Transformation of the Political Theory: Cosmopolitan Citizenship and Democracy


This paper is concerned with the topic of cosmopolitan citizenship and its relation to democracy. We begin by highlighting the main postulates of Kantian cosmopolitanism, as many theorists Kant contributes an idea of cosmopolitan citizenship linked to the need to establish international political institutions that support citizenship beyond an exclusively moral dimension. We then discuss the issue of the transformation undergone by the nation state in the context of globalization, particularly the loss of sovereignty of the state and the growth of multinational companies, and how these changes have come to set a new scenario for the emergence of international actors and the basis for various citizenship practices in a cosmopolitan dimension. The nature and current reach of cosmopolitan citizenship is explored through two fundamental cases: the European Union, and ecologic citizenship. Finally, we discuss cosmopolitan democracy and which ought to be its characteristics, among which we identify the establishment of supranational political institutions, the consolidation of a global civil society, and the establishment of mechanisms for citizen participation beyond the traditional ones situated in the national sphere.

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Pérez, G. (2019) Transformation of the Political Theory: Cosmopolitan Citizenship and Democracy. Open Journal of Political Science, 9, 314-348. doi: 10.4236/ojps.2019.92018.

1. Introduction

The notion of a world or cosmopolitan citizenship was first set forth by Diogenes and the Stoics in classic Greece, with the assertion that “each one of us resides, in fact, in two communities, the local community of our place of birth and the community of human aspiration”. This cosmopolitan assertion essentially means that the human community is what ought to be supreme and thus promote unbreakable commitment to the universal community of humankind, and a sense of distancing from merely local or national affiliations.

We currently face the resurgence of the idea of a cosmopolitan citizenship, proceeding mainly from the liberalist tradition, especially in light of the development of the global economy and the transformations of the loss of centrality of the national state. In this paper we develop the topic of cosmopolitan citizenship and its relation to democracy. In the first part we highlight the main postulates of Kantian cosmopolitanism, as many theorists Kant contributes an idea of cosmopolitan citizenship linked to the need to establish international political institutions that support citizenship beyond an exclusively moral dimension.

In the second part, we deal with the issue of the transformation undergone by the nation state in the context of globalization, particularly the loss of sovereignty of the state and the growth of multinational companies who have acquired enormous power at a global level. These changes have come to set a new scenario for the emergence of international actors and the basis for various citizen practices in a cosmopolitan dimension. In order to illustrate the nature and current reach of cosmopolitan citizenship, we have developed two fundamental topics to be understood in sections three and four. First, the case of the European Union, currently constitutes the most complete model of a true cosmopolitan citizenship to some theorists―even with its deficiencies and problems―because of the creation of representative institutions and the defense of citizenship rights at a supranational level. Second, ecologic citizenship, is represented mainly by the action of civil society organizations acting globally in favor of the environment, without being restricted exclusively within a particular nation state, and seeking mechanisms for ecological defense that goes beyond individuals, and is concerned with territories and species.

Under the fifth and last heading, we highlight the topic of cosmopolitan democracy and which ought to be its characteristics, among which we identify the establishment of supranational political institutions, the consolidation of a global civil society, and the establishment of mechanisms for citizen participation beyond the traditional ones that are situated in the national sphere.

2. Kant and Cosmopolitanism

In Kant’s writings, it is possible to discern an active model of citizenship within the state that combines republican and liberal elements―although the liberal elements are predominant. Furthermore, there is a moral universalism1 that makes individuals think as world citizens. Even though Kant’s name is often used to symbolise a cosmopolitan model of world politics, in which relationships among individuals (and not states) are central, his theory is located between the political recognition of internationalism among states and the moral commitment to an influential cosmopolitanism.

Thus, Kant sees citizenship mainly in terms of the state. A good state is one governed by laws instead of by men, in which active citizens have the responsibility to elect governments and also the responsibility to engage in public debate about the correct policies to be pursued. Kant does not consider participative democracy as such, from a political point of view, citizenship is mainly national, but it has a certain dimension to influence the state to act in accordance with the universal principles that must govern an international society.

Kant’s main argument for a cosmopolitan politics is fundamentally moral. Even when there are differences between personal and political morality, politics is governed by principles of “law”, which require that states create the conditions for individuals to act freely and autonomously. This means that they should not be subjected to arbitrary violence or coercion. However, peace cannot be guaranteed as long as wars between states go on and a global judicial regime is imposed. Therefore, there is a moral obligation to work in pro of world peace, even when we cannot be sure this goal is achievable.

Kant is relevant in current debates on cosmopolitan citizenship thanks to his vison that historic changes in international society are creating conditions under which topic cosmopolitanism could be gradually realised. International society could be changed, he suggests, because of the experience of ever more devastating wars. At the same time, economic and political tendencies could emerge that establish a more united world. Some of the language used by Kant suggests a “mechanism of nature” promoting the necessary human unity; however, history is not moving toward an “inevitable goal”. He concludes that it is impossible to be certain that the ideal of perpetual peace can be achieved. But objective trends mean that it is our moral duty to work toward achieving the goal of world peace. The way forward is through an expansive confederation of states that assume constitutions based on people’s representation and the rule of law, and this will create a zone of peace that could gradually include more states (Kant, 2002) .

