The Thief and the Guru: A 2021 New Year's Tale

By David Gallup

Garry Davis, the founder of the World Citizenship Movement, had two gurus who helped him understand what it means to be a world citizen. I was in my mid-20s when I started working with Garry at the World Service Authority. Garry, who was in his 70s, became my guru and shared his lifetime of worldly wisdom.

Garry once said to me, "One guru is worth a hundred thieves."

I said, "What do you mean? Why would you compare a guru to a thief?"

He repeated, "One guru is worth a hundred thieves." Garry continued, "One person of heart is worth a hundred people of head. One thief is worth a hundred people of heart. And, one guru is worth a hundred thieves."

My eyes were wide, and I had a confused look on my face. Garry told the following tale:

"One person of heart - that is a person of action, someone who acts from emotion - is worth a hundred people of head because a person of head is stuck in their thoughts. The person of head may have great thoughts, but unless they are willing to act on those thoughts, nothing will change.

Now the problem with the person of heart is that they may not have thought through their actions, so their actions will have little impact. This is what brings us to the thief.

One thief is worth a hundred people of heart because the thief, if they are a successful thief, will have taken painstaking efforts to plan their theft. Because they are a thief, they are willing to go through with it even though they might get caught. So the thief has put the head and the heart together.

But the thief is in the perceptual world, bound by space and time. The thief is in the here and now - the material, relative world. The thief is selfish.

Now, this brings us to the guru. Why is one guru worth a hundred thieves? Because the guru puts the head and the heart together in an ethical framework for understanding the world around them.

The guru is in the conceptual world, the world of values. The guru is a teacher. The guru gives to others and is for others. The guru is selfless. The guru is free and has no Karma to deal with. The guru has found the truth and is one with truth. The guru sees the world as one and views everything holistically.

One guru is worth a hundred thieves because the guru not only thinks about the morality and helpfulness of their actions before they take them, but they also act selflessly to help those around them."

Why is "The Thief and the Guru" an important New Year's tale? Given the extraordinarily challenging year that humanity endured in 2020, it is a reminder for us to think and act like a guru as we begin a new year. It is a reminder to let our thoughts and emotions work together to create purposeful action.

Acting like a guru in this way is challenging because of the values that the nation-state system has instilled in us. We have been taught to think exclusively about and encouraged to love our individual nations as if national citizenship is the pinnacle of our identity. The guru teaches us the ethical power of world citizenship, guiding our hearts and minds toward world unity.

Voice, one of humanity's most powerful tools, literally and metaphorically connects our hearts and heads. Through our voice, we can share our thoughts and feelings about what kind of world we want. Through our voice we can advance world citizenship to help us to achieve world peace. May we each be inspired to think, feel and speak like the guru in 2021.

_________________________________________________________ Read my upcoming blog in February to learn about Garry's experience with two gurus.


Building Global Unity through Tolerance and Universal Rights

December 10, 2020

By David Gallup

Today marks the 72nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Two related documents also celebrate significant anniversaries this year: the 25th anniversary of the Declaration of the Principles on Tolerance and the 75th anniversary of the United Nations Charter. Both Declarations and the Charter provide a framework for building unity in a diverse world.

The impetus for creating the Declaration on Tolerance was, as the Declaration's Preamble states, "the current rise in acts of intolerance, violence, terrorism, xenophobia, aggressive nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, exclusion, marginalization and discrimination." These acts dramatically impact the rights of vulnerable groups and threaten the development of peace and democracy in the world.

The Preamble to the United Nations Charter implores us "to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours."

On the anniversary of both Declarations and the Charter, we celebrate the strides we have made to practice tolerance; at the same time, we recognize that much work remains to be done to advance tolerance and respect for universal rights.

What does it mean to engage tolerance in society?

Tolerance involves active learning about and respecting the ways that our fellow humans live their lives. Tolerance means learning other languages, cultures, beliefs, identities, and practices as well as ecological principles. Article 1 of the Declaration on Tolerance provides a comprehensive definition of tolerance:

Tolerance doesn't mean complete acceptance of others' words, behaviors, or actions. As the Declaration on Tolerance states, tolerance doesn't require "concession, condescension or indulgence . . . social injustice or the abandonment or weakening of one's convictions." We need not sit idly by and tolerate others' intolerance.

Tolerance involves ethical engagement in the world that we all share, affirming our responsibilities to everyone as fellow citizens and to the Earth as our home. Tolerance means having a holistic awareness of the mutual benefit to implementing our universal rights.

How do we achieve tolerance in society?

Education is vital to achieving tolerance. Article 26(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms the connection between education, tolerance, and human rights: "Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups."

Additionally, equal access to information, sustainable development, ethical governance, and just laws can advance both tolerance and universal rights.

What is the connection between tolerance and universal rights?

Universal rights and tolerance are interdependent: one cannot exist without the other.

To create awareness of the connection between tolerance and universal rights, we must speak up, speak out, and take action. We must pay attention to the needs of our fellow humans and to the needs of our planet. Working together, we can save the Earth from climate destruction and save humanity from inequality, injustice, and violence -- which occur when tolerance and human rights are ignored.

If we want a just world, we must ensure that tolerance and universal rights prevail.

How does tolerance relate to a peaceful and governed world?

Like the Declaration on Tolerance, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not binding treaty law that requires governments to respect the Declarations' mandates. This lack of legal engagement internationally is why we must consider developing enforceable world law as the basis for a world community that respects and protects diversity. The creation of global, participatory institutions of law, such as a World Parliament and a World Court of Human and Environmental Rights, will help us to achieve tolerance and respect for universal rights.

As we deal with inequality and injustice, world health, structural violence, and climate destruction, tolerance is a mode of participation that all citizens of the world can embrace. Living a world-citizen way of life means not only respecting universal rights, but also considering how we will interact peacefully, ethically, and sustainably with our fellow humans, with all other life on Earth, and with the Earth itself.

For our continued existence on our home planet and for a potential interstellar existence, we must realize what it means to be world citizens who exercise tolerance in all aspects of our lives.


Pandemic of Racism

By David Gallup

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

-- Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail

How many lives have been extinguished by the pandemic of racism?

Like a biological virus, racism is spread from person to person by what people teach and say to their family members and friends. It is spread by ignorance and nurtured by hatred and indifference.

Unlike a biological virus, racism immediately affects everyone who is targeted and leaves indelible lifelong wounds.

Racism does not only become lethal in the hands of those who inhabit the halls of power and privilege; racism resides throughout society. The world has been built on inequality, xenophobia, and oppression. Racism has been institutionalized and systematized. The system of exclusive nation-states has further exacerbated structural violence and cycles of discrimination. The foundations that humans have used to construct our world are unequal and unstable. The world that is our home is failing much of its inhabitants. The entire house will fall if we do not return to the drawing board to design and build an inclusive and just foundation.

What is the antidote to racism?

If we want to have a world that works for everyone, we need to teach children from infancy not only the principles but also the practices of inclusion, empathy, listening, sharing, respect, equality, and justice. These lessons must not end when youth ends; adults must continually educate themselves and be cognizant of how their words and actions impact those around them.

Stopping racism requires a holistic approach. Racism must be recognized and eliminated from every aspect of society. Stopping racism requires us to question how we are running our world. Is our competitive economic and political system that pits human against human, group against group, ethical? How we govern ourselves, or neglect to govern our world, inordinately affects people due to their race and ethnicity.

The hyper-nationalistic and corporate control of human and natural resources embeds racism in the wheels of production, consumption, and day-to-day existence. We are taught to see our fellow humans as "others" against whom we must compete, and oftentimes fight, for supremacy. Rarely are we taught, let alone encouraged to practice, how to be allies of one another, rather than competitors.

A holistic approach to stopping racism takes into account the health of humanity and the earth. It will ensure that our rights and duties are universally respected. And it will seek equality and justice in all aspects of human-to-human interaction, as well as human-to-earth interaction.

The laws that we create help determine how we will interact with one another. Racism and discrimination are outlawed in many national and international codes of conduct. For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Persons (UNDRIP) affirm the principles of equality and justice.

The Preamble and Articles 1, 2 and 26 of the UDHR affirm everyone's equality and right to be free from racism. Article 2 specifically states, "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status."

