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It is also arguable that the way in which international bodies have been constructed and international agreements drafted ensures continuing freedom of action for states. Nevertheless, a growing number of international obligations and forums for continuous cooperation can be seen as strengthening the bonds of international society and gradually eroding state sovereignty. It is also possible to discern elements of an emerging cosmopolitan order.

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This developing cosmopolitanism has been particularly striking in the area of international law. International law in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries focused on obligations between states and upheld national sovereignty. In the twentieth century international conventions on individual human rights, and the principles of individual responsibility enunciated by the Nuremberg Tribunal at the end of the Second World War, indicated the emergence of a cosmopolitan spirit in international law, which could indeed be found in the writings of the early theorists of laws between nations, but most international law maintained the primacy of states.

However, significant developments in international law during the s indicated the extent to which international law is influencing decisions by national courts. For example, four women who damaged a Hawk aircraft due to be sold to Indonesia, on the grounds that it could promote genocide in East Timor, were acquitted by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court in August The judge allowed the women to ground their defence in international law and call witnesses representing the East Timorese opposition.

This assertion of cosmopolitanism strengthens the case for thinking in terms of global citizenship. Perhaps the most significant indication of the cosmopolitan tendency in international law was the agreement by states out of in July to a treaty to set up an International Criminal Court to try those who have committed genocide and aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity. A second development was the decision affirmed twice in late and in March by the British House of Lords that the former Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet could not claim immunity based on the principle of national sovereignty and diplomatic immunity as a member of the Chilean Senate, and could be extradited to Spain to answer charges.

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The Lords based their ruling on the fact that torture had become an extraditable crime under international law in The judge argues that Spanish law allows prosecution of genocide outside Spanish frontiers. Advocates of cosmopolitanism may also be divided over military action for humanitarian purposes.

The arguments for and against this approach were posed especially sharply by the war over Kosovo in , because NATO acted militarily without UN authority and because of the strategy and weapons used. A quite different reason for current interest in global citizenship within western political thought is the revived focus on citizenship since the s. Feminist critiques of mainstream political practice and theory have also focused on the inadequacies of earlier concepts of citizenship.

Political revolutions in the former Soviet bloc and the challenge of mass migration into the more affluent West also raised urgent questions about the basis of citizenship, especially in a re-united Germany. Green politics have also challenged traditional approaches to citizenship by stressing that environmental problems need international decisions. One basic objection to the concept of global citizenship is that the global conditions for citizenship do not exist and that the term is therefore at best metaphorical. There is still a lively debate whether there are in any real sense citizens of the European Union, despite the fact that this status was created by the Maastricht Treaty.

This issue is debated later in this book. Since, however, there are very 6 Introduction specific legal, institutional, political and economic bonds between EU peoples, and membership of the Union involves surrendering significant elements of national sovereignty, the EU is very much closer to creating conditions for citizenship than international bodies that cover the whole world.


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A rigorous definition of citizenship also raises the question whether it makes sense to talk about global citizenship except in the context of a fully established federal world government. Discussion of global citizenship presupposes a model of citizenship in the nation state. At a minimum, citizenship implies a legally and politically defined status, involving both rights guaranteed by custom or law and corresponding responsibilities.

Historically, minimum rights have included personal freedoms and minimum obligations included the payment of taxes. The concept of being a citizen, as opposed to being the subject of a ruler, has also historically been linked to the right to participate in politics and belief in a fundamental legal and political equality between citizens. Until recently it has also of course been a privileged status, generally excluding the propertyless, women and indigenous peoples.

During the twentieth century, as citizenship rights were extended, the nature of citizen rights also changed. The development of the welfare state led T. Marshall to his famous formulation of three kinds of citizen rights: civil, political and social. Marshall had in mind a historical progression from basic civil liberties to a widening franchise and evolving social welfare.

But his essay did not envisage the claims of the second wave feminist movements or the movements of indigenous peoples in North America, Australia and New Zealand and other parts of the world, which have thrown up claims for new types of rights. Apart from changes in the understanding of citizenship arising out of historical developments, there are also competing models of citizenship.

There is a long-standing distinction between republican and liberal ideas of citizenship, the former implying a much stronger commitment to the political community and the latter allowing more scope for individual pursuit of private goals and with a more limited sense of necessary citizen obligations.

Feminism has also engaged with the ideal of citizenship and promoted a number of differing interpretations of citizenship that would give women genuine equality. One of the crucial elements in the definition of citizenship has been that it denotes membership of a specific political unit and that citizens are clearly distinguished from temporary foreign visitors and also from resident aliens. The element of exclusivity that has, historically, been built into the idea of citizenship Introduction 7 might well suggest that global citizenship is an oxymoron. But the development of international law and the pressures of migration have challenged the exclusivity of the nation state and therefore the old concept of citizenship.

The dissolution of former colonial empires, and pressure from would-be migrants from Africa and Asia, have also forced European countries to debate the implications of multiculturalism and to rethink their categories of legal citizenship, though often in a restrictive and discriminatory direction. The question of refugees who become stateless, a problem that affected millions in the twentieth century, has also challenged the adequacy of exclusive national concepts of citizenship and suggested the need for a global guarantee of minimum rights to those who lose their original citizenship.

