The global citizens movement is a constellation of organized and overlapping citizens' groups seeking to foster global solidarity in policy and consciousness. The term is often used synonymously with the anti-globalization movement or the global justice movement.[1]


The concept of global citizenship first emerged in the 4th Century BCE among the Greek Cynics, who coined the term “cosmopolitan” – meaning citizen of the world. The Stoics later elaborated on the concept, and contemporary philosophers and political theorists have further developed it in the concept of cosmopolitanism, which proposes that all individuals belong to a single moral community.[2]

The twenty-first century has seen increasing calls for global citizenship in light of how transportation and technology—are binding disparate parts of the world more closely together than ever before. Authors as Paul Raskin,[3] Paul H. Ray,[4] David Korten,[5] and Gus Speth[6] have argued for the existence of a latent pool of tens of millions of people ready to identify with a global consciousness, such as that captured in the Earth Charter. Organizations such as Oxfam International believe that a global citizens movement rooted in social and economic justice is emerging and is necessary for ending global poverty.[7] The Global Scenario Group likewise identified such a movement as the key change agent in a Great Transition to a socially and ecologically sustainable future.[8] A more recently formed group vying for a sustainable global future through international unification via an international federation are the Young World Federalists.[9]

A global citizens movement would differ from the existing fragmented civil society organizations and social movements in that such campaigns and movements tend to be issue-specific rather than united in a shared struggle for a socially just and ecologically sustainable global society and the establishment of an institutional structure to support it.


Skeptics[who?] of the notion of a global citizens movement question whether or not a high enough level of global solidarity can emerge in light of nationalism, racism, and the dominance of the Westphalian state system[citation needed]. However, other scholars point out that the historical emergence of nationalism must have felt just as improbable in a time of warring city-states, and yet in retrospect appears inevitable.[10]

In their book Multitude, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri offer a more radical critique that posits Michel Foucault's notion of a “plurality of resistance” as the only legitimate path forward.[11] Instead of leadership and organizational structures, Hardt and Negri put faith in the emergence of spontaneous coherence due to self-organized networks among various autonomous resistance movements. However, it remains unclear how a network of autonomous movements would differ in practice from a global citizens movement.

See also


  1. ^ Susan George, "Global Citizens Movement: A New Actor for a New Politics," Conference on Reshaping Globalisation: Multilateral Dialogues and New Policy Initiatives, Central European University, Budapest, October 18, 2001,
  2. ^ Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (New York: W.W. Norton, 2006).
  3. ^ Paul Raskin, World Lines: Pathways, Pivots, and the Global Futures (Boston: Tellus Institute, 2006),
  4. ^ Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson, The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2000).
  5. ^ David Korten, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2007).
  6. ^ James Gustave Speth, Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment. A Citizen's Agenda for Action (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004).
  7. ^ Oxfam International, Towards Global Equity: Oxfam International's Strategic Plan, 2001 – 2006 (Oxford, UK: Oxfam International, 2001).
  8. ^ Paul Raskin, Tariq Banuri, Gilberto Gallopín, Pablo Gutman, Al Hammond, Robert Kates, and Rob Swart, Great Transition: The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead (Boston: Stockholm Environment Institute, 2002), See also the sequel to Great Transition: Paul Raskin, Journey to Earthland: A Great Transition to Planetary Civilization (Boston: Tellus Institute, 2016),
  9. ^ Young World Federalists. (2020). ABOUT | YWF. [online] Available at:
  10. ^ Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (New York: Verso, 1991); Chella Rajan, Global Politics and Institutions (Boston: Tellus Institute, 2006),
  11. ^ Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (London: Penguin Books, 2004); Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality (New York: Vintage Books, 1980).

Further reading