Right to a Nationality


The right to nationality is a fundamental human right recognized and protected by various international instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), among others.

The right to nationality encompasses several key aspects:

Recognition as a National

Every individual has the right to acquire and retain a nationality. Nationality grants individuals legal recognition and affiliation with a particular country, entitling them to rights and protections under the laws of that nation.

Prevention of Statelessness

States are obligated to ensure that their laws and practices do not result in statelessness. Statelessness occurs when an individual is not considered a national by any country, leaving them without the protection and rights associated with nationality. The right to nationality aims to prevent statelessness and provide individuals with legal recognition and citizenship.


The right to nationality should be exercised without discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.

Rights and Benefits

Nationality is not just about legal recognition but also entails access to various rights and benefits associated with citizenship, including the right to reside in a country, access to education, healthcare, employment, social services, and the right to participate in public life.

While the CCPR does not explicitly outline the right to nationality in the same way as some other human rights treaties do, such as the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness or the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the principle of the right to nationality is inherent in the broader context of the protection of human rights and non-discrimination.

The right to nationality is crucial in safeguarding individuals’ legal identity, ensuring their access to fundamental rights and services, and preventing situations where individuals are left vulnerable due to lack of legal recognition or statelessness. International human rights law encourages states to adopt measures to prevent statelessness and to facilitate the acquisition or confirmation of nationality for those at risk of statelessness.

Constitution of Pakistan

Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 provides the framework and fundamentals for the citizenship rights. The Pakistani Citizenship Act, 1951, incorporates the principle of jus soli which means every person born in Pakistan including Sindh after the commencement of the Act, is entitled to citizenship. Similarly, a person born outside Pakistan after the commencement of the Citizenship Act, 1951, is also considered a citizen of Pakistan by birth if his or her father is a citizen of Pakistan at the time of his or her birth. In addition to this, the Act also provides for the acquisition and loss of citizenship by naturalization, registration, and deprivation. It lays down the qualifications and requirements for becoming a citizen of Pakistan through naturalization or registration.

Role of NADRA

The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) is responsible for issuing national identity cards and maintaining a database of citizens. NADRA also conducts verification and registration of citizens, including the issuance of birth certificates, which are necessary for claiming nationality.

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