Pietro Franzina

Blood, Soil and Culture: Variations on the Idea of Belonging in Private International Law

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Jurisdiction; Conflicts of Laws; Nationality; Citizenship; Domicile; Habitual Residence.

The rules of private international law largely build on the ties that bind an individual to a given community. Different ties, including nationality, are used as connecting factors as regards, in particular, personal status and family relations. The paper looks at the different ways in which private international law shapes the idea of belonging for its own purposes. Having analysed the traditional opposition of domicile and nationality, the article illustrates the distinctive features of habitual residence and the reasons behind its current success. Habitual residence is meant to reflect (and facilitate) social integration, thereby serving the needs of changing societies faced with the accrued mobility of persons across borders. Habitual residence, it is contended, embodies an idea of membership and belonging that national legislators might want to take into consideration when reforming the law of nationality. Based as it is on social practice, habitual residence speaks of the 'here and now' of persons, not of their origin and their acquired legal status. It reflects the steps taken by the individual concerned to shape its social relationships, irrespective of such 'accidents' as birth and descent. It fosters the equal treatment of those taking part in social life in a particular community. While habitual residence and nationality are different in both nature and legal significance, the merits of the former notion are in fact close to the advantages that some present-day nationality reforms aim to achieve, namely where they treat the completion of education in a country as a gateway to acquiring the status of citizen of that country.

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