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Dr. Lior Erez

Lior Erez

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Human Rights Under Pressure - Ethics, Law and Politics

Post Doctoral Fellow

Dr. Lior Erez is a political theorist. He holds a BA in History and Political Science from Tel Aviv University, an MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in Political Theory from University College London. Prior to joining the Minerva Center for Human Rights, he was a teaching associate in Ethics and World Politics at the University of Cambridge, a Max Weber postdoctoral fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, and a research fellow at the Edmond J Safra Center for Ethics in Tel Aviv. His research as a Postdoctoral Fellow explores the ethics and politics of the selling of citizenship.

Dr. Erez’s research interests lie in international political theory, and in particular, the intersection between international relations and the ethics and politics of citizenship. The three main themes that shape his research are (i) national identity and civic republican citizenship; and (ii) the role of civic motivation in political theory, and especially in normative theories of international justice; (iii) the structure of dilemmas in international politics. His postdoctoral research project focuses on instrumental attitudes to citizenship by individuals and states, and particularly the bourgeoning practice of “citizenship for sale”.

The practice of selling citizenship has been taking place for several years in impoverished micro-states such as Nauru, Comoro Islands, and St. Kitts and Nevis, where the sale of citizenship now accounts for a full 25% of national GDP. In a controversial legislation passed in 2014, Malta’s parliament has approved the plan to offer the sale of Maltese citizenship – and thus derivatively, EU citizenship – for 1.4 Million Euros and extremely limited residency requirements, and other European states, such as Cyprus and Romania, have followed suit.

This practice has attracted fierce international criticism for being mired in corruption and illicit interests. Citizenship by Investment schemes in Caribbean islands are viewed as a threat to American security interests, used by Iranian and Russian nationals as a way to evade economic sanctions; Comorian citizenship is purchased en masse by the UAE, to be imposed on the country’s stateless Bidoon population; and a resolution by European Parliament declared that “the rights conferred by EU citizenship are based on human dignity and should not be bought or sold at any price”.

In normative legal and political theory, the practice is usually met with great hostility, employing a myriad of arguments from its harmful effects on global equality, the contamination of the non-instrumental meaning of citizenship, and the crowding out of civic virtue by putting a price on membership. Dr. Erez’s project aims to fill the gap in the literature and to formulate an objection to the sale of citizenship that is better placed to answer the libertarian challenge. His argument is that a successful critique of citizenship for sale cannot rely on anti-commodification arguments, and must rely on a civic republican conception of citizenship, integrating global justice and civic equality arguments.

  • ‘Liberal Nationalism, Immigration, and the Problem of Multiple National Identities’, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, forthcoming.
  • ‘The Donor’s Dilemma: International Aid and Human Rights Violations’ (Co-authored with Niheer Dasandi), British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming.
  • ‘Pro Mundo Mori? The Problem of Cosmopolitan Motivation in War’, Ethics & International Affairs, Vol. 31 (2), July 2017: pp. 143-165.
  • ‘Anti-Cosmopolitanism and the Motivational Preconditions for Social Justice’, Social Theory and Practice, Vol. 43 (2), April 2017: pp. 249-282.
Freie Universität Berlin
The Minerva Center for Human Rights
Menschenrechtszentrum Uni Potsdam
DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Einstein Foundation Berlin
Dahlem Research School