A Rebuttal To Seward Cooper Dual Citizenship Analysis

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The Editor,

According to Cllr. Seward Cooper Liberia´s restricted citizenship law is “race-based” and “no requirement exists for renunciation of Liberian citizenship where both parents at the time of the person’s birth are or were Liberian citizens” but the first clause of Article 28 of the Liberian Constitution stipulates that:



Any person, at least one of whose parents was a citizen of Liberia at the time of the Person’s birth, shall be a citizen of Liberia; provided that any such person shall upon reaching maturity renounce  any other citizenship acquired  by virtue of one parent being a citizen of another country.

Hence, we advance this rebuttal against Cllr. Cooper´s analysis via this medium that he is seriously wrong. For an objective mind shall understand and agree that there exists a requirement for renunciation of Liberian citizenship detailed in the conditional legal language of the second clause of Article 28 of the Liberian Constitution.

It says “provided that any such person shall upon reaching maturity renounce any other citizenship acquired  by virtue of one parent being a citizen of another country.” Cllr. Cooper seems to fully understand that the phrases “at least one parent” and “both parents” are simply the minimum requirement and the maximum requirement thereto respectively. We hope compatriot Cooper shall sooner or later grasp that understanding.

With regards to compatriot Cooper´s claim that Liberia´s restricted citizenship law is “race-based”, we categorically rebut such a description. For the fact of the matter is that analyzing the letter and spirit of the Preamble of the Liberian Constitution, international law, domestic laws of many nations, and the major schools of legal thought, not to talk about the principles of law, our restricted citizenship law is not race-based but rather is culture-desirability-based prompted by “the many experiences during the course of our national existence”, as is the case with many nations across the globe.

But even if anyone would  conceptualize such laws as “race-based,” or culture-desirability-based as are the cases in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bangladesh, and tacitly or expressly enshrined in nationality laws relating to “first”, “second”, and “third” “countries” within the comity and community of nations, absolutely none of such laws are anathema to international law nor the three major schools of legal thought . Natural Law (universal ethics), Legal Realism (circumstances), Positivist School (written laws). And this is why Article 1 Paragraph 3 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICRD) stipulates that:

“3. Nothing in this Convention may be interpreted as affecting in any way the legal provisions of States Parties concerning nationality, citizenship or naturalization, provided that such provisions do not discriminate against any particular nationality.”

Thus, given the fact that this universal or international law uses the phrase “any particular nationality” and not the word “general” makes clear that any country´s citizenship law (whether “race-based”, culture-desirability-based, or whichever-based (first, second, third countries nationality requirements-based), once such law does not restrict any particular nationalty(say Germans, Sudanese, Chinese, Arabs, Indian, Russian, etc. etc) such law is not only consistent with international law (eg.ICRD etc. etc), but consistent with the major schools of legal thought. Accordingly, Liberia´s restricted citizenship law is culture-desirability-based.

Dortu-Siboe Doe, Contributing Writer

[email protected]

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