Legal Vision of Naming in Nordic States: Challenges for Ukraine

Keywords: nordic states, names repertoire, right to name, naming law, name registration, names catalogue


In this article, I research on few fundamental issues regarding naming. All Nordic states (Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden) apply the traditional name repertoire. Also, they create a catalog of names which is recommended for usage by the competent public authorities during the state registration of the person's birth. Both issues are supposed not to be an obstacle for citizens of the Nordic states to realize/enjoy the right to a name, prescribed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). It is declared in article 7(1) that "the child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality...".  It is the first step to recognize every newborn as an individual, a human being with rights, duties, and privileges. Without them, children remain invisible both on the national and international levels, and they can not identify with society and the state.

On the contrary, these issues are fixed at the legislative level, demonstrate a part of the national identity of citizens, while taking into account current trends in the transformation of value perception of the name. Everybody must know himself/herself and how he/she fits into the world, state, community. Everybody must know who he/she is and to whom,  what and why they belong, or what they are a part of. For these essential reasons, having a name and nationality are fundamental human rights acquired by everybody after birth. When both rights are honored, children can know themselves and identify with their state of birth/origin.

Parents, communities, and the state via government and other relevant public bodies should work for and support human rights for every child,  provide ethnic and national knowledge and roots for them. Parents name their children and help them to acquire a pure sense of belonging to the family, nation, state, and world. Through this kind of belonging, children become members of the community, society, and country via identification.

Every citizen born in-country or extra-territory is responsible for the correct application of all-important rules determined by every state. Also, everyone who was born in one country and acquired name and nationality due to its rules and conditions should respect those of a host country while migrating. It is up to every country to formulate on the national level, its own indicators of identity regarding values, traditions, history, and culture. They draft a name catalog to preserve national identity from the erosion; they form it by names which are traditional for the particular nation-state. They adopt such a list of names (allowed or prohibited) by the legislature as an annex to the law/code. They implement rules, conditions, and the exact procedure to register the desired name or to reject it.

All Nordic countries have some shared vision on name's application: a name should be written following the ordinary rules of state (official) language orthography, it must not be foreign to the naming tradition of a particular country; it must indicate gender (not unisex or used by another sex bearer); it cannot be a surname except a patronymic as last given name; it shall not be approved if it can cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it, etc. The same naming practice should be adopted and used in Ukraine.


Gross A.M. (1996). Rights and normalization: a critical study of European human rights case law on the choice and change of names. Harvard Human Rights Journal. Volume 9. 269–284.
The Oxford Handbook of Names and Naming (2016) / Edited by Carole Hough. Oxford University Press.
Richard D. Alford, (1988). Naming and identity: A cross-cultural study of personal naming practices. New Haven: HRAF, Pp. viii + 190.
Emens E.F. (2007). Changing Name Changing: Framing Rules and the Future of Marital Names. University Chicago Law Review, Volume 74, 761, 768, 861–862.
Shear Kushner J. (2009). The right to control one’s name. University of California Lоs Angeles Law Review, Volume 57, 313–364.
Larson Carlton F. W. (2011). Naming Baby: The Constitutional Dimensions of Parental Naming Rights, George Washington Law Review, Vol. 80. 1. 159–201.
Sofins'ka I. (2017). Pravo na im'ia u paradyhmi kontseptsii hromadianstva. Yurydychnyj zhurnal «Pravo Ukrainy». 12. 123–128.
Holovatyj S. (2019). «Verkhovenstvo prava ne pratsiuie». Komentar do tekstu dokumenta Venetsijs'koi Komisii «Dopovid' pro pravovladdia» («Report on the Rule of Law»), scho ii ukhvaleno na 86-mu plenarnomu zasidanni 25–26 bereznia 2011 r. (CDL-AD(2011)003rev). Yurydychnyj zhurnal «Pravo Ukrainy». 11. 39–82.
Shachar, A. , Bauböck, R., Bloemraad, I., Vink, M. (eds.). (2017). The Oxford Handbook of Citizenship. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Spiro P.J. (2017). Citizenship Overreach. Michigan Journal of International Law, Volume 38, Issue 2, 177.
Dauvergne C. (2007). Citizenship with a Vengeance. Theoretical Inquiries in Law, Volume 8, Issue 2, 490–491.
Sofins'ka I. (2008). Filosofs'ko-pravova viziia doktryny hromadianstva: monohrafiia. L'viv: Kameniar. 120–144.
Blackstone’s EU Treaties and Legislation 2009–2010 / N. Foster. Oxford University Press, 2009. 632–633.
Benjamin W. (2006). Selected Writings, Volume 3: 1935-1938. H. Eiland, M.W. Jennings (ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press
Linde R. (2003). Om Namnbyten och namnlagar i Sverige: Ett litet kommittéarkiv betraktat i ett större sammanhang 1918 års släktnamnsutredning, 1–7. URL:
Andersen A. (2010). Getting Personal With Names, The Reykjavík Grapevine. July 27. URL:
Nöfn Íslendinga / Höfundur: Guðrún Kvaran, Forlagid, 2011. P. 131.
Fontaine A. (2014). British Passport Granted To Harriet “Girl” Cardew. The Reykjavík Grapevine, June 26. URL:
How to Cite
Sofinska, I. (2020). Legal Vision of Naming in Nordic States: Challenges for Ukraine. Law Review of Kyiv University of Law, (1), 345-351.
The legal system of Ukraine and international law, comparative legal studies