Having analyzed public law and private law within the nation state, Kant developed is approach in the sphere of interstatal and international law, attacking the existing “Westphalian” order in which “every state sees its own majesty… precisely in the fact that they do not have to obey any external legal constrain”. Kant criticized this model as one in which there is no notion of an international law of where the law was interpreted merely as a right to go to war, which was, in fact, no law at all. He was very critical of the legal architects of this model: traditional theorists of the natural law such as Francisco Suarez 1548-1617, Hugo Grocio 1583-1645, Samuel Pufendorf 1632-94 and Emmerich von Vattel 1714-67. Kant argued that they painted a thin gloss over a system in which the sovereigns guarantee themselves the licence to use any mean for war that was considered necessary, to exploit the recently discovered colonies as if they were “no man’s lands”, and to treat foreigners as enemies without rights. Kant maintained that this was not a genuine legal order but a Hobbesian state of nature torn by perpetual war (Fine, 2007: pp. 22-28) .

With the aim of confronting violence and the lack of law that characterized existing relationships between states, Kant rebuilt the cosmopolitan ideal already established as a moral norm within the framework of enlightened thinking. He turned to a new form of social contract at an interstatal level that placed a political demand on sovereign to resign their “savage and lawless freedom” and subject themselves to coercive public laws. He built cosmopolitanism as an international political order designed to establish “legalized foreign relations between states”, and a “universal civil society”. These terms referred to the establishment or consolidation of international laws to guarantee the sovereignty of nation states, prohibit interference in internal affairs of other states, and create pacific relations among them. Kant argued for the establishment of an “external legal authority” that was capable of forcing states to tolerate the rights of other states by virtue of the law and respect since, without any authority, every state could simply interpret the law and enforce international law according to their own moral and political judgments (Kant, 2002; Fine, 2007: pp. 22-28) .

Kant opposed the formation of a “world state”, similar to a Leviathan at an intra-society level, which in his view would be the falsehood of a lone great power that could turn into “universal despotism” and a “liberty graveyard”. The institutional vision he embraced was that of a Federation of Nations, based on mutual cooperation and voluntary consent between a plurality of independent states. In a way, it was a vision very close to what the United Nations is today. Kant foresaw a pacific future, in which established armies would be abolished, and no other national debt would be incurred in connection to military costs and no state would intervene by force in another state’s internal affairs. Before the realization of everlasting peace, the cosmopolitan order would establish provisional war laws. The traditional right of sovereigns to declare war or establish any kind of military conflict without consulting citizens would be abolished, as the latter would have to consent to any declaration of war.

While Kant recognized that the immediate circumstances were hostile for cosmopolitan ideas, he looked toward long term historic tendencies to defend the realism of this vision. These are concerned, first, with the economic rationality of cosmopolitanism in a commercial era in which pacific interchange is more productive that looting; second, with the political utility of cosmopolitan states, forced to arm themselves against other states and confronted by increasing risks and costs of modern warfare, and third, with the affinity of cosmopolitanism with republicanism given that republican legislators can no longer declare war without consulting their citizens, and that it can be expected that republican citizens have a higher level of education and political maturity than individuals of old monarchic states. Kant discerned an affinity between modernity itself and cosmopolitanism, since the modern world is one where “people of the earth have entered varying degrees within a universal community” and “a violation of rights in a part of the world is perceived anywhere”2.

Kantian cosmopolitanism was a profound attempt to treat the contradiction between the universalism of the “rights of man”3 and the national basis upon which those rights were agreed. He saw the generalization of republican forms of government throughout all political communities, in such a way that the universality of the rights of man was able to come true; in the form of the development of international law and the establishment of a Federation of Nations to ensure that wars between states, perceived as the greatest threat to the rights of man, could be regulated and eventually overcome; and cosmopolitan rights in the strict sense of the term would provide a universalist minimum for “strangers” and would fill the abyss in the system or rights that national law left open.

Many of contemporary exponents of cosmopolitanism and global governance combine a moral plea with an affirmation of new political possibilities. Nussbaum (1999: pp. 13-29) develops the moral dimension of Kant’s cosmopolitanism in her defense of world citizenship. She is particularly interested in the implications on personal conduct, highlighting Kant’s commitment to observe the courtesies of hospitality towards a guest when he is close to his own death. Nussbaum has a particular interest in the possibility of combining the politics of nationalism with a cosmopolitan education foreseeing a moral framework for the early education of citizens on topics such as ecology, understanding other countries’ cultures, and especially respect to the rights of others. This emphasis on education to achieve cosmopolitanism has, or course, important political implications. The position she recommends is that “we should pledge our main loyalty not to a mere form of government, not any temporal power, but to the moral community of all human beings built by humanity”.

In relation to what’s stated above, Andrew Linklater (1996: pp. 77-103) , who also develop some aspects of Kant’s thought, points out that a model of global citizenship is a recognition of a universal moral dimension. He suggests that a vision of cosmopolitan citizenship today must establish ethical obligations to humanity as a whole, so that they can transcend the realm of the fellow citizens. “This is the essence of the Kantian notion of world citizenship”. Kant does not only rest on moral imperatives and recognizes the need for political action by the states in order to strengthen the international society. Therefore, Linklater (1996: pp. 77-103) suggests that Kant provides a bridge toward an idea of cosmopolitan citizenship, in which the adaptation to a purely moral dimension is rejected, and the need for a political network, based on specific institutions in which citizenship get its substance is established. One disadvantage of the moral perspective is that it entails compassion and duties in a very wide spectrum (if not precise) for individuals who see themselves as global citizens, without any corresponding right. However, citizenship usually suggests a set of specific rights. Moreover, citizenship requires at least certain limited duties. Therefore, those who think that it is “morally desirable and politically possible to separate citizenship form state” see new political transnational agreements.

