Global Citizenship

Posted: October 17th, 2013










Global Citizenship




Global Citizenship

The initial root of globalization was after WWII when the benefits of international communications and enhanced transport were harnessed to profit human beings. This marked the foundation of a dominant global force that affected states, economies, individuals and businesses. Several factors are linked to creating the force that is currently termed as globalization. The efforts to realize free international trade was one of the factors that introduced economic authority and dominance among nations. These calls were accompanied by unrestricted access to the markets and resources in other countries and thereby, making territorial borders irrelevant. The Industrial Revolution was another major contributor toward globalization. The ability to produce a variety of goods at a cheap price and en mass created the need for interconnectedness and increased commercial activities. Therefore, trade, industrialization, technology and cultural exchange were responsible for the dispersal of globalization. Globalization is a major defining factor in almost all aspects of life. Swift international development powers growth in the progressively intense web of links between the first and third world. It is very difficult for anyone to think of any element of contemporary life that is not influenced by globalization in any way.

Global citizenship is broad when defined as away of thinking adopted by various individuals. These individuals are often influenced by the emerging aspect of globalization. Globalization refers to the disregard of geographical boundaries when analyzing development whereby the world is perceived to be one large village (Lam, 2010). Interactions are therefore done freely, and responsibilities are delegated to everyone regardless of national boundaries. This way of thinking encompasses diversity and understanding responsibilities towards one another in a manner such as that of the spirit of goodwill. This explanation particularly focuses on worldwide development and the need for global citizens to make a difference, not just within their local jurisdictions. Global minded persons and communities endeavor to perform actions in the social, political, economic and environmental aspects that affect lives on a worldwide scale.

With the above in mind, global citizenship thus becomes the lens through which society analyzes development in its changing form through out history. A global citizen in this case is one who is fully aware of the larger world and has a sense of what is required of them as world citizens. This is through an understanding of the world’s economic, social, political, cultural, technological and environmental systems. They respect and value diversity and are always outraged by any injustices that threaten world prosperity. This is the reason why they participate in projects ranging from local to global levels, with reasonable responsibility for their actions (Chen, 2012). We learn from this explanation that anyone can become a global citizen since the only qualification required in this case is an acknowledgement of responsibility towards others other than those directly around them.

The United Nations, through its Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, defined human rights and responsibilities together with those factors that hinder them. With relation to global citizenship, everyone has rights that should not be constrained by geographical boundaries. The first article of the declaration cites the need for humans to act in the spirit of goodwill towards one another. This is because they are born free but with equal dignity and rights, hence the need to extend the same courtesy to others. Article 2 discourages any distinction of these human rights based on geographical jurisdictions such as states. Additionally, everyone has the right to leave their country and return if they so wish. In relation to global citizenship, the proponents of this explanation suppose that all individuals are governed by the same human rights laws, which are superior to any geographical boundaries. Global citizenship is therefore defined as an implementation of human rights, which dictate that the same laws apply to all individuals regardless of which nation they hail from. This explanation is mainly used in the field of political science that studies both citizenship and human rights (McIntyre-Mills, 2000).

The concept of stateless persons has also been dragged into the debate of the ambiguity of the term global citizenship (O’Byrne, 2003). A stateless person is one who does not belong to any state by law. This is concerning their citizenship status. Such a person is often referred to as a person of the world, meaning that since no particular country claims them they are citizens of the world. However, this explanation has drawn conflicting arguments because of the fact that such persons are not entitled to any civic other than human rights. In most cases, the reason they are accommodated by any country they seek citizenship from is humanitarian purposes. It is crucial to note that statelessness is not necessarily an involuntary situation. Many factors lead to this situation.

One such cause is conflict of nationality laws. Nationality is directly related to citizenship and can be acquired in two ways. One is through birth on the territory of a particular state while the other is through birth by descent. An issue arises where there is failure to acknowledge female citizens when conferring nationality upon children. This is in the case of persons married but not from the same territory, a factor that many countries are now willing to address to counter cases of statelessness. Another cause is state succession whereby nationality is lost after a state is integrated or otherwise falls into the control of another state. An example is the disintegration of Russia that originally comprised of many states. Some people, such as those living in none state territories like the Palestinian Territories or the Western Sahara, are stateless as per the definition of a stateless person. According to this definition, only states can have nationals, meaning that since their habitats are not states then they have no nationality and no citizenship. In rare cases, some people offer to relinquish their citizenship and become stateless. Such persons become free to choose what they want to do with no allegiance to any country’s laws.

With regard to the above explanations of global citizenship, it is obvious that whichever definition one picks, the aspect of responsibility comes up (Watson, 2009). This includes the explanation on statelessness, which requires that persons who encounter stateless persons should assist and not alienate them with regard to both human and civic rights. Global citizenship enhances prosperity that comes with a lot of responsibility. These responsibilities are not only to be fulfilled by individuals but also organizations that view themselves as operating within a global context. These organizations are derived from various fields including IT; health, business and education, and they have to act in ways that fulfill the role of responsible global citizenship. In order to understand the role such organizations play, one has to have a clear comprehension of the responsibilities of a global citizen.