The Preamble and Articles 8 and 46 of the UNDRIP reiterate the antidiscrimination principles of the UDHR. The Preamble states "that all doctrines, policies and practices based on or advocating superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin or racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust." Article 8(2)(e) specifically states, "States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for: Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or ethnic discrimination."

The problem is not the lack of laws against racism, it is how and whether those laws are implemented. When the institutions of society and government do not fairly represent everyone in the community, then the laws will not be implemented fairly, or at all. Laws, in the end, will never be enough to stop racism. We need to protest for change, listen and be allies for change, learn and educate for change, vote for change, and run for office for change.

We need to run on a platform of building an ethical and inclusive social and governmental system for the whole world. This means creating a just system and an equitable justice system, one that does not treat some people as lesser, and others as better, or above the law.

To have a peaceful, free and sustainable world, it must be a just world. As citizens of the world, we are all directly responsible for rooting out injustice anywhere and for seeking justice for everyone, everywhere.

Black lives matter.

Scarcity or Abundance?

By David Gallup

The COVID-19 virus is not the first pandemic to seriously impact humanity, nor will it be the last. This global crisis and existential threat provides an opportunity for humans as a species to determine how we will interact with one another and the earth from now on. We can choose a coordinated, interdependent, and holistic approach, or we can continue haltingly and in vain to deal with global issues selfishly in an ungoverned world.

Beyond a Nationalistic Strategy

A virus that impacts everyone necessitates a world citizen-focused response.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the UN agency attempting to coordinate efforts of national governments in their response to the pandemic. While structures like the WHO encourage local governments to heed their policy recommendations, they have no power to enforce their suggested courses of action. National governments may arbitrarily refuse to follow those guidelines within their self-imposed borders. National governments do what is in their self-interest or that of their leaders' economic and political priorities. Human-made borders, we have realized, do very little to contain a virus in a free world.

In its proposed 2020-2021 budget, the WHO will receive almost five billion dollars from UN Member-States. This is a miniscule amount of money compared to the two trillion dollars that national governments spend preparing for and waging wars every year. Not only is the WHO underfunded, but also national health institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health are severely underfunded in comparison to the life-saving work that they are doing.

It's not a question of whether the world has the resources and funds to support the health and well-being of all humans and the earth; it is a question of priorities.

National leaders frequently appeal to the security concerns of citizens in expanding military budgets, while ignoring the impact that poor health and environmental degradation has on these same citizens. They argue about scarcity -- limited funds and resources should be directed at national military defense, rather than health care, sustainable development, and ecological conservation.

To the detriment of all, national self-defense supersedes defense of people and planet.

Scare City

In times of crisis, individuals begin to act in panic mode. They become self-absorbed, thinking only about self-preservation. This is understandable because fear and protection of oneself and one's family are strong motivators of behavior.

Perceived scarcities have created real Scare Cities -- people living in states of fear. The individual behaves like a mini nation-state setting up borders, raising their self-interest above all other concerns, and fending off those they perceive as a threat. This selfish mentality has presented itself in the hoarding of toilet paper, sanitizers, and, most importantly medical supplies that first responders, health care workers, and hospitals desperately need.

To help everyone through this crisis, local governments should establish a voucher system to assist those who have no salary or income. And there should be total loan forgiveness on necessities like groceries, medical supplies, housing, and education. Governments could easily provide digital or physical vouchers to everyone each month to pay for necessities. It just means that we need to change priorities from using money to wage wars and build walls, to using money to pay for livingry -- tools that support and enhance all life.


Resources are abundant in the world. We can feed, clothe, house, educate, and provide for every human being on the planet, but only if we choose to use and share resources sustainably to help people and protect the earth.

Instead of building weapons like war planes and nuclear bombs, funds and resources must be redirected to advancing both earth and human health as well as environmental and human rights. Currently, less than half of the world's population has universal health coverage. Global institutions devoted to the rule of law, such as a World Court of Human and Environmental Rights and a World Peace Force, should replace the wastefulness of vast national armies. Think how much humanity could do to ensure healthcare and safe infrastructures for everyone on the planet with the two trillion dollars that national governments spend annually on waging wars.

Our failure to implement global approaches to global crises will inevitably lead to higher death tolls from wars, pandemics, and climate change. How many deaths will occur if we fail to implement a coordinated global system?

Moreover, the human response to this crisis must not be about saving any one economy; it must be about saving individual lives, humanity and the earth as a whole. Human and earth survival are interconnected. We must develop a human and earth consciousness, as well as a governing system that matches this holistic awareness, in order to prevent humanity's extinction.

What we do now will determine our fate. How seriously will we take our responsibility as world citizens toward each other and the earth? This is a test of our humanity.


Davis and Goliath

By David Gallup
A New Year's Parable
The massive Palace stood as a fortress alongside the River Seine. The edifice of power was built, stone upon stone, carrying an aura of ceaselessness as it rose high into the sky. Bronze statues of the gods held guard.
Now the national leaders gathered in the Palace, squabbling over the interests of their subjects, would-be citizens. In the grand meeting hall, the leaders gave selfish speech after selfish speech, sheathed in eloquence, about what they demanded for their own. Outside the chamber, the voice of the world's people, themselves, was mute. Though not for long.
With typewriter, bible and sleeping bag in tow, Garry Davis arrived at the Palace, which had been declared "international territory" by the powers that be. For seven days, undocumented and undaunted, he camped on the steps of the Palace to the delight of the press and the world public. One calm and peaceful individual outside, in stark contrast to the hundreds of bombastic and belligerent national leaders inside.
The presence of "Le petit homme" (the little man) was a thorn in the leaders' side. How could they continue their pretense of "maintaining peace" between nations when one stateless individual could reveal their impotence? How could they help all of the world's citizens, when they did not even know how to assist one individual world citizen? One of the highest officials representing the nations declared, "Davis is a world baby. Our Charter does not foresee being a nursemaid. States may join our organization. Diapered citizens may not!" The embarrassed nations forcefully and illegally removed Davis from the grounds of the Palace and attempted to put him back into the nation-state box.
This was Davis's second stand against the stalwart nation-state system, the first being his renunciation of exclusive citizenship to one nation, in favor of an inclusive embrace of all of humanity.
Time and again throughout his life, Davis spoke truth to power. Just a few months after camping out at the nations' Palace, Davis and 20 compatriots interrupted another session of squabbling national leaders. This was Davis's third stand against the "divide and conquer" power elite. From the balcony, this time inside the Palace, Davis implored, "I interrupt you in the name of the people of the world not represented here. Though my words may be unheeded, our common need for world law and order can no longer be disregarded. We, the people, want the peace which only a world government can give."
He continued, "The sovereign states you represent divide us and lead us to the abyss of Total War. I call upon you no longer to deceive us by this illusion of political authority. I call upon you to convene forthwith a World Constituent Assembly to raise the standard around which all can gather, the standard of true peace, of One Government for One World."
"And if you fail us in this, stand aside, for a People's World Assembly will arise from our own ranks to create such a government. We can be served by nothing less."
Attempting to free himself and humanity from the shackles of the divisive nation-state, Davis continued to stand up to Goliath.
Whether it was from his "Cabane du Bonheur" (Cabin of Happiness) built on the divide between France and Germany or from his seated position in the middle of the Allenby Bridge between Israel and Jordan, Davis exposed the injustice and violence of human-made borders.
Like the Bible's Goliath, the nation-state is armed to the hilt. These weapons and national governments' hubris, Davis knew, would be their undoing. Through his words and actions, he exposed the artifice of a system built upon the false belief that independent nations could protect individuals within their frontiers. Davis revealed that the nation-state system was crumbling under the weight of the world's problems.
Unlike the Bible's David, Davis was armed only with his quick thinking and sense of humor. His claim of world citizenship and his World Passport were his tools of revolutionary change.
Garry Davis wasn't a hero because he was a bomber pilot and fought for the nation; he was a hero because he renounced war and killing. He gave up the comforts that the state would have provided him. He went to jail to expose the injustice of the national war system. And he spent his entire adult life teaching us to unite as world citizens -- to achieve a peaceful world.
Davis once wrote, "If spending time in the jails of the world would further the understanding of one world and one humankind, then I would gladly forfeit my freedom again this very day. For it is my considered opinion that this understanding alone is the sine qua non of world peace."
Davis had to be brave to challenge a system that called him "kooky," "misfit," "crazy," and "utopian" -- to stand up to injustice against our fellow humans and the earth.
Do we want the nation-state Goliath to run our lives? Do we want to bow down to a system that separates us, human from human, and makes us believe that we must fight one another?
Garry Davis taught us that as world citizens we have the power to create an ethical system to govern our world. We have the right and responsibility to build a sustainable, just and peaceful world. This isn't just a message for the New Year; this is a message for all time.


