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Investment Citizenship and Democracy in a Global Age: Towards a Democratic Interpretation of International Nationality Law (Samantha Besson)

The commodification of citizenship through the development of «investment citizenship» (IC) programs, i.e. the programs that offer the acquisition of domestic citizenship through financial contribution only, needs to be addressed, so the article argues, through stronger democracy-oriented interpretations of international nationality law (INL). Unlike other arguments against IC advanced in political theory, this article argues from within the legal practice itself. In contrast to other legal critiques of IC, however, it does not focus on domestic or European Union law, but on international law: it develops a new interpretation of INL that excludes granting nationality on monetary grounds only. In short, the article argues that contemporary INL is best interpreted in the light of the international principle of democracy (IPD), and the customary international law principle of individual equality, as a form of international pre-commitment to democratic citizenship. What this means is that the factual conditions for the justification of democracy need to be protected not only under the IPD, but also under INL. In turn, this implies that the conditions of naturalization encompass the sharing of equal and interdependent stakes, both positively so as to include those who share such stakes and negatively so as not to include those who do not.