European Convention on Nationality

(ETS No. 166)

Open for signature by the member States of the Council of Europe and by the non-member States which have participated in its elaboration, in Strasbourg, on 6 November 1997.

Entry into force : 1 March 2000.

Summary of the treaty

This Convention embodies principles and rules applying to all aspects of nationality. It is designed to make acquisition of a new nationality and recovery of a former one easier, to ensure that nationality is lost only for good reason and cannot be arbitrarily withdrawn, to guarantee that the procedures governing applications for nationality are just, fair and open to appeal, and to regulate the situation of persons in danger of being left stateless as a result of state succession. It also covers multiple nationality, military obligations and co-operation between States parties.

The Council's new text represents a synthesis of recent thinking on this question in national and international law and is the first international text to do so. It reflects the demographic and democratic changes (in particular migration and state succession which have occurred in central and eastern Europe since 1989). Some states which have recently adopted new laws on nationality have already based their laws on the text.

Some of the essential principles behind the text are:

- prevention of statelessness;

- non-discrimination: in regulating questions of nationality, states must avoid all discrimination on grounds of sex, religion, race, colour, national or ethnic origin, etc.

- respect for the rights of persons habitually resident on the territories concerned.