chapter  11
12 Pages

Global Ethics and Global Citizenship

In this chapter we look at one central element of the idea of global citizenship which almost anyone would agree on, whether they favoured it or rejected it, and whatever else they would or would not build into the idea of global citizenship. When someone says of himself 'I am a global citizen', he is making some kind of moral claim about the nature and scope of our moral obligations. That is, he accepts that he has obligations in principle towards people in any part of the world; for instance, help alleviate poverty, work for international peace, support organisations trying to stop human rights violations, or play one's part in reducing global warming. And if someone says, of people in general and not merely of herself, that 'we are global citizens', she means to say that people generally have these kinds of obligations, whether or not they are currently aware of them or accept them. Thus Piet Hein, a Danish poet, once said at an international conference 'We are global citizens with tribal souls' precisely to make the point that we have global responsibility but most of us most of the time do not have an appropriate consciousness or identity to match this (quoted in Barnaby 1988: 186).