The Right to Know our Rights

and the Right to Have our Rights Respected:

71st Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

By David Gallup

As we celebrate the 71st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on December 10th, let's consider how awareness and implementation of our human rights can have a dramatic impact on world peace, justice and sustainability.

According to the UDHR Preamble, attainment of our rights depends upon the people of the world raising awareness of and enforcing human rights principles. The framers of the Declaration considered that recognition and observance of our rights will follow from 1) human rights education -- a common understanding of our rights and 2) human rights law -- embedding our rights in the rule of law locally, regionally and globally.

1) Human Rights Education

Upon the promulgation of the Declaration in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly called on the public "to cause it [the Declaration] to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions." The Assembly further proclaimed that "every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms..."

Furthermore, Article 26 of the Declaration not only affirms that "everyone has the right to education," but also that "education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms." According to the drafters of the Declaration, a portion of everyone's education should be devoted to learning about our universal rights.

In 2011, the UN adopted an additional declaration, the Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training to acknowledge the "fundamental importance of human rights education and training in contributing to the promotion, protection and effective realization of all human rights." This Declaration seeks

Human rights education has been and continues to be a significant objective in United Nations' strategy for realizing human rights. Article 1 of the Education Declaration states,

  1. Everyone has the right to know, seek and receive information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms and should have access to human rights education and training.
  2. Human rights education and training is essential for the promotion of universal respect for and observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, in accordance with the principles of the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights.
  3. The effective enjoyment of all human rights, in particular the right to education and access to information, enables access to human rights education and training.

The UN continues to highlight education in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. One of the seventeen goals focuses on education and specifically refers to human rights. Goal 4.7 states, "By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture's contribution to sustainable development."

Education matters: if we do not know our rights, we cannot claim them. If we cannot claim our rights, we cannot exercise them. If we cannot exercise our rights, we cannot achieve a peaceful, just, and sustainable world.

Although education is key to achieving our rights, how effective has our global human rights education been? The majority of the world's children, more than 90 percent, attend primary school; yet, few have been educated about human rights. Some students learn about the Declaration in high school social studies or history classes. But only 38% of the world's population has any education past the age of 15. If children have not learned about the UDHR by the time they are in secondary school, then they may never learn about it. Therefore, global human rights education must start in primary schools.

Education fulfills the first half of the mission of securing "universal respect, effective recognition and observance" of our rights. Human Rights Law fulfills the second half.

2) Human Rights Law

To achieve universal observance of our rights, the UDHR urges us to incorporate and enforce human rights principles in our laws from local to global.

Human rights do in appear our laws, from the highest level laws to local civic codes. Jus cogens (peremptory norms of international law), the UN Charter (Articles 55 and 56), the UDHR, the two International Covenants, regional human rights conventions, and topical human rights treaties reaffirm our innate and unalienable rights. A majority of national constitutions mention some rights or freedoms of the people. And every constitution affirms that the authority of government derives from the will of the people.

Realization of our universal rights requires more than education and the law. Although many laws reaffirm human rights principles, we cannot reliably depend upon governments alone to uphold the law. We, the people, must stand up for our own rights and for the rights of others, who are disempowered and oppressed. And we must stand up for the rights of the earth that far too long have been ignored.

We need to assert our rights through judicial action (through the courts), through legislative action (through our parliaments and referenda), through political action (through the power of our vote and participation in government), through economic pressure and nonviolent action (through civil society and public protests), and through institutional progress (through global mechanisms such as a World Court of Human Rights, a World Environmental Court, and a World Parliament).

Our humanity and the earth already unite us. By recognizing our status as world citizens, we can begin to work together to achieve universal awareness and realization of our rights. On this 71st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let's take action for the Universal Implementation of Human Rights.



By David Gallup

"Being a part of a World Citizen Club helps students have a better understanding of the different issues our world faces today. They have a chance to come up with different solutions and ideas and learn from one another."
-- Semawit, World Citizen Club Member

As the school year begins, the World Service Authority (WSA), along with its co-sponsor Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS), is launching World Citizen Clubs on college, university, and high school campuses around the world. The WSA and CGS are nonprofit organizations that promote world citizenship, universal human rights, and global structures of law for a peaceful, just and sustainable world.

What is the World Citizen Club Program?

WSA and CGS encourage students to advance the mission of world peace through world citizenship and world law. The World Citizen Club Program, a grassroots movement, engages teens and young adults in world citizenship education and activism, inspiring students to become world peacemakers.

Individual World Citizen Clubs will endeavor to

1. Advocate and Educate

2. Build Community

3. Support awareness of and respect for universal rights and world citizenship

Students in World Citizen Clubs will engage in educational, service, and social events and projects that promote world citizenship, world peace, and human rights. Clubs will provide students with the opportunity to take local action on global issues.

How to Create a World Citizen Club

Creating a World Citizen Club on campus is a simple process. Students speak with their friends and classmates to find potential club members. They find a faculty advisor, draft a club constitution, register their club with World Service Authority, and promote the club at the beginning of each semester during club and student activities fairs. Once the club is launched, students schedule periodic meetings, events and projects to engage club participants and the wider school community in world citizenship activities.

Examples of Club Events and Projects

Benefits for Students

For More Information

Visit the Club's website: Students, faculty and staff will find tools and materials to create a World Citizen Club on their campus. The website includes guides and information such as a 5-page Club Start-Up Guide, which explains the benefits of the club, how to create a club, and suggested events, projects and programs. Sample club constitutions, terms of behavior, brochures, and promotional flyers are also available at the website.

Contact Us

We look forward to hearing from students who are interested in starting clubs on their campuses. Please email us at

Peace Starts with You -- Insist on Peace!

By David Gallup

Garry Davis said that world peace begins with each of us putting the earth first: "Because it is your world! You are the 'center' of it. It revolves around you! You were born to it. And willy-nilly, you are already in it; in fact on it! And like it or not, you are therefore responsible for it ... for the good and the bad. What is required is our individual commitment to one world and humanity first, and ourselves and our particular country second."

In a recent tweet, spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said that world peace starts with the individual finding personal peace: "The creation of a more peaceful and happier society has to begin from the level of the individual, and from there it can expand to one's family, to one's neighborhood, to one's community, and so on."

When we recognize that the individual is a microcosm of humanity and that peace is a life-long process, the individual can seek both individual peace and world peace simultaneously. World peace depends upon the intertwining of the one and the many seeking peace.

Finding Inner Peace and Outer Peace

When we learn and build inner peace for ourselves as individuals, we can expand our knowledge and skills to help others learn and build outer peace.

If we see people in need, people suffering, people facing oppression and violence, we must find a way to help them. It could be speaking up or speaking out, lending a hand, checking in, sending clothing, making a donation, offering a shoulder to cry on, sharing food, providing free medical or other support, offering a safe haven, etc. In other words, we should act towards one another non-violently.

The term "non-violence" defines an action or state of being by using the opposite of how we should act as part of the term. Because people should focus on what we need to do to achieve peace, rather than what we shouldn't do, it is important to use a positive term to describe how we can effect change in our world, both as individuals and collectively. Encouraging people to "act peacefully" is no longer enough to achieve dramatic change in how humans interact. We must now compassionately insist upon peace in our own lives and in our collective interactions. I suggest we use the stronger term "peace insistence" instead of "acting peacefully" or "non-violence."

Peace insistence* is more than a commitment to acting non-violently. It is a question of ensuring that your interactions, your behavior, and that of others be conducted peacefully, that you consciously and consistently choose peace over aggression, and that you begin by finding peace in your own heart and mind.

The underlying elements of peace insistence are love, empathy, healing, and moving together and toward one another. Individual peace and world peace require us to move beyond non-violent action to peace insistence.