Immanuel Kant is one of the classical theorists who have reflected on cosmopolitanism. In present time, Kantian theory has been interpreted and taken up in three different levels: his moral theory implying cosmopolitism; his visions on the relationship between historical developments that promote globalization related aspects and political action; and finally his ideas on international institutions. The American philosopher Martha Nussbaum, has become one of the most eloquent promoters of cosmopolitan citizenship, focusing mainly on the moral cosmopolitanism of Kant, which she relates to Stoic philosophy, she has been instrumental in promoting measures of economic growth that reflect the social welfare of a society, in the current times of economic globalization.

Due to the globalization process, mainly because of the increase in the real power of multinational companies, and of the regional integration of nation States in different political, economic and cultural spheres, the “Westphalian” system seems to be undergoing a fundamental transformation. Instead of independent sovereign states, the world is moving towards “transnational structures of political authority”. In the future, the functions of the State could be performed at different levels; these facts establish a new framework for action for establishing the viability of a certain cosmopolitan citizenship.

3. State and Globalization

The democratic political theory of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries rarely questioned the sovereignty of the state. The assumption was that the representative liberal state controlled its own destiny, subject only to the commitments it made and the limits imposed by the groups and forces operating within its territorial borders and by the agencies and representatives of other nation-states. The world beyond the nation-state―the dynamics of the world economy, the intensification of transnational links and international institutions, for example―was hardly theorized. Theorists such as Grotius and Kant attempted to understand the State in the context of the “society of States”, exploring the conditions and requirements of coexistence and cooperation among States, with particular attention to the nature and scope of relations governed by the law.

We can understand modern nation-states as complex, ambiguous and not clearly determined historical constructions that have been constituted as a structure that condenses and evidences political power, which also claims the “legitimate monopoly of violence” (M. Weber), with a series of institutions and organizations that are deployed in a clearly defined territory and that demand the construction of a nationality and a particular nationalism, where sovereignty, shared in a “world system of national states”, materializes. It is also formed by a “legal and political order” and “condenser of social and political relations” in the establishment of the “space where the conflict takes place” in the struggle for political power.

Modern states were shaped into a political “unity of meaning” with representative faculties, separated from the realm of civil society, constituting a “people-system” that manages to articulate the concept of nation in several planes. However, the model of nation-state that had been clearly established until the end of the Second World War has now been disrupted by the process of economic globalization that has been developing particularly since the 1970s and has progressively gained more strength.

Local-global dynamics, the process of re-composition of territorial spaces, the diversification of the referents for the construction of identities, the intensification of progressive transfers of power-authority, the transformation of domestic-international behavior patterns, are conformed by guidelines generated by the global market and the strategies of multinational corporations. The current globalization shows distinctive and unprecedented features compared to its preceding versions. Because of its particular characteristics it constituted into what has been designated as “dense globalization”4.

Globalization has a direct impact on the limits and functions of the political power of national States. This translates into a greater economic openness that generates substantial changes in the way in which the links are established, the commercial strategies and a significant transformation of the economic and social spaces. And also by the breakdown and elimination of institutional frameworks that could put obstacles to the functioning of capitalism, from social and civil channels. This phenomenon is known as the “process of deregulation” of capital on a planetary scale and directly affects the degree of sovereignty and autonomy of national states themselves.

Globalization generates structural changes in our fundamental institutions of modernity; from industrial and labor organizations, types of governments, sovereignty, international relations and ways of dealing with conflicts, to the intimate structures and strategies of the construction of personality and individual and social identity. Globalization is an intense transformative force that drives fundamental and structural changes in the social, economic, political, cultural, ecological and military spheres. It is an unprecedented historical process that is fundamentally disrupting domestic and foreign relations of current political societies. Therefore, there is talk of increasing expansion of the political, social and economic space that determines the future of communities. However, it constitutes a dynamic and open historical process, full of contradictions and paradoxes.

We are faced with a process of deterritorialization of economic activity that is generating the restructuring of national economies beyond their national territorial restrictions, along with diversified reterritorialization processes. While national states retain much of their legal and political attributes within their territory, they have to give up and negotiate part of their powers with transnational and subnational entities and institutions that pressure them from multiple sides. In this sense, we are facing a transformation in the relationships between sovereignty, territoriality and real power of the national state, which has repercussions on what is known as a “new regime of sovereignty”.

The intensified global process moves us not only from the traditional map of world geopolitics, but it also breaks with the centrality that the state has occupied, as the actions of power are distributed by movable actors and they are shifted across the local, national, regional, macro-regional and global levels. In no way does this mean the “end of the national state”, what it shows is significant adjustments and an active reworking according to the requirements. There are two characteristics that I deem as fundamental to understanding the process of globalization and its effects in the field of politics and the resurgence of the importance of the regions:

1) Economic globalization, especially in the field of finance and the way in which transnational production and exchanges take place, is generating substantial changes that directly affect the unequal treatment of goods, capital and people. There is an openness, intensification and flexibilization that allow us to establish a process of “globalization of the economic system” through the liberalization and integration of markets in the form of “global production networks” (Held, 2005: p. 47) . Thus, its components are undoubtedly the market and strategic forms of association, which allow us to think of an economic logic of instrumental functionality. It is a system with structures, agents, regularities and relations of power that emerged properly in the early seventies; that is, when the necessary conditions for new international finances to be established presented themselves, and the increase of foreign direct investment, the strengthening of transnational business groups and the establishment of economic regions with intensified global resonance were possible5.

