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Global Citizenship and Human Rights

Updated on November 17, 2016
The World Flag
The World Flag | Source

Boundaries and community identity

The phrase “human rights” suggests that mere existence in human form entitles one to universal standards of being. It implies that all humans should have these rights—whatever they are---in contrast to any rights granted only to a human sub-set, such as those based on gender, age, ethnicity, or geographical citizenship. If people agree that all fellow humans should have certain rights, these must be blind to any other markers of identity.

Humans need a concept of human rights because our whole history is one of being subjugated to other boundaries of identity. The concept that individuals should be treated equally under a mutually binding common socio-political system has not been a central more of all civilizations. Humans have historically assigned hierarchical roles based on gender, age, skill, and prestige. People have been organizing into families, tribes, communities, cities, nation-states, nations, and multi-national blocs with group membership as a primary political identity; in contemporary terms this has become citizenship. Many national boundaries disregard preferred identification of sovereign ethnic or cultural groups, but citizenship is still the defining political reality.

A self-portrait with the wife and children, G.I. Narbut, 1919
A self-portrait with the wife and children, G.I. Narbut, 1919 | Source


The nature of biological generations confers an inherited identity by birth-line association. Family origins can convey one's primary citizenship under the “right of blood” (from the Latin jus sanguinis) which would apply to the children of expatriates. Citizenship is also conveyed via the “right of soil” (jus soil in Latin) based on one’s location of birth. Citizenship law and requirements differ between nations.

The way our world works right now, a human baby is automatically assigned citizenship to a national government. There is no choice in the matter---we are raised by families and grow up somewhere, where we have to obey all the local laws. The way our national political systems have developed, national law is the highest authority in its domain, and nations go to war with each other to gain territory, resources, and power. The hapless citizens born into these systems are expected to contribute and obey to secure their protection and future survival. Access to power and resources is entirely dependent upon the individual’s providential birth circumstances.

Vervexca | Source

Human rights conceived

The concept of human rights has developed in contrast to the “might makes right” paradigm that has perpetuated war culture. Without a global human authority to intervene, what legal and ethical basis is there for peace?

The League of Nations was created after World War I to prevent such a crisis from ever re-occurring. After World War II, the new United Nations took over that role in hopes that a stronger international framework for conflict resolution and justice could prevail. Here is the history of the UN:

Author: mjchael
Author: mjchael | Source

Human rights enumerated

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The human rights of the Universal Declaration include:

-life and physical security

-personal liberty (as opposed to slavery or captivity)

-due process of law

-freedom from discrimination based on demographics

-mobility across geographical political borders

-right to national citizenship and to change citizenship

-consent and equality in marriage

-property ownership and protection

-freedom of religious belief

-freedom to express opinions

-freedom of assembly

-political participation in one’s government

-freedom of employment choices, equal pay for equal work, and unionization

-right to education

-protection of children’s welfare

-basic standard of living that offers health and well-being

United Nations emblem
United Nations emblem | Source

Human rights enforced?

In theory, member states are obligated to assist in the enforcement of UN standards that they agree to adopt. In practice, the leverage and resources of the United Nations are limited because it depends upon participation from member nations, whose national security interests may conflict with international humanitarian goals. But despite its weakness as a central authority, the United Nations has laid the groundwork for global standards of peace and justice.


Global citizenship?

Humans everywhere have almost all been processed into hierarchical communities where obedience to a civic and/or cultural authority assigns political identity. If we are very lucky, we are citizens of a government that grants us a fair voting process. But even then, our voice is limited. What if we had a vote as a global citizen instead?

This writer propose the following ideas:

-Adopt a concept of global citizenship, to be granted upon an internationally recognized age of majority (suggested: age 18)

-Global citizens are identified by fingerprint profiles

-Global citizens are provided free access to UN-sanctioned news sources of unbiased information about issues of international concern

-Global citizens vote on all UN resolutions, policies, and proposed actions at voting booths set up a special UN voting task force

-Global citizens work together to build the resources needed to enact and enforce United Nations policies that benefit the entire planet

Let the world’s people democratically express our concerns for the global community. Let us work together towards a sustainable, peaceful future where all humans' rights are protected.


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    • MrsBrownsParlour profile imageAUTHOR

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Ericdierker---Your encouragement means a lot to me, thank you. I hope to write more about international relations soon. Have a great day and thanks again for your comments!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Please revisit this hub and continue your important work with another. I say with hat in hand and bending knee, please do equity.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile imageAUTHOR

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Ericdierker--Just awesome. That video: whoever the Cold War was between, it wasn't between them and us.... :-) :-) :-) Thanks for your truly excellent contributions.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I once stood in front of a subcommittee in a communist nation I argued for the right of every citizen to have access to the information provided by this international tool. That was in 1999. They now have that proclamation.

