Journal Article

Constitutional citizenship in South Africa

Jonathan Klaaren

in International Journal of Constitutional Law

Published on behalf of The New York University School of Law

Volume 8, issue 1, pages 94-110
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 1474-2640
Published online January 2010 | e-ISSN: 1474-2659 | DOI:
Constitutional citizenship in South Africa

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  • Constitutional and Administrative Law
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The South African concept of constitutional citizenship draws on national and African traditions in addition to its firm grounding in international law. Furthermore, as drafted, it crystallizes the potential to ground national citizenship within a global order. This potential remains apparent in the interpretations of constitutional citizenship offered, thus far, in South Africa's democracy in the doctrinal fields of equality and socioeconomic rights, diplomatic protection, and the right to vote. In each of those fields, the dominant interpretation is that of lawful residence citizenship, while the opposing view is that of republican citizenship. In equality and socioeconomic rights, the Constitutional Court has followed the relatively clear constitutional text and interpreted citizenship, essentially, to include those with permanent residence. In diplomatic protection, the Court has taken as its touchstone international practice but, nonetheless, has moved ahead of that criterion to articulate a doctrine with considerably more power than seen elsewhere. Finally, in a series of right-to-vote cases, with neither a clear text nor external practice on which to base itself, the Court has cautiously tilted in favor of a concept of citizenship consistent with a globalizing world.

Journal Article.  9062 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law ; UK Politics

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