2) But this disruption of the recomposition of spaces or of the “territorial principle” (Badie, 1997) generates a rearrangement of the various social conglomerates, a phenomenon that is economic, political, demographic and cultural at the same time. If we understand the current economy as the framework of a complex network in which high-density refluxes, heterogeneous in their behavior, circulate generating processes of supraterritoriality, creating a significant displacement with respect to the social and political coordinates that are referenced from spatial and territorial ties. Faced with the increase in intensity and the distorted spatial referents, the heterogeneous accelerated global economy leaves little room for traditional political mechanisms to operate. Global capitalist economy constitutes fluctuating regimes of exchange rates, production and consumption, breaking with the rigid referent of spatial territoriality, as the “hypermarket” comes together in the form of global networks and regions of production. It is not that the new economy does not require the spatial referents, but rather that it breaks with them, rebuilds them and refunctionalizes them; thus, we can observe how the flows of the heterogeneous economic network creatively use and cross local, national and regional spaces, reproducing intensely (Held & McGrew, 2003) .

What has been called the “crisis of the territorial principle”, understood as the questioning of the process of modern political order, which goes from the end of feudal society to the Treaty of Versailles, right through the Westphalian peace agreements, has to be interpreted―as Bertrand Badie (1997) and Pierre George (1995) point out―not as the abolition of spaces but as their proliferation and flexibilization as a product of the globalization process. Significantly affecting the order upon which the international balance and legitimate political authority rest.

The current global environment generates the concurrence of several spatial logics that cross the territorial references of the current national states in process of transformation in various ways. This “mutation” of global geopolitics and of the basic territorial referents is a product of the intensification of the process of economic globalization and the proliferation of multiculturalism, but also of the mobilization of individuals resulting from the great migrations, the revolution in telecommunications and global transport, and the multiplication of particularisms and of ethnic and cultural expressions of various dimensions. Territoriality ceases to be the exclusive support of legitimate political power and constitutes itself as only one more referent.

The transformation of territorial spaces generated by economic globalization has a direct impact on the social configuration of the different political communities and their right to self-determination. And together with these changes, we can see how, since the 1970s, social and political phenomena such as “ethnic rebirth” (which would include demands, before a process of intensification and collision, from immigrant groups, indigenous vindication groups and national minorities (Kymlicka, 1996: pp. 26-30) , the revival of the so-called “new social movements”, transnational defense networks and the emergence of citizenship in transnational networks, have reappeared and have been gaining strength and impact.

On the other hand, and as part of the same phenomenon of re-emergence of the regions vis-a-vis the nation-state, as Keating points out (1997: pp. 383-398) , we are in the presence a new regionalism. This is a new wave of regionalism that has come to the fore in the late 1980s, not only within states but, for example, in the context of the European Union (EU) and the global market. Most European states have decentralized their institutions in order to modernize and rationalize administration, in the case of European integration, regional development funds, which have increased significantly, have placed the regions in a more direct relationship with the EU, weakening the mediation of central authorities; even though these remain the main actors, such changes have opened a new margin of construction and action for citizenship that is no longer limited to the pure statal sphere.

This process significantly affects the functioning of the national state and the traditional political decision-making procedures, but also the very nature of modern politics and modern political communities. Thus, the concept of “global politics” refers to the extension of politics in a time and space beyond the territorial national state6. It is a broad exercise in diversified politics that decisively breaks with its geographical-spatial constraints and disrupts traditional forms as power and authority are being deployed.

Certainly, the idea of global politics renders the traditional distinctions between domestic and foreign policy, between territorial politics and non-territorial politics, national politics and international politics, and so on, dysfunctional. Governments and nation-states continue to play key roles in global geopolitics; they become powerful actors who have to share and negotiate with a number of international and intra-national actors, agencies and organizations in a new complex political environment (Beck, 1999) .

We can say that the actions and decisions of national States are driven both from a supranational or transnational level, as well as from the regional, intra-national and local levels, in their multiple reflections and ramifications with global repercussions. The very solutions to their apparently domestic problems have to consider and integrate the different levels of incidence of the exercise of global policy. The power that has been exercised from the various spheres of the global is a necessary reference to understand the “changing constellation of political life” (Held et al., 2002: p. 25) .

This character of internationalization of politics and social relations has been presenting itself mainly due to the growing internationalization of power, since there has been a marked extension in the networks’ infrastructures and institutions, the establishment of rules and global political activity. We would thus be moving from a political regime centered on territorial inter-state or geopolitical relations to “transterritorial political regimes of global power” that break with the traditional referents and coordinates of politics.

Global politics has established the foundations of a local, national, regional and global order, but it is necessary to keep in mind that this is an open and contingent historical process. What is important is that it places national states within dense spatial networks with various dimensions that modify their functions in a complex constellation of global power; this is expressed in a plurality of overlapping and contradictory political processes that involve multiple actors and levels of functioning.

We could say that these political flows articulated in the form of complex networks of incidence contribute two fundamental elements, intimately interrelated, but that undoubtedly influence the re-configuration of a democratic political culture: 1) they generate “radical democracy”, by reintroducing issues of fundamental importance in public policies in national and international political agendas, that are extremely relevant in the solution of fundamental social problems, and that would otherwise be conspicuous by their absence in the face of the gradual withdrawal of the national State’s social commitment, and 2) with their own activity, they foster the urgent need to constitute a “global civil society” and a “cosmopolitan citizenship”7.

