Citizenship is membership in a political community (originally a city but now a state), and carries with it rights to political participation; a person having such membership is a citizen. It is largely coterminous with nationality, although it is possible to have a nationality without being a citizen (i.e. be legally subject to a state and entitled to its protection without having rights of political participation in it); it is also possible to have political rights without being a national of a state - for example a citizen of Mozambique (or another Commonwealth country) resident in the UK is entitled to full political rights. See nationality for further discussion of how citizenship can be acquired, etc.
Citizenship implies working towards the betterment of the community one lives in through participation, volunteer work and efforts to improve life for all citizens. Some schools in England and Wales teach a citizenship lesson – a slight variation of Personal and Social Education.
Subnational entities may impose requirements of residency or otherwise in order to participate in the political life of that entity, or to enjoy benefits provided by the government of that entity.
European Union (EU) citizenship
Currently "EU Citizenship" is not quite equal in status to national citizenship (and certainly not outside the EU). Rather one holds the "nationality of a member state" and, as a result of the Maastricht Treaty, thereby becomes a "citizen of the Union". This offers certain rights and privileges within the EU: in many areas EU citizens have the same or similar rights to native citizens in member states. Such rights granted to EU citizens include the right of abode , the right to vote in local and European elections and the right to work in any position (including the civil service) except for very specific positions (defense...). The EU member states use a common passport design, burgundy coloured with the name of the member state, national seal and the title "European Union" or equivalent. Union citizenship continues to gain in status and the European Court of Justice in Case C-184/99 Rudy Grzelczyk v Centre Public d'Aide Sociale d'Ottignes-Louvain-la-Neuve,  ECR I-6193, para 31, has stated that Union citizenship will be the "fundamental status of nationals of Member States". The European Commission has affirmed that Union citizenship should be the fundamental status of EU nationals.
Ever since the establishment of the Commonwealth of Nations, "Commonwealth Citizenship" was not and still is not considered quite equal in status to national citizenship (moreso outside Commonwealth states). Rather one is a citizen of the state as well as automatically holding Commonwealth citizenship (provided that the state is a member of the Commonwealth). This form of citizenship offers certain privileges (though limited in recent times and by no means unique any longer) within the Commonwealth: in many, but not all Commonwealth countries, citizens have no need for visas to travel to other Commonwealth countries and citizens of Commonwealth countries resident in other Commonwealth countries is entitled to most or full political rights, i.e. they have the right to vote in local and national elections whilst being permanent residents and in some cases may even stand for election. In some instances the right to work in any position (including the civil service) is granted, except for very specific positions (defence, Governor-General or President, Prime minister in some cases...). Whilst Commonwealth citizenship is usually enshrined in the written constitutions (where applicable) of Commonwealth states and in is considered in essence a form of dual citizenship, there has never been, nor are there any plans for a common passport.
Some countries extend honorary citizenship to those whom they consider to be especially admirable or worthy of the distinction.
By Act of Congress and presidential assent, honorary United States citizenship has been awarded to British statesman Sir Winston Churchill (1963); Swedish humanitarian and diplomat Raoul Wallenberg (1981); Pennsylvania founder William Penn and his wife Hannah Callowhill Penn (1984); Macedonian-born Catholic nun and humanitarian Mother Teresa (1996); and French nobleman and American Revolutionary War ally, the marquis de La Fayette (2002). A bill was introduced in Congress to grant such status to the Russian nuclear physicist and prisoner of conscience Dr. Andrei Sakharov in 2002 but it was not made law.
Last updated: 06-01-2005 20:20:44