Peace Insistence through World Citizenship

If individuals do not have inner peace, it is difficult for them to participate in endeavors to build external peace in their surroundings, let alone build a loving, accepting, just, free, sustainable, and peaceful community.

Institutions reflect the values and ethics of those who create them. If individuals have suffered violence, exclusion, discrimination, harassment, poverty, oppression, etc., then the institutions they make will likely consciously or subconsciously have those experiences weaved into the fabric of the organizational structures, policies, politics, and milieu.

The current system of national division encourages killing, greed, and environmental degradation by exalting profit and competition over societal health, demanding incessant economic growth that favors the few over the many, and maintaining power dynamics with inherent structural violence.

The national-focused framework for human interaction values war and preparing for war over peace and building peace. Just one quarter of the trillion dollars that national governments spend on maintaining and "defending" fictional borders, would be enough for local communities to successfully deal with abuse, human trafficking, power dynamics, gender and different-identity othering, illiteracy, homelessness, corruption, global warming, toxic environment, and the lack of conflict analysis and resolution/non-violent communication skills.

At this point, humans have created too many complex problems threatening the earth and humanity's survival. These problems can only be handled with complex, indigenous and unified processes. Humans do not have to agree on everything in order to agree that we would rather have a world than have none.

Causes of violence and conflict are rooted both in local and international frameworks, in our individual lives and in the wider society. We cannot apply processes of peace to resolve the root causes of violence with either/or approaches: local peace requires world peace; world peace requires local peace; and all peace requires individual peace.

By developing peace insistence skills and an understanding of our common identity as world citizens, individuals and institutions can be of value to each other in the process of dealing with root causes of negative conflict and violence.

World citizenship is about acceptance of "the other" as if the other is related to us -- as if the other is us but just separated by a different physical body, different experiences, and different education. World citizenship can help us create a "we and we" (or simply "we") mentality (rather than an "us versus them" mentality). World citizenship can help us to meet people where they are, to listen and become aware of distinct voices and values, and to appreciate those distinctions even if the temptation is to automatically reject those distinctions.

Peace activist Azeezah Kanji says that we need to establish a "paraversal" community, meaning that uni-versal may not take into account all voices and values. "Universal" might drown out or dilute our individuality. We need a community that incorporates as well as transcends all diverse voices. We need an intersectional and parasectional community.

World citizenship brings people together to share their unique voices in developing solutions to global problems. Coming together as world citizens is not only about averting future crises; it is also about mitigating the crises we already face and perhaps finding a new sustainable path. Social, economic, political, ecological, local, and global peace require us to use all the tools we have and that we can imagine. World citizenship is about imagining, creating, and educating about a world system that can work for all.

Peace Insistence through Education

World citizenship engages change within and outside of individuals and institutions, within local spaces and within the world space. Change toward peaceful coexistence is dependent upon individuals as well as the institutions they develop having a world citizenship education and mentality.

How we educate youth and offer continuing education to adults will dramatically impact whether we will be successful in creating an ethical local and world community. Education is fundamental to all change, growth, and opening our minds to alternative perspectives. By sharing world citizenship ideas, people will become aware of the world and people beyond themselves, their family, friends, and local community.

Everyone already is a world citizen by birth and in fact, but putting into action world citizenship as an ethical framework or system for human interaction requires education and training, just like conflict resolution and collaborative development do. World citizenship is about opening people's minds to the world as one web of life, providing the tools to help foster empathy and conflict resolutions skills internally and externally, at all levels of human interaction and within the individual human. Being a world citizen is about recognizing our link to, and having empathy for, our fellow humans and the earth. That means that we must nurture skills of living indigenously with all other beings and with our parent earth.

World citizenship and world governmental structures are meant to help us learn about and work together on issues that are more efficiently and effectively handled at the world level -- issues that impact the entire earth and all of its inhabitants. Local governments will still govern locally and indigenously.

The tool of world citizen government provides a process of positive interaction of, by, and for the individuals of the world. As a world citizen, you do not give up any lower level allegiance or commitment. You do not give up your individuality. You affirm a commitment to yourself, to other individuals, to humanity, and to the earth -- a commitment to learning how to live together sustainably, a commitment to insist on peace.

Each of us has the right, the power and the duty to commit to peace insistence.


*My definition of Peace Insistence: The individual and the community consciously and consistently engage the tools, skills, strategies and tactics of loving, empathetic self-perception and interaction through non-violent methods, harmonious engagement, sharing, learning and teaching peace, and rights-affirming activism. The process requires affirming to yourself and to those around you that you will choose to think and act peaceably, that you will seek out education to learn the skills of peaceful interaction, and that you will seek self-healing and offer support to everyone in the healing process.

Peace insistence may also contain elements of non-violent action, civil resistance, civil disobedience, non-cooperation, renunciation, withdrawal, civil and political disruption, legal advocacy, mediation, arbitration, non-conformity, individual and group intervention, economic boycott, strike, divestment, positive investment, protest, momentum-building, strategic organizing, long term planning, collaborative development, artistic, musical, scientific, mathematic, ethical, and comedic expression, indigenous creativity, training in peaceful communication, individual and group therapy, and the hundreds of other actions, processes and initiatives that maintain peaceful relationships as an ultimate goal. (See Gene Sharp's list of "198 Methods of Nonviolent Action.")

Simultaneous 70th Anniversaries: Universal Declaration of Human Rights and World Citizenship Movement

By David Gallup

Two moments in recent history have helped us to realize that there is one humanity and one earth:

The first moment was when the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II. These bombs confirmed that humans have the power to eradicate humanity and destroy the entire world.

The second moment was when a rocket was propelled into near earth orbit in 1946, with an attached motion picture camera. The camera captured photographs of the earth as one unified whole.

These two moments provided competing visions, one view of the earth as a fractured planet and another view of the earth as one world. Representing two ends of an ethical spectrum, they forced humanity to choose between a world of destruction and a world of inspiration. Both moments ultimately led to the development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and world citizenship.

Moments such as these helped to inspire Eleanor Roosevelt and Rene Cassin (drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) to establish universal principles to guide humanity, principles that would be applicable to everyone, everywhere. The Declaration was a legal response to the violence and chaos of World War II. The drafters intended to establish a code of conduct for humanity in order to prevent a third world war.

These moments also inspired World War II veteran Garry Davis, as he describes in his memoir My Country is the World, to "willfully withdraw from the co-partnership of citizen and national state and declare himself a world citizen." Garry was ashamed of his own direct participation as a bomber pilot 29,000 feet above the earth dropping bombs on his fellow humans.

1948 was the year that Garry Davis gave up his exclusive allegiance to a country and also the year that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was promulgated. Specifically, this December 10th marks the 70th anniversary of the unanimous adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, now viewed by many legal scholars as customary international law. This year also marks the 70th anniversary of Garry Davis's renunciation of national citizenship in favor of world citizenship, which has been followed by almost 2 million people world-wide who have also claimed world citizenship status.

What can we learn from this joint celebration of the Declaration of Human Rights and Garry's declaration of human unity?

At the heart of the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and at the heart of Garry Davis's claim of world citizenship is the idea that humanity, human rights, and the earth itself, deserve a universal legal status, a universal identity, and a universal governing system. The UDHR drafters and Garry Davis responded to World War II by universalizing rights and by universalizing citizenship.

The UDHR was revolutionary. It created a human rights dialogue, so that people could engage in discussion of our universal freedoms and responsibilities.

Garry Davis's renunciation of national citizenship also was a revolutionary act. He constructed a level citizenship that did not involve violence, war, or oppression to establish a world government.

In 1948, the framers of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights envisioned the Declaration as a tool to teach everyone about our rights. They wanted the global public to demand that governments "secure universal and effective recognition and observance" of our rights, as the Preamble of the UDHR states. They wanted to create "a social and international order" in which everyone could share the world peacefully and in which everyone's rights and needs would be fully met. They envisioned every day as a human rights day.

Both the drafters of the UDHR and Garry Davis knew that if the rights of all human beings were to be upheld, those rights would have to be codified -- written down for all to see, all to learn, and all to implement. As the UDHR's Preamble states, if humans are "not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, then human rights should be protected by the rule of law."

