University of Leicester
2024ArenillaSLPHD.pdf (2.67 MB)

Colombia’s Nationality Law: A Historical Interpretation

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posted on 2024-04-19, 08:42 authored by Shirley L. Arenilla

This dissertation, employing historical and doctrinal methods, offers a comprehensive analysis of the factors shaping Colombian nationality law, with a particular focus on Colombia’s exceptional conditional ius soli regime. Drawing on existing scholarship regarding determinants in the evolution of nationality regimes, two approaches are identified to explain the Colombian context. A nation-building approach emphasises the influence of historical legacies on nationality law, and a migration-based approach highlights the impact of international migration on initial and subsequent nationality regimes.

Within this framework, the dissertation explores the pervasive theme of racialisation within immigration policies. The research illustrates that in the post-colonial era nation-building efforts aimed to ‘whiten’ the population through European immigration, thereby embedding racialised effects within immigration and nationality policies. In the contemporary context, it underscores the interplay of nationality and immigration policies, which collectively produce a system that disproportionately affects the entry and settlement of individuals racialised as non-white, rendering access to nationality less likely for children of individuals in these marginalised groups. Consequently, the dissertation argues for a thorough analysis of facially neutral requirements in immigration policies, considering their potential for indirect discrimination against certain groups.

Furthermore, this dissertation analyses recent changes in Colombia’s nationality regime triggered by the Venezuelan migration crisis, with a secondary focus on international human rights law standards intersecting nationality law and international migration. Notably, Colombia’s adoption of a risk-based approach to statelessness in addressing the nationality of children born to Venezuelan parents in Colombia is assessed.

Ultimately, this study argues for a re-evaluation of the domicile requirement within Colombia’s nationality law in such a way as to allow children of irregular migrants andasylum seekers domiciled in Colombia to obtain Colombian nationality by birth. It recommends a shift towards unconditional ius soli, or alternatively, the decoupling of domicile and parental migratory status, aligning with Inter-American human rights standards. 



Bernard Ryan; Alan Desmond

Date of award


Author affiliation

Leicester Law School

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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