Citizenship in the World

Citizenship of the World

A good World Citizen

In a non-political definition, it has been suggested that a world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts. Someone who knows the "Ways of the World" In its most obvious scenario, the savvy businessperson who has traveled the world would be able to use knowledge about resources and products found abroad to create business where value can be maximized. In another scenario, the savvy world citizen would leverage cultural knowledge from his/her numerous trips to create bridges of knowledge, also creating value. In a third scenario, especially for Boy Scouts, it may be someone who is well read, understanding the cultures and histories of other nations.

To a certain extent, we are talking about a concept of "citizen of the world." The term exists in popular use, but mostly to refer to certain urbane, suave and debonair sophisticates who, in their cosmopolitan behavior, seem to transcend national identification. Certain actors have been considered such, like George Sanders, David Niven, Maurice Chevalier or Omar Sharif.

A citizen of the world would be one who senses an ability to influence global decisions and accepts behavior that is congruent with those decisions. It would be one who takes these decisions as legitimate. But it would be a citizenship limited by the scope of issues on which those decisions were taken. This is a more limited scope than those of the Nation-State and the citizenship derived from it would be partial or sectoral one.

Becoming a U.S. Citizen

The Supreme Court has never explicitly ruled on whether children born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents are entitled to birthright citizenship via the 14th Amendment, although it has generally been assumed that they are. This has become controversial, as some non-residents enter the US as illegal aliens with the intent to give birth to children. A birth certificate is considered evidence of citizenship.

By Birth

The Supreme Court in 1898 ruled that a person who meets the following criteria, becomes, at the time of his birth, a citizen of the United States, by virtue of the first clause of the 14th amendment of the Constitution.

Through birth abroad to two United States citizens. In most cases, one is a U.S. citizen if both of the following are true:

A person's record of birth abroad, if registered with a U.S. consulate or embassy, is proof of his or her citizenship. He or she may also apply for a passport or a Certificate of Citizenship to have his or her citizenship recognized.

For persons born on or after November 14, 1986, a person is a U.S. citizen if all of the following are true:

A person's record of birth abroad, if registered with a U.S. consulate or embassy, is proof of his or her citizenship. Such a person may also apply for a passport or a Certificate of Citizenship to have a record of his or her citizenship. Such documentation is often useful to prove citizenship in lieu of the availability of an American birth certificate.

Different rules apply for persons born abroad to one U.S. citizen before November 14, 1986. United States law on this subject changed multiple times throughout the twentieth century, and the law as it existed at the time of the individual's birth controls.

By Naturalization

A person who was not born a US citizen may acquire US citizenship through a process known as naturalization.

To become a naturalized United States citizen, one must be at least eighteen years of age at the time of filing, a legal permanent resident of the United States, and have had a status of a legal permanent resident in the United States for five years less 90 days before they apply (this requirement is reduced to three years less 90 days if they

  1. acquired legal permanent resident status,
  2. have been married to and living with a citizen for the past three years, and
  3. the spouse has been a US citizen for at least three years prior to the applicant applying for naturalization.)

They must have been physically present for at least 30 months of 60 months prior to the date of filing their application. Also during those 60 months if the legal permanent resident was outside of the U.S. for a continuous period of 6 months or more they are disqualified from naturalizing (certain exceptions apply for those continuous periods of six months to 1 year). They must be a "person of good moral character", and must pass a test on United States history and government. Most applicants must also have a working knowledge of the English language. There are exceptions, introduced in 1990, for long-resident older applicants and those with mental or physical disabilities. This requirement for an ability to read, write, and speak English is not regarded as too difficult, since the test requires that applicants read and write in English.

The United States Oath of Citizenship (officially referred to as the "Oath of Allegiance," 8 C.F.R. Part 337 (2008)) is an oath that must be taken by all immigrants who wish to become United States citizens. The first officially recorded Oaths of Allegiance were made on May 30th, 1778 at Valley Forge, during the Revolutionary War. One Famed person of note to make the oath was Benedict Arnold.

The current "Oath of Allegiance"

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

The proposed new "Oath of Allegiance"

Solemnly, freely, and without mental reservation, I hereby renounce under oath all allegiance to any foreign state. My fidelity and allegiance from this day forward is to the United States of America. I pledge to support, honor, and be loyal to the United States, its Constitution, and its laws. Where and if lawfully required, I further commit myself to defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, either by military, noncombatant, or civilian service. This I do solemnly swear, so help me God.

Rights, Duties, and Obligations of U.S. citizenship

Detailed Information from "Citizenship in the Nation"

A citizen has all of the rights granted to people in a given state. These are expressed in rules which specify what an individual may or may not do, and what the State may or may not do. They are usually defined in constitutions or other basic legislation. At a world level they are found in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, one of the first links between the international system and the individual.

Citizens have responsibilities as well. They are expected to vote, pay taxes, obey the law, and perform voluntary public service like serving on juries. Some of these are codified in law, but most are part of the normal expectations of behavior. While international responsibilities are less clear than national ones, they increasingly involve expectations of behavior: as a tourist, one should not pollute or write graffiti on national monuments; one should recycle in the interest of a global good; one should not SPAM on the Internet.

And citizens have authority. This is the central pillar in the architecture. Slaves may have rights and responsibilities, only citizens have authority over their governments. They provide the legitimacy to most governments (absolute monarchies based on Divine Right aside), based on the principle of consent of the governed. They may change government leaders and may determine what constitutes the common good. This idea of legitimacy that was posited by Max Weber as the most effective and least expensive form of power underlies democratic government. Citizen authority has, until recently, extended only as far as the nation-state; it has not reached the international system except on delegation to representatives of states.