In the halls of the UN, however, the squabbling of the nation-states continued throughout the autumn of 1948. The Russian government and several Soviet Bloc countries were threatening to vote against the Declaration.

If you saw the documentary "The World is My Country" about Garry Davis, you learned that he was instrumental in the unanimous signing of the Declaration. By December of 1948, Garry was world renowned for camping out on the steps of the United Nations when it was holding its General Assembly sessions at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, and for interrupting a session to demand the creation of a world parliament and world government. (His interruption occurred on November 19, 1948.)

On December 9th, 1948, the night before the UN general assembly vote on the Declaration, Garry Davis spoke before a crowd of 20,000 war-weary Europeans at the Velodrome d'Hiver Stadium in Paris. Calling for world government, Garry said, "We can no longer permit ourselves to be led by statesmen who use us as pawns in the game of national interests. We wish to be led by those who represent us directly: we, the individuals of the human community."

This rousing speech made headlines throughout Europe and impacted the representatives of the states considering whether to accept or reject the Declaration. The next day, instead of voting against the UDHR, 8 countries abstained. This meant that 48 countries unanimously accepted the UDHR. Now every member-state of the United Nations, when becoming members, must agree to abide by the Declaration.

It takes moments--like Garry Davis's bold acts of civil resistance--to build momentum.

What does the UDHR and world citizenship tell us as about humanity's roadmap to a peaceful world? Where do we go from here?

It's time to rise up! We need a spark -- like the character Katniss Everdeen -- in the novel The Hunger Games. Or like actual heroes Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and Garry Davis. We need to know that we can each be the spark of world peace, and we need to teach others how to find their spark.

Just as Garry Davis created a movement in 1948 that inspired a global public searching for hope, unity and peace, we need to do the same.

As global warming, perpetual wars, and neo-nationalism threaten the existence of our rights and our human identity, NOW is the time to organize a new world citizenship movement for global change! We need a movement that engages both incremental change through law and institutions, as well as moments of mass resistance.

We need to stage an uprising devised of political theater and activism. We need to interrupt the UN and nation-state system once again. Through coordinated disruption, sacrifice and escalation, we need to show that our world model resolves and transcends the anomalies of the nation-state paradigm. We need to unite universal rights and world citizenship into a movement that people will flock to.

Here are two concrete examples of how the World Service Authority (WSA) is igniting this movement, one through incremental change and one through immediate action:

For incremental change, the World Service Authority, along with partner organization Citizens for Global Solutions, is establishing World Citizen Clubs on high school and university campuses. We are using the theory of change and building momentum simultaneously by educating the minds and inspiring the hearts of youth around the world. World Citizen Clubs will get young adults to start thinking and acting as world citizens, claiming this status for themselves and providing an example for others. Engaging youth will help us to create the moments that lead to momentum in the world citizenship movement.

For immediate action, representatives of WSA's World Citizen Center of Ojai have traveled to Tijuana to stand in support of people fleeing persecution in the Americas and around the world. Along with American Friends Service Committee, we are exposing the inhumanity of militarization and borders that separate humans from humans, perpetuating the divisions that lead to violence and war. We are shining a light on the injustices that refugees, stateless and undocumented people -- millions of our fellow humans -- face on a day-to-day basis.

This 70th anniversary of the UDHR and of modern world citizenship teaches us that we can imagine change, we can organize change, and we can be the change. We can be successful in igniting the world citizenship movement by coordinating our theory of change efforts with momentum from mass non-violent action.

By coordinating the principles of the UDHR and world citizenship, we can advance institutions and identity based on unity, rather than separation -- based on our common needs, rather than our cultural differences. Respect for human rights and recognition of world citizenship strengthens us socially, economically, politically, legally, psychologically, and environmentally.

The strength that we gain through world citizenship and the universalization of human rights will not supplant the nation-state system or threaten local identity. The way to protect the local is to acknowledge the global. By achieving peace at the world level, we can ensure that local culture is preserved rather than destroyed by violence.

After World War II, the drafters of the UDHR and Garry Davis were compelled to imagine a world in which all human beings could live together in harmony. To take that image of peace and portray it in the world writ large, they had to make and be the change that they wanted to see. The drafters had to affirm the universality of our rights and Garry had to affirm the universality of our human identity.

Like the creators of the Declaration of Human Rights and Garry Davis, we must be the drafters and actors of own destiny. We must be the change we want to see in the world!

70th Anniversary of the World Citizen Movement

By David Gallup

On May 25, 1948, Garry Davis stepped out of the US Embassy in Paris after taking the Oath of Renunciation of citizenship. No longer a citizen of one exclusive nation, Garry claimed his status as a citizen of the world.

Why would Garry Davis, a Broadway actor and comedian who just wanted to make people laugh, give up his US citizenship in favor of world citizenship? To answer that question, I will need to take you back to the early 1940s.

As a child and teenager, Garry loved acting. To Garry, the script of a play was like his prayer book and the theatre was like his temple, his mosque, his synagogue, his church, his place of worship. The audience was like his parishioners. He wanted to make the audience happy, and in their laughter, he felt their love.

Garry's dream of a life in theatre and movies came crashing down when he heard the news that his brother Bud had been killed in Salerno on his battleship. Garry's sadness turned to anger and then to revenge. He became a bomber pilot set on destroying Hitler's war factories.

But thousands of feet up in his B-17 airplane, as he was dropping bombs on villages, he knew he was killing women, men and children. His revenge turned to remorse. He would rather have been entertaining these people, making them laugh, rather than killing them.

When he came back from the war, he was disillusioned with the nation-state system that made him kill his fellow humans. He was shell-shocked. He suffered from post-traumatic stress from what he witnessed and from the acts of violence he committed.

He wanted out of the war game. He had heard of a young man who had gone to Europe to rebuild the churches that were destroyed during the war. And he read a book called Anatomy of Peace, by Emery Reves, a book that explained how humans could transcend the problem of war by coming together at the world level. So he decided to go to Paris, legally renounce his US citizenship, and begin to rebuild the world he had helped to destroy.

In his memoir, My Country is the World, he explains why he would give up his citizenship, an act that at that time was considered highly controversial and unpatriotic. He writes, "Homo sapiens, man calls himself. Sapiens: knowing, the perception of truth. But one of the tragedies of our times is that modern man, as man of ages past, doesn't know himself. He has lost confidence in his own innate capacity. He restricts himself. And only then does he yearn to be free."

He continues, "Man's deadliest, self-imposed, restrictive device is nationalism. You and I may be fellow humans, but we are not fellow nationalists. I am a fellow who willfully withdrew from the co-partnership of citizen and national state and declared himself a world citizen. I have for my trouble, hung my hat in 34 prisons and two ships' brigs. If spending time in the jails of the world, however, would further the understanding of one world and one humankind, I would gladly forfeit my freedom again this very day."

Garry saw the world holistically. He viewed the whole world as his home, as his house of worship. He wanted us to see the world, itself, as holy, as a sanctuary for our imagination. He loved to quote Albert Einstein who said that imagination is more important than intelligence.

Garry wanted us to imagine and then create a world that would work for everyone. When he renounced his national citizenship, he became stateless, persona non grata, with no country and nowhere to go. He needed to create an identity and status for himself to ensure that his rights would be respected. This is when he decided to declare himself to be a world citizen, with universal rights that should be universally respected, no matter where he found himself on earth.

Garry Davis devoted his entire adult life to promoting an awareness of this view of the world. Of the world as one. Of the idea that we are all world citizens with rights and duties to each other and the earth.

To create a just, sustainable, equitable, and peaceful world, it's no longer enough to consider ourselves exclusively as citizens of one nation or another. We must all claim our status as world citizens!


You may register officially, legally and politically as a world citizen through the World Service Authority at You do not give up any lower level allegiance by claiming a higher allegiance to humanity and the earth.

Happy Re-Newal Year:

The Human Right to Time

By David Gallup

The New Year provides an opportunity to reflect on time, which is a universal right. How time is celebrated and marked varies worldwide yet impacts all world citizens.

Although many celebrate January 1st as the start of the new year, Chinese celebrate the new year in late January or February, Iranians celebrate in late March, Hindus celebrate in March or April, Buddhists celebrate in April, Jews celebrate in September, Wiccans celebrate at the end of October, and Muslims celebrate based on shifts in the lunar calendar.

