We are citizens of the world?

Nash, Kate. 2012. We are citizens of the world? In: , ed. Global Values in a Changing World. Amsterdam: KIT, p. 182. ISBN 978 94 6022 210 8 [Book Section]

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‘World citizenship’ is still utopian, but it is no longer in the realm of science fiction or of idealist political theory. Today it seems to be directly related to quite practical questions of development. The idea of ‘world citizenship’ moves the whole debate about development from thinking in terms of charity to thinking in terms of justice. For ‘world citizens’, life-sapping poverty, appalling working and living conditions, and lack of hope for the future that is the experience of many people around the world becomes a matter of rights and responsibilities. The responsibility is ours: how do ‘we’ in over-developed states contribute in practice to securing human rights that really make a difference to people in other countries? Put like this, it may sound as if ‘rights’ is just a complication – it comes between ‘us’ – the comfortably off in rich countries - and ‘them’- the really poor in other countries. And it may even seem paternalist and disempowering: ‘we’ secure ‘their’ rights. Certainly, realizing human rights in practice is far from a simple matter. But what I think is implied in ‘world citizenship’ at the very least is that we have obligations to others as well as rights. Rights and responsibilities are two sides of the same coin in structures of global interdependence. It is in this sense that ‘world citizenship’ is close today – perhaps emerging already.

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Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Unit for Global Justice (UGJ)



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Date Deposited:

01 Aug 2013 10:37

Last Modified:

11 Mar 2021 11:40



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