4. European Citizenship

The clearest model we currently have of a Cosmopolitan Citizenship is undoubtedly “European Citizenship”. However, although this model represents important advances in the field of supranational political representation and liberal rights, it cannot yet be described as a complete citizenship, in the sense of T.H. Marshall (1964) . European citizenship faces the great challenge of securing social rights in the process of economic globalization, the development of neoliberalism and the transformation of national states.

The Member States of the European Union (EU) are no longer the only centers of power within their own borders. By creating a Community of unlimited duration, with its own institutions, its own personality and, above all, with real powers due to a limitation of sovereignty or a transfer of the powers of states to the Community, Member States have seen their Sovereign rights restricted. On the other hand, it is important to bear in mind that the Union’s powers were constituted by the “voluntary cession” of the individual states of certain portions of their sovereignty, a cession that in fact contributed to the survival of the European nation state facing the hegemony of the United States in the decades after World War II and the emergence of new economic powers in Asia, particularly China and Japan. Within the Union, sovereignty is now clearly divided: the conceptions that postulate sovereignty as a form of indivisible, unlimited, exclusive and perpetual public power materialized within a national state have become extinct8.

The Maastricht Treaty (1991) marked a new evolutionary line in the EU, introducing a novel concept: “European Citizenship”, which was later supplemented by the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) and incorporated into the failed European Constitution (2004) as part of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This initiative sought to bring the EU closer to the citizens and not only to the economic subjects―workers, service providers or companies―who until then were guided by the Community provisions.

The process of creation of European Citizenship was slow, different voices had been heard in its support since the idea of a united Europe appeared, speaking of the Europe of the citizens, already in the eighties of the last century, although only to refer to the Human element of the Communities, without any legal basis. The decisive momentum for the legal development that culminated in Maastricht was carried out by Felipe González through a letter addressed to the Council Presidency later developed by the Spanish delegation, an initiative that, after discussions and cuts, would be reflected in the Treaty of the Union9.

In order to be a citizen of the Union one must be a citizen of a Member State, that is to say, the European Citizenship derives from the previous condition to bear the citizenship of any of the Member States, either in an original or derived way. From the outset, the subsidiarity of the European Citizenship became clear, and any doubts that might have remained were cleared by the Treaty of Amsterdam: “Citizenship of the Union will be complementary and not substitute for national citizenship”. Community citizenship beyond the nationality of any of the Member States cannot be obtained; residence on the territory of the Community alone does not, and cannot, lead to the granting of Community citizenship.

The first right recognized for European Citizenship is the right of active and passive suffrage in the elections to the European Parliament. The Maastricht Treaty allows any EU citizen to exercise their right to vote in the country of his nationality or in the country of residence. The road opened by Maastricht means strengthening the direct relationship between the citizen and the European Union. The second right of the European Citizenship is the right of active and passive suffrage in the municipal elections. The possibility of double voting (active and passive suffrage) is raised here, as in relation to the possibility of voting in the European Parliament elections (Perales, 2000: pp. 315-319) .

The third right of European Citizenship is the Right to a Good Administration. This article responds to the need for transparency and correctness in community management. The aim is to establish the links that favor the relationship of European Citizens with the institutions of the Union. The fourth right is the Access to documents. The Treaty of Amsterdam introduces: the right of access to documents of the European institutions: Parliament, Council, Commission, Court of Justice, Court of Auditors, Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions, being able to establish limits “for reasons of public or private interest”.

The fifth right of European Citizenship corresponds to that of the European Ombudsman. Another of the new developments in Maastricht is the figure of the Ombudsman, this institution will be responsible for ensuring that there is no administrative deficiencies within the European institutions and can receive complaints equally from any resident in the Union. The sixth right of the European Citizenship corresponds to the Right of Petition. The right of petition may be exercised before the European Parliament on any matter relating to Community powers. It assumes the right to file a petition with the competent body and to obtain a response, but does not necessarily solve the problem (Perales, 2000: pp. 326-328) .

The seventh right is that of Freedom of Movement and Residence. These rights were already covered by the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, the difference being that in that Treaty these freedoms were only guaranteed to workers or to persons who rendered some service. The Treaty of Maastricht goes a step further and extends to all European Citizens. The last and eighth right of the European Citizenship is that of Diplomatic and Consular Protection. This Article provides for the possibility of obtaining diplomatic and consular assistance in third States by any citizen of a Member State, provided that the State itself does not have diplomatic or consular representation in the State concerned (Perales, 2000: pp. 311-315) .

As can be seen in this list of European Citizenship rights, they basically correspond to a set of political rights and freedoms, in which there is no social commitment for the Member States in the face of the current challenges of the process of economic globalization. A distinctive feature is that with state citizenship national sovereignty is involved, whereas with European citizenship there can be no question of participation in “communitarian sovereignty” and not only because it is doubtful that it can be spoken of, since sovereignty remains an attribute of the Member States, but because the European Parliament cannot be equated with the parliaments of the Member States and their role in the life of the State. On the other hand, there is little identification between Parliament and European citizens. The European Citizenship does not provide any title to act on the inequalities that are lived in the Union, although the opinion is increasingly made that the rights of citizenship of the EU should not be limited to those explicitly mentioned as such. Some issues, such as receiving social benefits, have been interpreted as the need to have social rights as part of European Citizenship (Meehan, 1993: pp. 36-50; Pérez, 2006: pp. 248-260) .

