By David Gallup
More than 65 million people have become refugees (15 million), stateless (10 million), or forcibly displaced (40 Million) due to armed conflict, persecution and natural disasters.
This population figure is larger than that of more than 210 countries and dependent territories. In other words, only 20 countries in the world have a population larger than 65 million people. As the UN High Commissioner for Refugees explains, “one out of every 113 people on the earth” are displaced from their homes and “24 people are forced to flee each minute.” The majority of refugees are fleeing from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Myanmar, Eritrea, and Columbia. These figures do not even account for the day-to-day oppression that millions, if not billions, face but who are unable or reluctant to leave to find a safe haven.
What if all of the displaced people of the world came together, like the Refugee Team who participated in the Olympics, to create their own country?
“Displaced People’s Country” or Displacedland would be an economic powerhouse with a gross domestic product similar to Indonesia, Switzerland or Turkey. Its diversity in cultures, languages, ethnicities, religions, etc. would ensure that acceptance of difference would be the norm.
From the arduous journey that the population faced to achieve their freedom from persecution and from their appreciation of their new-found liberties, the Displacedlanders would use their ingenuity, enthusiasm, and persistence to create a thriving and vibrant society.
Their desire for political, economic, environmental and social justice would be embedded in the legal fabric of the community. Displacedland would engender respect for each other as fellow citizens of struggle, respect for the land that they could call their own, and respect for the rule of law over the rule of the dictator. Initially, pride in their displacement would unite them. Later, recognition of their common humanity, would seal that bond.
Sounds like a great place to live!
But why should these fellow humans have to create their own new country to have their rights and basic needs upheld? Why are millions stuck in refugee camps with inadequate food, housing, healthcare, education and opportunity?
To have the kind of world in which the rights reaffirmed in various declarations and treaties such as the UDHR, the ICCPR and the ICESCR are fully met, we should all be able to claim, and then exercise, our rights no matter where we happen to live on the planet. Human rights and duties are not bound by territory; they are not dependent upon the nation-state in which one happens to be born.
If everyone had citizenship everywhere, statelessness would no longer exist and only natural disasters would forcibly displace people. With world citizenship, if we do not like where we live, if we do not like the politics or the rulers, then we could live somewhere else.
Instead of creating a separate country for all displaced people, world citizenship, as a valid and legal citizenship beyond any other status that someone may carry, would ensure that everyone has at least one citizenship which, in its inclusiveness, upholds our concomitant rights and duties.
Affirming world citizenship as an official, legal and political status is one of the main functions of the World Service Authority. Requiring all governments to respect world citizenship status legally is the next step – a step that will support millions of displaced persons, by ensuring that governments will fulfill their obligations to respect refugees, stateless and displaced persons’ innate and unalienable rights. To promote respect for this highest citizenship status, global institutions of law must be established. WSA’s project to develop a World Court of Human Rights is one such institution.
World citizenship, as the highest level of allegiance, empowers us to focus on equality, justice, unity, friendship, sustainability, and harmony with each other and the earth.
Humans need not search for refuge in Displacedland. The entire earth is a sanctuary of peace – when we respect each other, our rights and duties, as world citizens.