International Law V. National (or Municipal) Law

Recognize that the principal feature of municipal law is the existence of a legislature and a court system that can settle legal disputes and enforce the law. At the international level, however, there is no legislature in existence and it is by way of agreements between countries (treaties) that international law is made. This can also be described in the following way:

Understand that the lack of an enforcement mechanism akin to a police force at the international level impedes coercive enforcement. The court system at the international level is one that relies on the acquiescence of the countries to both its jurisdiction and to carrying out the decisions of the court. The court system is well-established at the international level and respected but it lacks the ability to compel a country to come before it, unlike courts in a municipal system which can require a government, company or individual to appear before it.

Notice that the role of politics in international law influences the character of international law profoundly and is more likely to reflect the political interests of the countries than might be the case at the municipal level. International law is made by way of political agreements (treaties) and will be supported or ignored according to the political interests of a country.

  1. Municipal law focuses on the relationship between the states and is concerned with laws within a specific country. International law regulates rules between countries across the globe.
  2. Realize that due process can be completely different depending on the court. Many countries have a legal system that mimics the processes and obligations of the international court system. However, no country matches perfectly, and most have vast differences in process.
  3. Understand that the legislature and court systems are different on the international and municipal levels. Where the municipal level uses a legislature to help enforce and test the laws, the international court system relies on a series of treaties without a legislature which, in essence, makes all countries equal.
  4. Read how the law states enforcement policies. Enforcement is a major difference between municipal and international law. The municipal courts have a law enforcement arm which helps require those it determines to follow the rules, and if they do not they are required to attend court. The international court system has no enforcement and must rely on the cooperation of other countries for enforcement.
  5. Choose whether to follow the law. Municipal law requires that all under its jurisdiction follow the law. However, there is no way to force all countries of the world to recognize the international court system. If a country does not agree with its system or decisions, that country is free to ignore the rulings.

International Law

International law regulates relations between countries (inter-state).

Municipal Law

Municipal law regulates relations within a country (intra-state).

Roles of Major World Organizations

The United Nations

Detailed Role of the UN

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achieving world peace. The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between countries and to provide a platform for dialogue.

The most important role for the United Nations consists of its efforts to work on the most dangerous conflicts among and within States that provide the key motivations for acquiring weapons, including weapons of mass destruction. The United Nations must enhance these efforts to combat this danger at the source. In this context, the Organization should continue to support and encourage efforts at the regional level to cope with the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including to non-state actors, e.g., the proposed Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East, supported by all countries in the region.

There are currently 192 member states, including nearly every recognized independent state in the world. From its headquarters on international territory in New York City, the UN and its specialized agencies decide on substantive and administrative issues in regular meetings held throughout the year. The organization is divided into administrative bodies, primarily:

The World Court (International Court of Justice)

The World Court or more correctly the "International Court of Justice" is a United Nations court that settles disputes between nations.

The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, sharing the building with the Hague Academy of International Law, a private center for the study of international law and with the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Several of the Court's current judges are either alumni or former faculty members of the Hague Academy.

The Court's workload is characterized by a wide range of judicial activity. Its main functions are to settle legal disputes submitted to it by member states and to give advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by duly authorized international organs, agencies and the UN General Assembly. The ICJ has dealt with relatively few cases in its history, but there has clearly been an increased willingness to use the Court since the 1980s, especially among developing countries. The United States withdrew from compulsory jurisdiction in 1986, and so accepts the court's jurisdiction only on a case-to-case basis. Chapter XIV of the United Nations Charter authorizes the UN Security Council to enforce World Court rulings, but such enforcement is subject to the veto power of the five permanent members of the Council ((France, Russia, the United Kingdom, China, and the United States).

World Organization of the Scout Movement

World Organization of the Scout Movement has it's own web site!

The Scout Movement is a voluntary, non-partisan educational movement for young people. Scouting is open to all, regardless of race or creed, in accordance with the purpose, principles and method conceived by its founder Robert Baden-Powell.

Its purpose is to contribute to the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potential as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and global communities. Scouting operates through a network of local groups supported by National Scout Organizations (NSO) in 160 countries.

The World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) is an independent, worldwide, non-profit and non-partisan organization which serves the Scout Movement. Its purpose is to promote unity and the understanding of Scouting's purpose and principles; while facilitating its expansion and development.

It has had consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 1947. It is recognized by the majority of UN agencies and governments and works in collaboration with other agents in the world of education and civil society.

The organs of the World Organization are:

WOSM Facts and Figures

The World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.

In the 21st century, health is a shared responsibility, involving equitable access to essential care and collective defense against transnational threats.

Introductory Brochure for WHO

All About The WHO

Amnesty International

"Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues... Ever since we started campaigning in 1961, we’ve worked around the globe to stop the abuse of human rights." Amnesty International ©

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence and to provide them with assistance. It directs and coordinates the international relief activities conducted by the Movement in situations of conflict. It also endeavours to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles.

Established in 1863, the ICRC is at the origin of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.


C.A.R.E. (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere)

CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. We place special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve basic education, prevent the spread of HIV, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity and protect natural resources. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helps people rebuild their lives.

Mission (As stated by C.A.R.E.)

Our mission is to serve individuals and families in the poorest communities in the world. Drawing strength from our global diversity, resources and experience, we promote innovative solutions and are advocates for global responsibility. We facilitate lasting change by:

Guided by the aspirations of local communities, we pursue our mission with both excellence and compassion because the people whom we serve deserve nothing less.

C.A.R.E. Home


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