      If we apply those rights to the internet then the internet can secure them. Egypt and Iran are startling examples. To get inspired watch this video clip: These are my people and yours in a post communist country

      (sorry could not imbed here)

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile imageAUTHOR

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Ericdierker---I did not! I just looked it up and learned that "On July 5, 2012, the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the United Nations, unanimously adopted a resolution to protect the free speech of individuals on the Internet, the first such U.N. resolution of its kind. While they expressed reservations about it, the representatives of China and Cuba were also among the 47 members of the HRC who approved the resolution. The United States was one of the countries that co-sponsored the resolution with Sweden, which spearheaded the motion. Resolution L13, the Promotion, Protection and Enjoyment of Human Rights on the Internet, evokes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights..."

      This is really exciting information to me...thank you very much!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Did you know that the freedom we have in/on the internet are greatly do to the DHR? The early forums and assemblies for internet governance relied heavily upon them. Thanks for a great hub.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile imageAUTHOR

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      HSchneider--Thank you! I also wish the U.S. supported the UN more and did not break international law so frequently. I appreciate your comments. :-)

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent Hub, MrsBrownsParlour. Global human rights were part of the United Nations beginnings. Unfortunately they have proven to be more aspirational than actual in the reality of daily lives. Maybe it would be better if the United States took a more active role in the U.N. Nationalism, of course, will impede us from doing this. At least for now.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile imageAUTHOR

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Frank Atanacio----Thank you for your feedback and vote of confidence, I really appreciate it! :-)

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile imageAUTHOR

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      torilynn--Hello and thank you! I think we all think human rights are a good idea. Many people might not know that there is 60-year-old international document listing them! I appreciate your comment, thanks. :-)

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile imageAUTHOR

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Shannon---Hello and thank you for commenting! Yes, activism goes much further than policy-making right now. You make good points about the current impracticality of international accountability (this IS the problem) and how even with a global vote, many cultures would not agree with many of the human rights in the UN Declaration. It was less than a hundred years ago that women's suffrage even became a reality in the United States.

      I'd bet that there is nowhere on earth where all of these human rights are fully upheld---they are utopian. But regardless of their intentions about enforcing it, almost 50 countries adopted the Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Only 8 abstained, including South Africa (which had been against it) and the Soviet bloc, which Eleanor Roosevelt said was due to Article 13, which provided the right of citizens to leave their countries. I got that information from

      I agree with you that change happens on a personal basis first and primarily. Extending "human rights" to our immediate community is a lofty enough goal. The shift I am hoping for would be that we also see people across the globe as "my neighbor, my people".

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile imageAUTHOR

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Nellieanna---I do see so much hope and potential in the UN. It used to be my dream to work for them. You are right, democratic self-rule is not comfortable for people in power and they are not at all likely to support any measures that would challenge them. Self-interest and tyranny are hard to overcome.

      But having a basis for a global census and direct democracy would at least create a voice for everyone (internet access would also be great but needs infrastructure and superior identity security codes). Then, when national governments refused to stop their wars, it would be against the vote of say, 3 billion people.

      It is because of the state of affairs in this world (Syria at the moment, for example) that I wish I and everyone else could have a chance to officially say "Not in my name."

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile imageAUTHOR

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Bill---It does sound like political sci-fi right now (and I didn't even put in my thoughts about how we should let 18-y-o's renounce national citizenship and create global citizen enclaves in every member nation's capital city...unless Antarctica opens up...). Right now even if we had a sweeping popular global vote for something, who would fund it and enforce it? But I would love to see a system of direct democracy worldwide.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      5 years ago from Shelton

      What a detailed and powerful hub you have here ...thank you for sharing...:) voted useful and up

    • torrilynn profile image


      5 years ago

      I like the amount of detail that you've put into this hub. It was very informative and useful to know of human rights and why we need our human rights. Voted up and useful.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Everyone is a global citizen, but not everyone is treated with the rights most would consider people deserve. Groups like Amnesty International try to correct major violations of human rights through activism. True enforcement would be a challenge to accomplish because very few countries would be willing to allow a global vision supersede national sovereignty. Also, many citizens of many nations have wide disagreements as to who deserve which rights and when. A large central authority for the world would find itself at odds with many local ideals.

      What is more possible, is global civics. While we may never be able to make sure those around the world are treated well, we may be able to motivate more and more to treat one another better in individual personal lives.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      First of all, it seems to be an extremely well-researched hub, Lurana. I remember when the U.N. was created and it was a beacon of hope after the horrid War. It's dwindled in effectiveness, for many of the reasons you mention. Individual nations' self-interest are not always in line with and in support of its principles. Even individual self-interests rise up to raise doubts or objections to really honoring equal rights for all. So it is an ambitious idea to resurrect these ideas on a truly global basis.

      There's the natural antipathy to democratic self-rule which is highly evident in many areas of the globe as we speak. It's difficult to imagine they'll just turn 180 to embrace such a plan and course of action. But as Billy says - I've seen many turnabouts in human behavior - both individually and collectively. As the disastrous course of the present course and direction of the planet becomes more impossible to ignore, perhaps a better idea might win support. I'm very much in support of it. Yours certainly bears consideration, IMHO.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love the concept, and I was going to say what are the chances of that happening, but I have seen bigger changes during my who knows, right?

      You have been busy writing this weekend, about some heavy subjects. Take the rest of the night off and get some rest. :)


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