When people celebrate the New Year depends upon the calendar in use, which has varied over time, culture, religion and government. Some of the almost 100 different calendars include the Egyptian, Solar, Lunar, Yin-Yang, Mayan, Aztec, Hellenic, Roman, Julian, Celtic, Runic, and Gregorian. So January 1st and all other New Year's celebrations are a human construct, a method of distinguishing how our lives fluctuate in comparison to one another in the space-time continuum.

Why do we choose to celebrate a new year, to put a border on part of our lives with a beginning and an end? Perhaps because we are alive for an infinitesimal amount of time, we want to mark milestones of our survival. We want to recognize the impact we world citizens have had on each other and the world around us. We want to comprehend the preciousness of time and how far humanity has progressed.

The universe moves at its own pace whether or not humans notice how long it takes for the earth to orbit the sun. Though the universe does what it will, we humans want a feeling of control. We celebrate the passage of time, the arrival of a new day, a new year, and the appreciation of what has gone and what is to come to have a sense of agency over how time passes. Self-imposed limits, such as marking of time, provide an appearance of structure, stability and security in an otherwise unpredictable world.

This recognition of time's passing -- the desire to track it, mark it, measure it -- and the feeling of being bound by it is characteristically human, though not only human.

Like humans, our animal cohabitants of the earth also instinctually perceive time. They feel its impact through their visual, olfactory, auditory, gustatory, and tactile senses as well as through balance, motion, and magnetism. Elephants, chimpanzees, dolphins, and magpies recognize moments in time, such as "mourning" the loss of one of their tribe. Even plants and bacteria can sense time through changes in light and internal biochemical processes. An appreciation of the concept of time, and how it is used, is important for all beings, and in particular, humans as world citizens attempting to live together peacefully.

Human's arrangement of time helps us to organize how we behave and interact with each other and the world around us. Our memory captures snippets of time, allowing us to repeat helpful events and actions and to avoid harmful ones. Storytelling, writing and photography, distinctly human capabilities, extend our memory, allowing us to travel through time. We can visit the past, describe the present, or imagine the future. As travelers-through-time, we can evolve as individuals, as humanity, and as part of the universe. We are certainly time keepers. When we recognize our rights and duties as world citizens, we can also be time givers.

Do we become older and wiser over time? Does time give us second and third chances? Does time give perspective?

The only time we can really change is now, how we use time in the perpetual present. Every day provides an opportunity for living anew. Every day is a moment to make each other happy and to treat each other and the earth with respect.

Although time itself has no frontiers, we humans create borders of time to add order to our lives together. To maintain that order, however, as world citizens we know that we do not need to separate one human from another by physical borders. In fact, we all share time, and time is free, in the sense that time is available without humans having to expend any energy to create it. We do need to spend energy in how we choose to use our time. This is where human-made borders, divvying up the earth, favors some humans over others. Thus many people are deprived of their right to time.

How does our control of time empower some of us, and the lack of control subjugate others of us?

If you are living at a subsistence level, all you can do is spend your time working or looking for your next meal. Although we each have a duty to use some of our time to help others and to improve our communities, we also have the right to invest time in personal improvement and in enjoyment and wonder of being alive.

This right to time is affirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):

Article 24 of the UDHR affirms the right to leisure -- meaning that we do not always need to use our time exercising our "right to work." Article 24 states, "Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay."

Article 27(1) of the UDHR provides another outlet for how we may use time. It states, "Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits."

Article 30 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also affirms the right to "participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport."

These affirmations of our right to leisure, to uncontrolled time, are another way of stating that work should not be the ultimate goal of how we "spend" our time. We say "spend" because time, along with being a human right, is also a commodity that has value -- value that can be given, taken, shared, wasted, saved, lost, and gained.

We must cherish time. We must appreciate that we have a right to time. We must reaffirm our commitment to equality of opportunity and equality of outcome with regard to time; it is a duty of everyone to respect how each of us can use the time we have.

Just like having a minimum basic income, we need to have a minimum basic time allotment to spend on ourselves, not working or laboring.

Humans have great intellect. As time passes, we as a species must use our intellect to evolve how we use our time to achieve a sustainable, just and peaceful world. We can create a virtuous cycle of ever-expanding human wisdom and planetary improvement. In addition to promoting time rights and duties to each other, we must also ensure that we use some of our time to protect the earth, or our time will be nil. The time is now to recognize that we must implement a new era of human and earth harmony, together as world citizens.

Happy New Year! Happy New Now! Happy New World!

69th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Unifying Human and Environmental Rights

By David Gallup

Why should we think beyond our humanness to a worldly, earth perspective? Does the earth have a right to exist independently from humans? Do animals, plants and even inanimate objects have rights? How should humans interact with the earth and ecosystem, not as "owners" of the earth, but as caretakers of the planet?

As we celebrate the 69th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 2017, let us take a moment to appreciate the bounty that the earth provides for humanity. It is a time to reflect, not only upon human rights, but also upon the rights of the earth itself. It is time to reflect upon how our human rights are dependent upon environmental rights. And it is time to reflect upon humanity's duty to protect the earth.

Global warming, ozone depletion, rising sea levels, soil erosion, habitat destruction, species extinction, drug, pesticide, plastic and petroleum toxins in groundwater, pollutants in the air, landfills and oceans, deforestation, etc. These human created problems impact all life on the planet and pose a threat to all beings' existence. We must consider how our human actions are violating that most fundamental right -- the right to exist. Although the focus of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) pertains specifically to human rights, several Articles in the Declaration can be construed to provide a basic legal framework for considering environmental rights and duties as part of our human rights and duties.

The Human Focus of the UDHR

In 1948, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed, humans were not fully aware of how our use of the earth and its resources could negatively impact the world. The link between human rights and environmental rights was not yet established. The UDHR focuses specifically on human rights, and only indirectly on environmental rights, for several reasons:

1. The UDHR was created immediately after World War II when the rights of millions of people were violently, and for many lethally, violated. The UDHR was a reaction to the war, to develop laws of peace as an adjunct to the laws of war, with the expectation that once human rights are fully respected, humans would be less inclined to behave aggressively toward one another.

2. The framers of the UDHR wanted to focus on human interactions -- how we treat each other -- in order to build a peaceful world.

3. The conceptualization of other third or fourth generation rights (such as environmental rights) had not yet come into mainstream thought. The earth had for so long been looked upon as human property to exploit solely for human advancement.

4. The scientific studies that reveal how treatment of the environment can impact our ability to claim and exercise our rights had not yet been conducted.

Even though the framers of the UDHR do not directly mention environmental rights, these rights can be deduced from Declaration.

The UDHR and Environmental Rights

We can extrapolate rights related to the earth from five articles of the UDHR: Articles 3, 25, 28, 29 and 30.

Article 3 of the UDHR affirms the rights to live, to freedom and to security: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person." We now know that if the earth dies, we humans die with it. To affirm our life, liberty and security, we have the duty to act towards nature sustainably and indigenously.

Article 25(1) of the UDHR affirms the rights to health and to fulfill basic needs: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control." To advance the standard of living for humanity, we must respect the web of life that supports our health and well-being. To have abundant food and to fulfill our basic needs, we must nourish the land and maintain clean air and water. While considering standards of living, we must also be mindful of how the priority of continuous economic growth, and its concomitant resource usage, negatively impacts the environment. The earth is facing greater and greater strain from human activities that exacerbate natural phenomenon such as hurricanes, wildfires, and seismic activity. When we are not mindful and respectful of nature's infrastructure, nature will wreak havoc on our human infrastructure.

Article 28 of the UDHR affirms the goal of living in a world of order rather than entropy: "Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized." What does a social and international order look like, that allows us to fully realize our rights? That order will come from a holistic world system that equally values both human and environmental rights. That order will come from advocating for the earth. We humans must speak up for the earth, using our "reason and conscience" (as Article 1 states) to voice and implement what the earth needs in order to heal and flourish. That order will come from the awareness of both our rights and duties as world citizens to each other and to the earth.

