Concerns over national security and terrorism are escalating as the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as other nations, face the growing threat in the Middle East from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (“ISIS”), among others. Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United States and the United Kingdom developed legislative provisions to combat domestic threats of terrorism. Anti-terror legislation as a means to deal with such threats has allowed spying, indefinitely detaining, and killing those suspected of engaging in terrorist activities.
Recent “War on Terror” legislation in the United States and the United Kingdom has attempted to revoke the citizenship of nationals and render them stateless if they are suspected to have engaged in hostilities against the state. By rendering human beings stateless, these laws pose a serious threat to the international human right to a nationality and the right to not be rendered stateless. The legislative responses in the War on Terror have raised legal issues relating to national security concerns on the one hand but unnecessary inconsistencies with fundamental international human rights law protections against statelessness on the other. In 2003, 2011, and 2014, the legislature drafted three distinct immigration and national security pieces of legislation that, if enacted, would allow officials to revoke the citizenship of U.S. citizens and render them stateless. In May 2014, the U.K. Parliament passed similar legislation that permits the British Secretary of State for the Home Department (the “Home Secretary”) to strip British nationals of their citizenship, potentially leaving them stateless. The purpose of this Note is to establish that the statelessness provisions incorporated in both the recent U.S. and U.K. legislation are inconsistent with the fundamental international human rights protections against statelessness and to argue that the legislative goals can be fully achieved without rendering persons stateless.