Why World Citizenship?

The following is excerpted from “World Citizenship: A Global Ethic for Sustainable Development,” based on a concept paper written by Baha’i International Communtiy and shared at the first session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, New York, U.S.A., 14-25 June 1993

“World citizenship begins with an acceptance of the oneness of the human family and the interconnectedness of the nations of ‘the earth, our home.’ While it encourages a sane and legitimate patriotism, it also insists upon a wider loyalty, a love of humanity as a whole. It does not, however, imply abandonment of legitimate loyalties, the suppression of cultural diversity, the abolition of national autonomy, nor the imposition of uniformity. Its hallmark is ‘unity in diversity.’

“…Fostering world citizenship is a practical strategy for promoting sustainable development. So long as disunity, antagonism and provincialism characterize the social, political and economic relations within and among nations, a global, sustainable pattern of development can not be established. Over a century ago, Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’i Faith, warned, ‘The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.’ Only upon a foundation of genuine unity, harmony and understanding among the diverse peoples and nations of the world, can a sustainable global society be erected.

“The concept of world citizenship is not new to the world community. It is both implicit and explicit in a host of UN documents, charters and agreements, including the opening words of the UN Charter itself: ‘We the peoples of the United Nations … ‘ It is already being promoted around the world across all cultures by diverse NGOs, academics, citizens’ groups, entertainers, educational programs, artists, and media. These efforts are significant but need to be greatly increased. A carefully planned and orchestrated, long-term campaign to foster world citizenship, involving all sectors of society — local, national and international — needs to be put into place. It must be pursued with all the vigor, moral courage and conviction that the United Nations, its member states and all willing partners can muster.”

(The full text from which the above is excerpted may be seen at http://statements.bahai.org/93-0614.htm.)