Article 29 of the UDHR affirms that we humans have duties to each other and the world around us: "(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible. (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations." We must expand the notion of duty to the community to mean duty to the earth as a whole, rather than only to the human community. We must secure the recognition of rights of others with the consideration that "others" includes the environment. We must exercise our rights only to the extent that this exercise does not damage the earth.

Article 30 of the UDHR affirms that humans cannot engage in any activity or perform any act that destroys our rights: "Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein." In this final Article of the Declaration, we find our ultimate human duty to the planet. Destruction of the environment eventually destroys our rights. More than any other human activity, war violates human rights and despoils the environment. Our human rights, and ultimately world peace, are dependent upon healthy, sustainable natural and human environments.

Moving Beyond the UDHR

As our understanding of humanity's link to the earth has evolved, activists and lawmakers have established environmental laws in an attempt to regulate human interaction with the environment. More than 80 declarations, treaties and multilateral conventions have been ratified over the past 75 years in an effort to protect various aspects of the environment. Several of the most well-known, though not yet well-implemented, include the 1972 Stockholm Declaration on the right to a healthy environment, the 1992 Rio Declaration on the protection of the integrity of the earth's ecosystem, the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to reduce greenhouse gases, the subsequent 1997 Kyoto Protocol and 2015 Paris Agreement, and the 1998 Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters. In 2015, 193 countries adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals, of which 8 directly pertain to the environment. National governments have given themselves until 2030 to try to achieve these goals.

As environmental activists have seen nation-state treaties come and go with big fanfare but little positive change, other attempts to declare the rights of the environment have come to the fore. In 2010, at the "World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth," a Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth proclaimed the rights of the earth and all beings and the duties of humans to the earth. Hundreds of thousands of individuals have signed a petition in support of this rights of nature declaration. Activists plan to present more than a million signatures of support to the United Nations on the 70th anniversary of the UDHR next year with the expectation that the UN will adopt the Declaration. As with many declarations and treaties, relying upon the UN or individual nations to enforce their provisions has had limited success.

Despite the plethora of laws and scientific guidelines for humans to follow to be good stewards of the earth, national governments and corporations have blocked progress toward an ecologically sustainable world. It is not necessarily a question of making new laws, which national and corporate leaders will likely ignore; rather, it is a question of enforcing the laws already on the books, engaging the public in protecting the environment, and summoning a united political will. We need to work with one human voice to govern how we treat the earth and all its inhabitants.

Universal Human Rights Require Universal Environmental Rights

Human rights, peace, and environmental activists must work together to achieve universal awareness and respect for all rights. In the future, we may adopt a Universal Declaration of Universal Rights and Duties, a compendium encompassing all human, environmental and other rights and responsibilities. For now, though, uniting as world citizens to implement universal human rights side by side with universal environmental rights is the key to survival of humanity and the earth.


"I speak an open and disinterested language, dictated by no passion but that of humanity... Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world..."

--Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

Why Do We Call Ourselves World Citizens?

By David Gallup

157 years after Thomas Paine wrote The Rights of Man, and after dropping bombs on cities as an air force pilot in WWII, Garry Davis voluntarily gave up his national citizenship and claimed world citizenship. In his autobiography, My Country is the World, he wrote, "Man's deadliest, self-imposed, restrictive device is nationalism. You and I may be fellow humans, but we are not fellow nationalists. I am a fellow who willfully withdrew from the co-partnership of citizen and national state and declared himself a world citizen."

Why did Garry Davis call himself a "world citizen"?

Garry Davis, like Thomas Paine, called himself a "citizen of the world" or "world citizen" because he saw the earth and humanity linked together as one unit, not just as a biosphere or ecosystem in which we are passive onlookers. He saw a human and political governing system sustainably integrated into the environment. He saw the possibility of humans working together to achieve a greater goal, to be more than the sum of individual parts.

He realized that if we humans were to move beyond aggression and war, then we would need to recognize that we are already one human family. We would need to claim a higher citizenship, a higher allegiance to each other and to the earth.

Citizenship is the expression of our rights and duties within a particular communal framework. World citizenship is the recognition that our communal framework is the world as a whole, that we carry our rights and duties with us wherever we are and that the world we share already unites us.

Why should we call ourselves "world citizens" rather than "global citizens"?

The term "global citizen" is a misnomer. The word "global" derives from "globe," meaning ball or sphere. "Global" is an adjective describing a location or place. A global citizen is an individual who happens to live on the earth.

"World citizen," two nouns together, describes an action. A "world citizen" is who you are, what you do, and to what you pledge your allegiance. The word "world" derives from Old English and Dutch, meaning the "age of man." "World" pertains to the life of humans, human existence, humanity, society, civilization, human institutions and the web of interactions among humans and with the environment.

As both a noun and an adjective, "world" is a system. The word "world" describes both the place where humans are and what, together, humans have done with and can make from our surroundings. The "world" is an interconnected system of our actions, reactions, and abilities to transform our relationships with one another and the earth. The word "world" focuses on the human aspect -- the structures and institutions -- of our existence.

You wouldn't say "citizen of the globe." That is not a system. That is a description of where someone finds themselves on a spherical shape or geographic mapping. "Citizen of the world," however, does engage the idea of people working together for a common goal. So, to be a world citizen means that you consider rights and duties of everyone individually and of all of us together towards each other and the planet. It's not just a location. It's not just a description. It is a political statement.

World citizenship is an idea put into action; it is ideals made real. World citizenship embraces action to develop an ethical framework for fulfilling our rights and duties. We have to conceive of the world framework that we want.

This conception of a functional world system requires principle, ideology, strategy and tactics of world citizenship. For a world citizen, the principle is one human family; the ideology is universal rights and duties; the strategy is education of universal principles, rights and duties; and the tactics are the symbols and tools that we engage to promote comprehension of our need to be committed to our planetary and human status, to the rights and duties that we have in the world that we create for each other.

Why is this distinction between "global" and "world" important?

Unlike the term "global," the term "world" constitutes the ethics, structures and institutions of the humenvironmental system that we can choose to create and develop sustainably.

We must claim world citizenship status. National governments cannot prevent us from doing so. They can only restrict horizontal citizenship -- from one nationality to another. They cannot restrict vertical citizenship that transcends the nation.

If you have a "right to a nationality," you also have a right NOT to have a nationality. You have a right to claim a higher allegiance to humanity and the earth. Or you can consider the idea of "nationality" to take a broader perspective of identity, meaning world citizenship status -- meaning the world is our country.

We are citizens of everywhere and everywhen -- wherever and whenever you find yourself in all times and situations. We are each a citizen of everywhere (the whole world). And we are each a citizen everywhere. In other words, wherever you are, wherever you find yourself, you are already a citizen -- with rights and duties, no matter whether you were born in that specific place or not. Having a "state" identity is irrelevant to our innate and unalienable rights that we carry with us wherever we go. The problem with the nation-state, as a challenge to a functioning world system, is that it attempts to exclude; it places "others" outside of its own framework of local law.

As world citizens, we rely on world law, such as Article 6 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law." We have rights and duties inherent to being a world citizen, which must be respected everywhere and for everyone.

We use "world citizen" and not "global citizen" because we need world law -- law for a world system to help us govern ourselves peacefully and sustainably. Global law only pertains to the environment, an ecological framework. World law relates to humans, to our human world, to the myriad of interactions that we have with each other as well as with the planet.

Once the framework of world citizenship is secure, we can unite at an even higher level. With a sustainable system in place in this world, we can then become citizens of the universe.

Why do we claim and must we claim world citizenship?

In a future blog, I will discuss the idea of world citizenship as an organizing principle for a successful, sustainable humanity -- why we do claim and must claim world citizenship.

Nation-state Hypocrisy and the Nuclear Threat

By David Gallup

How can nuclear weapons states, like the United States of America, legitimately demand that other states, like North Korea, cease their research and production of nuclear weapons, when they themselves continue to maintain and upgrade their own arsenals?

Developing, producing and maintaining nuclear weapons are war crimes and crimes against the peace that could lead to the ultimate crime against humanity, omnicide -- the elimination of humanity and the extinction of most life on the planet.

Nuclear weapons development, production and maintenance violate both humanitarian law and human rights law. See the appendix below regarding how nuclear weapons violate the laws of war and the laws of peace.