For Étienne Balibar (2003: pp. 244-245) , what concerns the statute of European Citizenship, remains a principle of exclusion. In the EU, the idea of supranational citizenship primarily has no other content than the displacement, at a higher echelon, of the very characteristics of national citizenship. The need to formulate a rule of exclusion based on law and principles cannot be a pure and simple renewal of the different existing exclusions (in a sense, “European citizens” would be all those who were not excluded from their respective national citizenship). What is implicitly being asked for, about a whole series of contemporary experiences and moral principles, and under the pressure of exacerbated, real or imagined interests, is a rule of exclusion belonging in its own right to the new citizenship of the post-national era. This difficulty is particularly acute in relation to the citizenship of immigrants (including in this category all non-EU workers and their families who have settled there for one or more generations, and at least part of the asylum seekers).

If a new citizenship is created on the soil of the European continent and fails to conceive or institutionalize itself or, above all, to present itself collectively as open in its principles, it should for this very reason decide not to be extended to certain individuals present on this soil and, in this sense, separate them from the others according to a generic criterion applicable in all countries, thus forging the category of “non-citizens residing in Europe”. This citizenship cannot escape the constitution of Apartheid at the very moment in which it appeals to progress in universalism. The obstacle to the constitution of a “European people” is the fact that European citizenship, within the limits of the current Union, is not conceived of as the recognition of the rights and contributions of all the communities present on European soil, but as an isolation of “indigenous” populations and “allogeneous” populations (Balibar, 2003) .

European Citizenship comes as the mechanism that includes certain populations historically present in the community space rejecting others, most of them with a long history, that also contribute to the development of the new political body’s civil society. Foreigners become second-class citizens whose residence and activities are subject to special surveillance. It is clear that these different mechanisms of exclusion of citizenship, but of inclusion in the economy, particularly to exploit differences in living standards and wages, constitute structural characteristics, managed according to the internal and external situations.

Democratic citizenship depends on certain national characteristics and therefore it is necessary to determine whether the EU populations share the common ideas, values, interests and feelings of social solidarity and unity that are characteristic of the political and cultural coherence of national states, and which are capable of being represented in common institutions and reflected in a common sphere. The obstacles to a democratic EU are the weak development of collective identity and the low capacity for transnational discourse. Faced with this reality, it requires a collective identity that in no way needs to be rooted in ethnic origin, but may have other bases, for example, the consciousness of belonging that can support majority decisions and solidarity efforts, at the same time as the ability to communicate goals and problems discursively (Schmitter &Trechsel, 2004) .

Habermas (2004: pp. 91-110) , following the example of the European Union, provides a basis for the development of a strong concept of cosmopolitan citizenship. He has made an important theoretical attempt to support universalism in the contemporary context, retaking Kant, while rejecting any kind of metaphysical system. His theory, focused on the conditions for equitable access to participation in reasoned discourse, suggests the need for “dialogical communities” at various political levels. Moreover, Habermas himself is strongly critical of exclusive nationalism, and emphatic with the forms of citizenship that transcend the state.

Habermas’ theory of democracy stems from his theory of rational discourse. The requirements of respect for other individuals and the recognition of their legitimate interests, as well as the commitment to be part of a shared society, are embodied in constitutional rights and duties. The central aspect of the reasoned discourse in framing common policies is incorporated in the concept of deliberative democracy10. When consensus is impossible, deliberative democracy contributes to commitment in interests, based on fair negotiation. It also contributes to deliberation in a large number of areas―within parliamentary bodies as well as in “culturally mobilized publics” based on civil society. The model of deliberative democracy can therefore be applied at various political levels. It may be in one decentered within the state or it may transcend the borders of the state, Habermas predicts that the latter may occur. But before this can be so, a common political culture must emerge from a civil society and from public communication across national boundaries.

Transcending state borders is linked to developing a non-nationalist concept of citizenship within the state. Habermas points out that the concept of nation has both cultural and political roots, but distinguishes between citizenship understood as national identity, a status guaranteed by birth, and citizenship as a voluntary membership of a political community. The tension between an “assigned nation” and a “voluntary nation of citizens” who generate democratic legitimacy can be resolved if the state constitution “prioritizes the cosmopolitan understanding of the nation as a nation of citizens beyond an ethnocentric interpretation”. The growing cultural pluralism of society also suggests the need to replace nationalism with constitutional patriotism. Social cohesion requires not only safe civil and political rights but equity promoted through welfare rights and cultural rights. The possibility of democracy within the state is, however, challenged by global economic trends that undermine state borders and the provision of welfare. Thus,a solution is to create supranational regimes (Habermas, 2002) .

Regarding the above, Habermas (2004) tries to establish to what extent the EU provides a supranational structure. He points to the fact that there is economic integration and a supranational administration, but no political integration beyond the level of the nation state. “The technocratic form taken by the EU reinforces doubts about whether the normative expectations associated with democratic citizenship have in fact always been a mere illusion”. Hopes lie on whether a public sphere in which deliberation develops feasible, and whether it can impose some social and environmental limits to the economy through its influence in the public administration. If decision-making bodies become more open and accountable, and if social movements can secure key issues that are on the public agenda, then “supra-European public spheres can emerge”. The European Union can “create the politically necessary communicative context”. There is still no European people united in solidarity, but just as the nineteenth-century state nations created a political culture, this process can potentially be repeated in Europe.

