The European Convention and the Relative Rights of Resident Aliens
Title: The European Convention and the Relative Rights of Resident Aliens
Citation: European Law Journal, 1999, 5, 1, 4-22
By virtue of conceptual abstraction, the notion of nationality plays a pivotal role in liberal democracies, governing distinctions in the allocation of ‘absolute’ and ‘relative’ rights, and determining that while national citizens, as full member of a sovereign political community, enjoy both human and political/social rights, resident aliens are excluded from the scope of these latter, community-related, rights. Further, The European Convention upon Human Rights appears to countenance this dichotomy, allowing sovereign states to restrict the political activity of aliens. This paper nonetheless argues that such a distinction undermines the democratic imperative upon which liberal constitutional states are founded. A ‘social integration thesis,’ holding that individuals should enjoy, as a fundamental right, the possibility fully to develop their personalities though establishing and pursuing secure social contacts, as well as interpreting those contacts in the light of prevailing cultural perceptions, not only raises the right of stable residence to one of most fundamental attaching to the human condition, but also indicates that political rights—a mere extension of self-expression and self-fulfilment within civil society—should be recast as a universal entitlement. Article Three of the First Protocol ECHR may be construed in line with the social integration thesis, and consequently, in the matter of the definition of the members of the national community, the political sovereignty of the Nation State must be limited.
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