Despite the international law against nuclear weapons and war, nation-states with nuclear weapons do not want to divest themselves of their nuclear arsenals. The nation-states' highest court, the International Court of Justice, ruled in 1996 that the threat or use of nuclear weapons is illegal, with the exception of use for self-defense -- a loophole that allows governments to maintain the nuclear option. North Korea could claim that its nuclear testing and arms development is for its own protection. What country doesn't invoke self-defense, national security, or national sovereignty as a basis for its aggression?

Humanity finds itself in this quandary because of the nation-state principle of national sovereignty.

We must now turn to a new principle of sovereignty, if we are to transcend the control of nuclear weapons countries who make the false case that their best interests are aligned with the best interests of humanity and the earth.

The Supreme Leader of North Korea thinks he can win a nuclear war. So does the Commander-in-Chief of the United States. These national "leaders" are not rational actors. But neither are the other nuclear weapons heads of state.

These heads of state have no legitimate intention to dismantle all nuclear weaponry, nor to stop aggression generally. National governments want these tools of destruction at their disposal, even arguing that their existence prevents their use. What sane leader would start a nuclear war knowing that global annihilation could occur? Mutually assured destruction does not prevent national leaders from acting irrationally.

Nuclear weapons and nuclear war are not the only nuclear concern. Continued use of nuclear energy is poisoning the planet. The uranium and plutonium used by nuclear power plants has already led to environmental degradation in Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. Enriched plutonium from power plants continues to be made into nuclear weapons. Whether this material is in the hands of national governments, insurgents, or terrorists, its existence threatens our survival.

Outlawing nuclear war, nuclear weapons and nuclear power will begin to remove the threat. To solidify humanity's future, we need to create global institutions of law and engender a global pride in being citizens of the world. We need to establish a consciousness of humanity and the earth as precious, to be protected.

Before the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, under the "old world order" rulers or governments had no compunction about waging war for unabashed self-interest. They considered it an acceptable tool of state-craft. After World War I, the League of Nations and the Kellogg-Briand Pact attempted to make war illegal. In particular after World War II, under the "new world order," governments became reluctant to wage wars of conquest, couching most wars as defensive protection rather than for offensive gain. (See The Internationalists by Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro.)

The UN Charter attempted to establish the conditions in which member-states may use armed force, in particular for self-defense and common defense. Article 2(4) of the Charter states, "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations." Because the Charter maintains national sovereignty as sacrosanct, however, warfare within a state (non-international) remains unchecked.

Both the old world order and the new world order are disorder. Continued lack of unity of the human race under one citizenship perpetuates chaos and is the breeding ground of war. A legitimate world order will arise with a global rule of law that world citizens create through democratic, non-hierarchical and participatory world institutions of law.

Sanity in governance requires higher level sovereignty with human and whole earth thinking. Sanity requires human government -- world citizens' government. A future for humanity requires sanity, sincerity, and human-level sovereignty.

As sane and rational actors, we need to engage our idealism to deal with the realistic threat of nuclear weapons. We need realism to be tempered by idealism. We need to become real-dealists. Only if we implement our idealistic goals of a governed, and nuclear-free, world, will we be able to realistically survive as a species. It's in our best interest to move beyond our self-interest. We must transcend the paradigm of nationalism to create a world that works for everyone. World citizenship can lead us to achieve an honest, holistic, and worldly consciousness.

One immediate step that each of us as world citizens can take is to sign the petition supporting the ratification of the "Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons." To sign the petition online, click here and to sign a handwritten petition, click here.

I have already signed the petition. Will you?


The threat or use of nuclear weapons violates the principles of international humanitarian law.

War crime:

The Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Principles, and the Statute of the International Criminal Court maintain the premise that war is supposed to be limited, affect civilians minimally, and be winnable in a short time frame. Fallout from a nuclear war cannot be limited. Many people, not just military combatants, will die. No one can win a nuclear war.

Crime against the peace:

The threat of using nuclear weapons not only destabilizes the regions where the threat is focused, but also the progression of humanity towards the global rule of law and the consequent peaceful world. Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) confirms that any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law; yet heads of state dangle the nuclear option like a plaything.

Crime against humanity:

Even a limited nuclear incident could cause immediate, dramatic devastation and long-term habitability concerns for the entire earth. Nuclear war would be genocide of humanity.

According to customary international law and international treaty law, national governments must not commit acts that violate human rights.

Article 30 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states, "Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein."

Article 5 (1) of the ICCPR states, "Nothing in the present Covenant may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms recognized herein or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the present Covenant."

Continued development of nuclear weapons violates our human rights, in particular our right to live and our right to a world order that allows for the full and free exercise of all our innate and unalienable rights.

Right to live:

Article 3 of the UDHR states, "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."

Article 6 of the ICCPR states, "Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life."

World order:

Article 28 of the UDHR states, "Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized."

The preamble of the ICCPR states, "The States Parties to the present Covenant, Considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world; Recognizing that these rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person; Recognizing that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights; Considering the obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms" agree to uphold human rights.

Should Human Rights Be Decentralized?

By Noemie Broussoux-Coutard*, Guest Blogger

Activists assert the universality of human rights to demand that governments respect everyone's rights and duties universally. Embodied by treaties, covenants and declarations, human rights enforcement appears to provide an antidote to ongoing violence and inequality in the world. Has the demand for respect of universal human rights principles led to greater respect of our rights?

In her book, Human Rights and Gender Violence: Translating International Law Into Local Justice, Sally Engle Merry, Professor of Anthropology, Law and Society, analyzes the current flaws in international human rights law creation and dissemination, and attempts to respond to these flaws by proposing that international law and human rights development should return to local community engagement. Education and promotion of human rights standards, she maintains, should be in accordance with the culture of the local area.

Merry highlights the knowledge gap between the drafters of international law and the communities who are directly impacted by these laws. Localities are often excluded from crucial conversations and preparatory work during the drafting of human rights laws, as well as from what those laws will do and how they will be implemented. Merry posits that the lack of awareness of the law-making process creates an unwillingness to abide by the laws, as well as a perpetuation of human rights violations all over the globe.

Because law drafting tends to be an elitist process, lawmakers sometimes fail to acknowledge the concepts of culture and local identity, and how those concepts relate to human rights. Local culture, to a significant amount of communities, represents the essence of their existence. Merry states that cultural considerations in human rights often are either overlooked by international standards, or used as a shield against laws, but instead should serve as a peaceful tool to benefit all parties. She writes, "Even as anthropologists and others have repudiated the idea of culture as a consensual, interconnected system of beliefs and values, the idea has taken on a new life on the public sphere." Merry proceeds by explaining that culture can be used as a method of educating all parties: the international actors, by teaching them the intricate diversity of each community and how it ultimately relates to human rights, and the localities, by teaching them the essentiality of having human rights laws by giving local examples of human rights violations, stemming injustice in their communities.

Merry argues that the solution lies in the "vernacularization" of human rights, by bridging the gap between participants at the international and the local levels, utilizing resources such as NGOs and other activist groups who can translate and understand both parties in this dilemma. This solution is particularly useful in implementing crucial laws that are generally misunderstood by populations with little to no access to the human rights education. This misunderstanding is due in large part to the law-makers of the privileged world who take part in what Merry calls the "transnational culture of modernity."

This term describes the general grouping of people who, by the simple fact that they all live in modern, organized states with high regards towards individual rights and protection from the state, fail to consider the differences between their world, and communities whose cultures largely differ from these standards. The people in this transnational culture of modernity are often the very people who compose human rights codes and promote human rights on a global scale. Through the assistance of NGOs and activists to bridge the gap of understanding between global standards and local cultures, various disadvantaged communities have come to understand how their governments are mistreating and oppressing them. They have begun to claim their rights utilizing the resources that international human rights treaties provide.

To achieve greater awareness and respect for human rights everywhere, we need to deal with how globalization of human rights has excluded many underprivileged communities from participating in the development of legal standards and legal processes. We need to provide human rights education to local communities, explaining how human rights law and human rights violations directly impact those communities. We also need to educate everyone involved in drafting and implementing international human rights laws that those laws will achieve greater recognition and support when local communities have a voice in the process.


*Noemie Broussoux-Coutard participated in the Summer 2017 Session of the World Law Internship Program in World Service Authority's Legal Department.

Happy New Year 2017!