationality.

In 2021-2022, postgraduate students from the University of Bristol contributed to the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion (ISI)’s years of actions against citizenship deprivation ( They worked under the supervision of Dr Rachel Pougnet to draft a report positioning citizenship deprivation within the UK’s counterterrorism framework.  

More information

For more information on this theme, please contact:

Rachel Pougnet
Senior Research Associate
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