While political theorists have recently paid a great deal of attention to the question of whether states have a moral duty to grant citizenship to non-citizen residents, this paper examines the normative issues associated with the state’s withdrawal of citizenship. The paper focuses on whether the practice of denationalisation, as a punishment for certain types of behaviour (e.g. disloyalty) or to protect the vital interests of the state (against terrorists, for example), can be compatible with liberal principles. The ethical issues raised by denationalisation have not been explored in great depth hitherto, despite that fact that citizenship stripping (in the form of banishment) was endorsed by many of liberalism’s foundational thinkers, including Kant, Montesquieu, Vattel and Beccaria. More recently, denationalisation powers have emerged as a controversial political issue in the UK, France, the US, and a number of other liberal states.

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Refugee Studies Centre

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