In our ever more globalised era, global citizenship has evolved into an increasingly crucial concept. But despite its growing ubiquity, many still don’t know what it means. Here, we look at what being a global citizen involves, and just what its benefits are.
Before we look at global citizenship, it’s important that we first define what citizenship itself is on a broader level. Citizenship means being a member of a particular country, and it’s not as simple as being a resident, which allows you to live and work in a territory for a specified period of time. Rather, being a citizen is a lifelong legal bond with a country, conferring certain rights and duties that aren’t afforded to residents. These may include the freedom to vote, participate in politics, receive an education, plus responsibilities like tax and military service. Citizens can also apply for a passport from their country and pass their right to citizenship onto their children.
Until the arrival of the Internet and cheap air travel, human beings were tied down by geography. Nowadays, many people around the world have decided that, for whatever reason, they no longer feel at ‘home’ in their country of birth and move elsewhere. As a result, they have more than one home, which may change multiple times throughout their life. They will feel comfortable in several different locales and can make sense of what they find, no matter where they are in the world.
Global citizenship is not a new concept, however in the modern world, it takes on a new meaning and greater importance than ever before. Global awareness is now the responsibility of all people across the world.
“The concept originated in ancient Greece around the fourth century and the Greeks coined the term ‘cosmopolitan’, which means citizen of the world. Through the ages, a global citizen has evolved to being someone who aligns with being worldly, travelling across the globe, and embracing diversity,” says Micha Emmett, the CEO of CS Global Partners, a citizenship advisory headquartered in London.
UNICEF defines global citizenship as persons who understand interconnectedness, values and respects diversity, takes action in meaningful ways, and has the ability to challenge injustice.
“Global citizens act without limits or geographical distinctions and they do so outside the traditional spheres of power. Their goal is to defend human dignity and to promote social accountability and international solidarity, in which tolerance, inclusion and recognition of diversity occupy pride of place in word and deed, reflecting the multiplicity of actors involved in the actions of global citizenship,” said Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile and former Executive Director of UN Women in an article for the UN on Global Citizenship.
Citizens have rights and responsibilities within the country in which they enjoy citizenship. A global citizen transcends political borders and assumes that the rights and responsibilities can be derived from being a citizen of the world.
The closest example of global citizenship in practice is probably the European Union, where any citizen of a EU country can freely live, work, pay taxes and vote in all other member states. As such, these individuals can be deemed European citizens, as well as citizens of their respective nations. Another kind of global citizenship applies to those who hold multiple passports. With economic migration on the rise, more people are tied to several countries at once and have dual nationality as a result. Consequently, the concept of being a citizen of just one state is becoming outdated for many.
And it’s not only those who are naturalised as citizens of another country or have familial or marital ties enjoying dual citizenship. In recent years, more and more high net worth individuals have bought a second passport through a citizenship by investment (CBI) scheme. The first citizenship by investment programme was launched on the Caribbean island of St Kitts and Nevis in 1984. Since then, many other Caribbean countries — including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, and St Lucia — have followed suit. These schemes allow reputable individuals to become citizens in return for an investment, typically in government funds or real estate.
The rights of global citizens are imbedded in the Universal declaration of Human Rights and are grounded in individual liberty, equality, and equity, but have also evolved to include digital access rights, LGBTQ rights, and environmental rights.
While it may mean different things to different people, the most common definition of a global citizenship is the idea that all people have responsibilities to the world rather than just their country and immediate community.
Modern global citizens have ethical, moral, political and economic responsibilities, and have a desire to contribute to communities and the world at large in a positive way in order to improve the lives of others.
Citizens of the world are independent-minded and are never afraid of exploring the unknown.
They take time to learn about different cultures and tradition as they realise that knowledge can help them better understand the people and places they experience.
They are compassionate and do not let borders stand in the way of caring for people all over the world.
They keep an open mind and recognise that it is more important to understand one another than to agree on everything.
They tend to choose experiences over possessions and are always eager to broaden their minds through new experiences, which tend to last longer.
They aren’t afraid to think big and work well with others. Citizens of the world belong to an emerging global community and they recognise that while this is a privilege, it is a responsibility. They embrace this role by understanding how their actions help shape our world.
There is an uncomfortable truth, which needs to be dealt with to fully understand the concept of global citizenship, and that is the impact of wealth. Becoming a global citizen and having the ability to choose where in the world you want to work and live requires a certain level of affluence is required. Sadly, not everyone has the money or education to become a global citizen, and this doesn’t just apply to a subsistence farmer in Bolivia or Ethiopia, but also a welder in the UK or a car factory worker in Russia. These people will almost certainly always be national citizens rather than global ones.
Overall, it seems the concept of global citizenship will become more prominent as time goes on. This is because, in all likelihood, people who cannot afford to physically travel across the world will keep working together to help change the planet for the better. Whether we all become global citizens remains to be seen, but whatever happens over the coming decades, the influence of these individuals on the world’s politics and economics will be increasingly felt.
Make environmentally friendly choices in order to lessen the impact on the world. Learn about cultures all over the world, and educate yourself about what is going on globally. Travel is a great way to explore, understand and experience different places and cultures first hand.
Those that are able to can go one step further by investing in second citizenship. Citizenship by investment programmes offer individuals the opportunity to legally acquire a new nationality in return for an investment in the economy of the host country. Such programmes confer citizenship status without causing any major disruptions to an investor’s life, provided they pass all the due diligence checks first, make a qualifying investment and provide all the correct documentation.
Just over a dozen countries in the world currently offer citizenship by investment (CBI). There is a higher concentration of citizenship by investment programmes in the Caribbean, a region considered the cradle of second citizenship by investment.
Our team of professionals come from all over the world, with many of us having lived in multiple countries across the globe. In this sense, we have first-hand knowledge of how important, worrying, and sometimes emotionally taxing a second citizenship or residence decision may be for an individual and his or her family.
Our goal is to make this decision easy and to provide a smooth process and a constant guiding hand to our clients throughout their second citizenship application.
Start your journey to global citizenship today and get in contact with one of our citizenship consultants: https://csglobalpartners.com/contact/