Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nottebohm Case (Liechtenstein v. Guatemala) case brief

Nottebohm Case (Liechtenstein v. Guatemala)

Procedural History:
Appeal by a state from the refusal of another state to admit one of its nationals.


Nottebohm (P), a German citizen, lived in Guatemala (D) for 34 years and applied for Liechtenstein (P) citizenship one month after the start of World War II.  Nottebohm (P) was a German by birth. Nottebohm (P) lived in Guatemala (D) for 34 years, retaining his German citizenship and family and business ties with it. One month after the outbreak of World War II, Nottebohm {P) applied for citizenship with Liechtenstein {P), a neutral country. Nottebohm (P) had no ties with Liechtenstein {P) and intended to remain in Guatemala (D). Liechtenstein (P) approved the naturalization application and impliedly waived its three-year residency requirement. Nottebohm (P) briefly visited Liechtenstein (P) and, on his return to Guatemala (D), was refused admittance, being deemed a German national. Nottebohm’s (P) Liechtenstein (P) citizenship was not honored. Liechtenstein {P) brought an action before the International Court to compel Guatemala (D) to recognize Nottebohm (P) as one of its nationals. Guatemala (D) challenged the validity of Nottebohm’s (P) citizenship, the right of Liechtenstein (P) to bring the action and alleged its belief that Nottebohm (P) remained a German national.


Must a nation automatically recognize the citizenship conferred on a party by another nation?

-No. As a general rule, matters concerning citizenship are solely the concern of the granting nation. It  alone will normally bear the burdens or attain the benefits from the conferral of citizenship on a party. However, the conferring state may not require other states to  automatically accept its designation unless it has acted in conformity with the general aim of forging a genuine bond between it and its national. Here, no relationship exists  between Liechtenstein {P) and Nottebohm (P). There was never an intent to reside in Liechtenstein (P), no business or family connections, no acceptance of traditions and the severing of old ties, etc. The change in nationality was a mere convenience/subterfuge mandated by the war. Under such circumstances, Guatemala (D) was not forced to recognize it. Dismissed.

while nationality conferred on a party is normally only the concern of that nation, such nationality may be disregarded by other states where it is clear that it was a mere device/subterfuge.

A state putting forth a claim must establish a locus standi for that purpose. This is almost exclusively a showing of nationality of the claimant The real claimant must have continuously and without interruption from the time of the injury to the making of an award been a national of the state making the claim and must not have been a national of the state against whom the claim has been filed. International Law 347 (8th Ed. 1955) Vol. 1.

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