The development of League of Nations and United Nations provision for refugees and the evolution of international refugee law are also examined in Part II. This duty also underlines the particular loyalties associated traditionally with citizenship and the conflict between citizen patriotism and the universal commitments suggested by global citizenship. Indeed, cosmopolitanism has been associated with the quest to end war between nation states.

From this perspective the idea of global citizenship is sometimes posited as an alternative to national citizenship, to signify a quite different kind of political allegiance. But if national politics can be guided by cosmopolitan principles, then potentially national citizenship and global citizenship are not antitheses, but complementary. This position is suggested by Kant in his political pamphlets.

Peace activists quite often claim to be acting as conscientious national citizens, even when they oppose a particular war, but they are necessarily giving priority to universal principles over the claims of immediate obedience to their government. Peace movements may therefore be seen as one important expression of people voluntarily acting as global citizens. Transnational movements in support not only of peace, but also of human rights, preservation of the global environment or greater global economic equality are now often seen as vehicles for global citizenship.

The development of a global civil society creates a context for citizenship action, just as civil society within the state is an arena for much citizen activity directed towards promoting the good of fellow citizens. In the absence of a fully developed framework of global governance, individuals can choose to develop one aspect of the role of global citizen. Whether taking part in such movements necessarily exemplifies global citizenship is more debatable. These questions are considered later. Moreover, the state system is not well equipped to respond to the claims for aboriginal rights or the needs of refugees.

Therefore he suggests that human rights provide a more universal, contemporary and progressive basis for responding to globalization. We now live in a world where international law and covenants on rights give moral principles some legal weight. Partly because the nation state is not the sole locus of decision-making and loyalty, we need a concept of citizenship that extends beyond it and takes account of global institutions. There are, nevertheless, difficulties involved in an attempt to elucidate an ideal of global citizenship inherent in the ambiguities of cosmopolitanism.

One frequent criticism, for example from conservative or communitarian theorists, is that social responsibility presupposes membership of a clearly defined community with its own values and obligations. One of the potentially negative connotations of cosmopolitanism, therefore, is lack of commitment to a specific polity and culture, or rootlessness and parasitism. For example, the eighteenth-century philosophes formed an intellectual transnational elite. Nevertheless, although cosmopolitan attitudes can be elitist, since the eighteenth century they have been especially associated with popular movements.

An optimistic interpretation from a neoliberal perspective sees the spread of global markets as ultimately leading to greater wealth for the vast majority. Moreover, it can be argued that the global citizens par excellence are leaders of economic corporations, jetting round the world and living in similar hotels and meeting similar kinds of people. But the logic of profit throws up numerous examples of western companies exploiting African or Asian consumers, or seizing their natural assets for drugs or new bio-technology, and it is also easier to ignore environmental standards in Introduction 9 many poor countries.

Cosmopolitanism from within the tradition of western political thought raises additional political difficulties, because of the role of western imperialism. It can be plausibly claimed that it is because the West has conquered most of the world by force of arms and superior technology in the past, and is asserting its present domination primarily through economic power, that liberal ideas and values are widely recognized, if less widely practised.

Western corporations also control many aspects of global culture. Postcolonial theory makes the more subtle charge that western universalism, even when voiced by groups in global civil society, is a form of cultural imperialism. Postcolonialism links up with western philosophical challenges to cosmopolitanism: the claim that it is based on a false belief in the possibility of universalism.

Moreover, the attempt to establish universal rules as the basis of social order can be interpreted as a form of domination, privileging those who are presumed to observe these principles against all those who are different.


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  • Class, gender and racial domination may all be involved — some feminists have argued that only propertied white males are ascribed the rationality that makes them capable of understanding and acting in accordance with universal principles. These considerations may undermine the attempt to discuss global citizenship today in a vocabulary that derives from western universalism, since the language may be taken to express membership of a privileged section of the world. A range of complex issues are raised by postmodern, postcolonial and feminist critiques of cosmopolitan universalism and these are discussed in the final part of the book.

    I argue that a form of universalism is possible, and that cosmopolitanism is not only a valid but a politically necessary stance, particularly for feminists. This book is divided into three parts. The first traces the development of cosmopolitanism, including the evolution of international law and claims to world citizenship, in modern western thought and political practice. There are universalist principles to be found in many other cultural and religious traditions, and some books try to indicate the variety of perspectives for approaching a global consciousness.

    The Renaissance has been taken as a starting point, despite the great influence of classical Stoicism on the development of cosmopolitanism and the idea of world citizenship, because it is possible to trace a continuous development of ideas from to The story is not, of course, simply one of growing 10 Introduction acceptance of cosmopolitan beliefs or uninterrupted progress in implementing them.

    Since the Enlightenment there has been a rise in nationalism which may be compatible with cosmopolitanism, but often is not and of racism, and wars have become increasingly destructive. Moreover, universal claims have sometimes been used to justify the expansion of western economic and political power.

    This linkage can be traced in aspects of the evolution of international law, in much liberal thought — especially in the nineteenth century, and even in the attitudes and arguments of early transnational movements. But this survey also shows that strong cosmopolitan commitments provide a critique of imperialist practice in other parts of the world and assumptions of western superiority.