Rights of Noncitizens

Asylum as an Individual Right in the 1949 West German Grundgesetz

in Contributions to the History of Concepts
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  • 1 University of Jyväskylä hanna-mari.kivisto@jyu.fi
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Post–World War II developments concerning citizenship and access as one of the dimensions of citizenship are examined through the prism of noncitizenship and rights, using the drafting of the asylum paragraph of the 1949 Grundgesetz of the Federal Republic of Germany as a specific case study. The aim of this article is to look into the creation of the right to asylum in West Germany, to examine its political history by exploring its development and by searching for its conceptual, political, and rhetorical origins. The article investigates the birth of the unique conceptualization of asylum in the debates of the Parliamentary Council, the constitutional and quasi-parliamentary assembly responsible for the writing of the postwar Basic Law, and examines the political choices, motivations, and compromises behind its creation. To connect the matter of asylum to a wider problematic related to noncitizens and rights, the article benefits from the political philosophy of Hannah Arendt, with reference to her writings on human rights and refugees in the immediate post–World War II period.

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