On the possibility of a cosmopolitan citizenship, considering the EU model, Habermas has some concerns. However, he points out that the global public sphere that Kant identified “will become a political reality today for the first time with the new global communication relations”. Thus, cosmopolitan citizenship is no longer “merely a ghost” and can be seen as part of a new phase linked to state citizenship. Deliberative democracy is necessary for this, as it is designed to operate in contexts where there is cultural diversity and seems to fit inherently in forums where people from different cultures of the world deliberate. Shared political understanding can be developed through deliberation. Agreements and actions can be reached on common concerns, such as global warming. Even if people initially approach global problems from different perspectives, the need to address them can create a shared basis of information and agreement on political strategies in which the actions of social movements can be linked11.

Progress towards a model of cosmopolitan citizenship in the EU was hampered by the rejection of the European Constitution by France and the Netherlands in May and June 200512. This constitution established a Charter of Fundamental Rights which expressed a community of values; it was a set of rights at the supranational level, hence its novelty, particularly in that it included a whole catalogue of social rights that, for the first time, were part of the liberal rights already recognized, a fundamental part of European citizenship. Notwithstanding the fact that the Charter of Fundamental Rights recognized a set of classical social rights where virtually no novelty was found, and that these rights were within the competence of each of the national States (i.e. they did not have a clearly supranational character and therefore did not constitute a new tool to face the social challenges facing the EU), they were still relevant in as much as for the first time in history they would have been part of the structure of international treaties that regulate the institutions of the Union and of the proposal of a certain political constitution that was not exclusive of a nation state but of all the Member States (Pérez, 2006: pp. 248-260) .

European citizenship as such still has many obstacles to overcome. It is still highly dependent on the nationalisms of each state for its possible articulation and, most importantly, this Citizenship has been constituted upon a utilitarian basis that depends on economic conditions and the forces of the market. In the case of the European citizenship, as articulated in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, there is an absence and lack of definition of social rights, which are very necessary to speak of complete citizenship. European citizenship does not provide the essentialist substratum upon which national democracies have been built. Without convincing citizens that Europe guarantees them freedoms, rights and better opportunities, without developing a supranational social movement, strongly anchored in each nation, committed to the construction of the social Europe and the citizens, it will be difficult to overcome the paralysis motivated by the rejection of the European Constitution of 200513.

European citizenship cannot consist solely of the passive enjoyment of formal rights, old or new, conferred on individuals by the fact that the “historical community” to which they belong (by birth or adoption right) is formally integrated in the new European community. European Citizenship is only “possible” as a progression of democratic rights or powers fundamentally within the European framework, once the collective participation of citizens is given in such a way that thanks to this participation could be thought of an active and better articulated European citizenship.

5. Ecological Citizenship

The distinctive characteristics of cosmopolitan citizenship are basically that their action is not restricted exclusively within a nation state, that it has certain ethical or moral characteristics, and that it seeks mechanisms of participation through global networks, as well as acting on different issues that can affect different groups and individuals, or territories and species. This participation may take place through supranational political institutions (as we have seen in the case of the EU), or through civil society organizations. That is why social movements that fight for the environment make up a type of cosmopolitan citizen concerned about the ecology that contributes to the development of democracy.

Environmentalism has emerged in recent decades as a specific “ethics of care” toward nature. Following the first efforts to preserve and conserve natural habitats, environmentalism has encompassed movements that have included animal rights, preserving biodiversity, pushing for the development and use of renewable energy sources, a responsible use of natural resources, highlighting issues concerningobligations and responsibilities of humans between and towards nature. These movements had an impact on the establishment of rules and regulations within specific states to protect the environment, in addition to a series of international arrangements14. In the same way, environmentalism has brought a new alert or awareness of the dependence of human activities on the environment, causing a great change in the behavioral patterns of millions of people. From investment and consumption in environmental issues such as recycling, reusing materials and reducing the use of polluting artefacts, a form of ecological citizenship can be identified from these social movements (Isin & Wood, 1999: pp. 113-118) .

Regarding conceptual discussions on citizenship, little attention has been paid to the idea of the environment, or ecological citizenship. Ecological citizenship makes an important contribution with its approach of duties and obligations. Mark Smith (1998) raises the idea of what he calls ecological citizenship when he refers to a “new politics of obligation, according to which humans have obligations toward animals, trees, mountains, oceans, and other members of the biological community”.

The relationship between environmental policies and citizenship leads to three different conceptions: First, it represents a discussion on environmental rights as an adherence to the classification of Marshall Rights or a subcategory commonly located in social rights. The second one refers to the global nature of some environmental problems. These phenomena of globalization conceive of citizens as being beyond the state. The third one considers that ecology leads to a debate on both responsibilities and rights. The social objective of this responsibility is linked to social sustainability; and the question posed by environmental politics is what type of responsibility is related to those objectives (Dobson, 2006: pp. 83-90) .

The conception of ecological citizenship reaffirms the importance of responsibilities. The linkage between citizens’ rights and social benefits obligations is based on a contractual point of view of rights and obligations15. Citizenship is understood as a contract between the citizen and the State, in which the citizen claims rights to the State, but at the same time the citizen takes on the duty to contribute to the ends of the State. This contractual view of citizenship is very common but rarely expressed explicitly. However, the source of the obligations of the ecological citizen is not reciprocity or mutual benefit, but a non-reciprocal sense of justice, or compassion. The obligations that the ecological citizen has with future generations and with other species cannot be based on reciprocity (Dobson, 2000) .

