Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law

Article

Hungarian Territorial Changes and Nationality Issues Following World War I

Keywords nationality, state succession, right of option, rights of citizenship in a commune, Trianon Peace Treaty
Authors Mónika Ganczer
Author's information

382552 Mónika Ganczer
Mónika Ganczer: associate professor of law, Széchenyi István University, Győr; research fellow, Eötvös Loránd Research Network, Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies, Budapest.
  • Abstract

      In the aftermath of World War I, Hungary had to relinquish approximately two-thirds of its former territory and over half of its population under the terms of the Trianon Peace Treaty of 4 June 1920. This inevitably brought about a change in the nationality of persons pertaining to territories transferred to other states. However, the interpretation and implementation of articles concerning nationality were highly ambiguous. For example, the rights of citizenship in a commune, the so-called pertinenza, was not defined in the peace treaty, although the determination of affected persons and beneficiaries of the right of option was explicitly based on that particular criterion. Hence, the fate of these individuals largely depended on the domestic legal regulation and the subjective treaty interpretations of successor states. The application of treaty provisions was not always in conformity with the text, which sometimes proved advantageous, other times disadvantageous for the affected persons. This study seeks to explore the theoretical background, the past and present interpretation, the practical application and the judicial treatment of articles concerning nationality in the Trianon Peace Treaty. The paper also exposes the major problems and shortcomings of the Treaty and makes suggestions for an appropriate wording and adequate interpretation of relevant treaty provisions. Furthermore, in order to provide a full picture of how territorial changes following World War I affected the nationality of millions of individuals, the study takes into consideration other contemporary international instruments with a bearing on the change of nationality or its consequences.

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