Responsibilities accrued to global citizens include promotion of human and civic rights. Human rights are universal, and one has no choice but to adhere to them (Schattle, 2008). Civic rights, on the other hand, are restricted to different states though some of them are common. With the belief that everyone is a citizen of the globe, comes the responsibility of upholding all the rights that would have been present if the world would indeed have been one global village. Furthermore, actions taken within the concept of global citizenship should have the benefit of all people in mind. This can be ensured by creating awareness of the social, economic, political and environmental aspects within the global perspective. This way, global citizens would work responsibly towards achieving goals set within the aforementioned aspects. Since global citizenship is most debated and explored within educational parameters, this paper will analyze how the education sector ensures fulfillment of these responsibilities.

Education is a social aspect of globalization more so because of the manner in which it transcends beyond boundaries to bring together people from different nationalities to work towards a common goal. Although curriculums all over the world vary in their content, the main aim of education is to enlighten and offer opportunities for a good future. Through education, institutions have set out to accommodate students from various backgrounds. This is in line with the practice of global citizenship, which advocates for diversity. Stakeholders in the education systems, in the world, have invested in diversity, which consequently helps in cultivating responsible culture among global citizens. The responsibility comes with respect for each individual’s background and the values it instills in students such as tolerance and togetherness. Students tend to be more team oriented when placed in a diverse set up. This helps to shape their future careers.

Revocation of social injustice is a position taken by most global education organizations. Being a social aspect, education through its content is used to advocate for justice in the world (Abdi et al, 2008). The concept of global citizenship is mainly one governed by ethos, implying that ethics should be promoted at all times. Social injustices inflicted on any individual are shunned by those who through education have learnt to be responsible for their fellow human beings. This is in tandem with the rights of individuals that become violated through social injustice. Human rights especially are not general knowledge to everyone and their understanding mostly comes from being in a classroom. Students through their respective curriculums are taught how to respect the rights of others and be responsible for them in the spirit of goodwill. In essence, global citizens, through knowledge acquired from education are aware of the injustice in this world. Bearing the repercussions that injustice brings about, they use the skills learnt through education to promote a safer world. The promotion of justice is an ethical decision that should be upheld by everybody.

Global citizenship is responsible for sustenance of worldwide development. Education plays a major role in development anywhere in the world. Most careers are founded on an educational basis, and many skills are acquired through the same. It is of little concern as to whether this education is formal or informal since occupational skills are not only cultivated through formal education. However, the important fact is the position taken by these institutions to uphold global prosperity, given that with development, prosperity will be realized. One such action by the global education system is to ensure the transfer of knowledge to individuals. This knowledge is not limited to members of a particular geographical area but can be useful to anyone in the world. This is done through incorporation of global trends in different fields, in school curriculums. Students are therefore not limited to say, aspects of their national economies. They are given insight into events that happen globally which affect their own nations (Global citizenship, 2013). Therefore, global minded persons use the knowledge and skills acquired from education to make the world a better place, in line with responsibilities of global citizenship.


In conclusion, global citizenship is fast becoming a way of life for most people around the world. Although defined in non-specific terms, all of its explanations point towards responsibility on a global level. This responsibility is not only exercised between individuals but also organizations. Global citizens are inspired to work towards worldwide development regardless of where they hail. Although mainly a notion because it is not legally defined, it is transforming the lives and actions of individuals and organizations. This paper has established that various people understand this concept differently and that their response to it is influenced by this understanding. This means that their contribution to global citizenship is affected by their comprehension of the concept. For instance, those that explain it through the universality of human rights aim at promoting the same wherever they are. This courtesy is extended to people from other nations as per the expectations of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Therefore, in the current age of globalization, it is impossible to avoid the issue of global citizenship. Instead, states, institutions and leaders should pool their resources and brainstorm on methods of realizing healthy international coexistence. International organizations especially the United Nations play a major role in making this desire a reality. However, the criticism from state heads concerning the probable loss of their state sovereignty because of amalgamation to form associations such as the World state is an indication that the notion of global citizenship is far from being realized. Other issues that may have been overlooked by the proponents of global citizenry include the administrative and cultural complications that may emerge when several states and individuals are subjected to one government.




Abdi, A. A., & Shultz, L. (2008). Educating for human rights and global citizenship. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Chen, Basil (2012). Moral and Ethical Foundations for Sustainability: A Multi-disciplinary Approach. Retrieved from

Global citizenship (2013). United Nations Academic Impact. Retrieved from

Lam, Rachel (2010). Fostering Global Citizenship. The Queens Journal. Retrieved from

McIntyre-Mills, J. J. (2000). Global citizenship and social movements: Creating transcultural webs of meaning for the new millennium. New York: Routledge.

O’Byrne, D. J. (2003). The dimensions of global citizenship: Political identity beyond the nation-state. London: Frank Cass.

Schattle, H. (2008). The practices of global citizenship. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Pub.

Watson, S. (2009). Global citizenship. South Yarra, Vic: Macmillan Education Australia.

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