The question of the role of individuals in international law is closely bound up with the rise in the international protection of human rights. This theory maintains that individuals constitute only the subject-matter of intended legal regulation. Only states, and possibly international organizations, are subjects of the law. This has been a theory of limited value. The essence of international law has always been its ultimate concern for the human being and this was clearly manifest in the Natural Law origins of classical international law. The growth of positivists theories, particularly in the nineteenth century, obscured this and emphasized the centrality and even exclusivity of the state in this regard. Nevertheless, modern practice demonstrate that individuals have become increasingly recognized as participants and subjects of international law. The link between the state and the individual for international law purposes historically has been the concept of nationality. This was and still remains crucial, particularly in the spheres of jurisdiction and the international protection of the individual by the state. It is often noted that the claim of an individual against foreign state, for example, becomes subsumes under that of his national state. Each state has the capacity to determine who are to be its nationals and this is to be recognized by other states in so far as it is consistent with international law, although in other states to accept this nationality there has be a genuine connection between the state and the individual in question.
Since every state possess sovereignty and jurisdictional powers and since every state must consist of a collection of individual human beings, it is essential that a link between the two be legally established. The link connecting the state and the people it includes its territory is provided by the concept of nationality. By virtue of nationality, a person becomes entitled to series of rights ranging from obtaining a valid passport enabling travel abroad to being able to vote. Also, nationals may be able to undertake various jobs (for example in the diplomatic service) that a non- national may be barred from. Nationals are also entitled to the protection of their state and to various benefits prescribed under international law. On the other hand, states may not mistreat the nationals of other states nor, ordinarily, conscript them to into their armed forces, nor prosecute them from crimes committed outside the territory of the particular state. The concept of nationality is important since it determines the benefits to which persons may be entitled and the obligations which they must perform. The problem is that there is no logical, accepted definition of nationality in international law and only conflicting descriptions under the different municipal laws of states. Not only that, but the rights and duties attendant upon nationality vary from state to state. Generally, international law leaves the conditions for the grant of nationality to the domestic jurisdiction of states. Since the concept of nationality provides the link between the individual and the benefits of international law, it is worth pointing to some of the basic ideas associated with the concept, particularly with regard to its acquisition. In general, the two the most important principles upon which nationality is founded in states are
by descent from parents who are nationals (jus sanguinis)
by virtue of being born within the territory of the state (jus soli). It is commonly accepted that a child born of nationals of a particular state should be granted the nationality of the state by reason of descent. This idea is particularly utilized in continental European countries, for example in Switzerland and Germany, where the child will receive the nationality of his father, although many municipal systems do provide that an illegitimate child will take the nationals of his mother. On the...
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