University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law


Helena von Nagy

Publication Date

Winter 2023

First Page


Document Type



With the rise of ISIS came the return of banishment. Ministers for security, immigration, or justice in many European countries now may revoke individuals’ citizenships based on the suspicion of their involvement with ISIS. Despite the universality of human rights, citizenship plays a fundamental role in international human rights law and protections. It is the key legal connection between the individual and the human rights system. Appropriately, that human rights law protects against the arbitrary deprivation of citizenship. However, those same treaties empower States with the option to remove individuals’ citizenship if they act in ways prejudicial to the interests of the State. European standards are also much more deferential to States than to the individual. Even so, Danish, Dutch, and British policies violate those international laws and to demonstrate the risk of denationalization to the human rights of their citizens. With limited substantive and procedural protections in denationalization proceedings, banished from their home, suspected ISIS fighters and associated persons lose their “right to have rights. Instead of returning their citizens to take accountability for their actions or try to rehabilitate these fighters, States such as Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom brush these individuals under the proverbial rug. Stripping citizenship is not only an egregious violation of human rights, but also belongs to an antiquated vision of the world.