The contractual point of view is fundamental in the conception of modern citizenship, and this may be the main obstacle to the recognition and understanding of ecological citizenship in liberal democratic societies. In contrast to this, ecological citizenship is explicitly non-contractual and has nothing to do with links between citizens and the political community. Ecological citizenship has a unilateral character with respect to obligations.

Ecological citizenship has an international character and its intergenerationality can be its operative form in the political entities at a national and international level. The main thing for the ecological citizen must be to act with care and compassion towards strangers, distant in space and time, human and not human. This obligation is based on the pursuit of justice, the common good and therefore a broad vision of the development of democracy.

We usually understand citizenship as linked to “the public sphere”. In the theory of citizenship, the separation between public and private space has remained almost intact; however, for ecological citizenship, this separation of the public and the private cannot be sustained. On the one hand, the home is the site of many activities of ecological citizenship, and on the other, it may even be that the virtues of ecological citizenship are learned there. In general, the ecological citizen operates at different levels of society.

This entails a renegotiation of the meaning of “the political”. Ecological citizenship is in favor of reaffirming and restoring the importance of modern politics and the social life of “civil society”. For ecologism, the personal is political, as many private acts have political consequences. Ecological citizenship is the interruption of the public-private divide. With respect to the activity-passivity dichotomy, activity is associated with the public (good and progressive) sphere, and passivity with the private (conservative) sector. A conservative view of citizenship (as passive and private) contrasts with a more revolutionary idea of active and public citizenship. Activity and passivity are sometimes associated with duty and right, respectively, as well as with public and private categories (Dobson, 2000) .

Ecological citizenship is less demanding with traditional notions such as the relationship between membership/rights and their denial (no membership has no rights), since there is no entry fee. Ecological citizenship has a horizontal, rather than vertical (though reciprocal), relationship between citizens and the state. In this sense, the importance of belonging to the nation-state is minimized. Ecological citizenship is part of a broad recognition that “national” citizenship must be complemented by non-national characteristics. Thus, the territory of citizenship extends under the ecological conception beyond the nation-state to the international and cosmopolitan arena. The obligations of the ecological citizen extend over time, as well as space16.

Ecological citizenship implies “significant changes in human assumptions, behavior and institutional structures” and, given the non-reciprocal, non-territorial character of rights oriented to ecological citizenship, we find that one of the most important changes is the resurgence of the idea of a politics of virtue17. This resurgence is connected to the contemporary “remoralization” of politics, which is a characteristic of ecological politics. Ecological citizenship generally seeks to care for others, therefore, far from being an obstacle to the exercise of freedom, it needs public attention and deliberation as constitutive elements, and this may well be considered as a virtue (Dobson, 2000) .

One of the characteristics of ecological citizenship is the connection of the local and the global. This means that the activities of ecological citizenship can be carried out anywhere. At the same time, the idea of a “citizen of the world or cosmopolitan citizen” seemed to go against political reality, a reality that was founded in the nation state, and in which the sense of duty and obligation seldom spread beyond it. However, environmental movements in recent decades have given rise to a situation in which the idea of a global civil society is no longer absurd. In the same way that a global public sphere has been coming into being as a political reality thanks to the new global communication relations, so can the actions of NGO activists be conceived as producing a new orientation towards political identity and community, which can cumulatively be described as global civil society. As Höffe (2007: p. 269) points out, “the cosmopolitan citizen is as interested in having a broad vision of nature as in the intercultural foundation of this vision”.

For Isin and Wood (1999: pp. 113-118) , a fundamental concern is how to evade idealism and environmental pragmatism. In order to do so, they analyze three aspects of ecological citizenship that particularly highlight these problems: an ethics of concern, intergenerational obligations and problems of international governance.

On the first aspect, we find that the most important area of citizenship that arises from environmentalism is the responsibility towards nature. This notion of responsibility toward nature, however, often leads to forms of essentialism that construct nature as an independent entity with intrinsic value. Nature appears as pristine, pure and divine as humans appear as greedy, dominant and exploitative. From the green fundraising demands of green advertising, the pristine nature of the environment is invoked to establish an aesthetic sensitivity to nature. The problem with this trajectory is that the purity or divinity of nature is a social and cultural product, not an unmediated fact founded on nature.

Essentialist defense of nature often comes up against other social groups and invokes issues of race. When considering the Amazon rainforest, for example, ordinary jungle dwellers cannot be forced to pay for the protectionist policies that emerge from the West, which have irresponsibly used their environmental resources for centuries. Instead, a true global ecological ethics will see the problem in terms of the whole planetary system, both human and natural. From this multi-platform perspective, it becomes compulsory for the richest nations in the world, who have previously obtained the benefits of environmental destruction and economic development, to pay their fair share in preserving the diverse planetary environment. However, this solution is equally problematic and raises political questions because the distribution of economic capital in rich nations is not equal. In other words, if wealthy nations are to pay the bill for ecological justice, the question of which of these nations will pay for it must be established. Ecological justice and social justice are closely linked here. Just how such ecological justice can be possible and how nature can have inalienable rights remains unsolved and, perhaps, are unsolvable dilemmas for environmentalism (Isin & Wood, 1999: pp. 113-118) .

While environmental movements constitute nature as an object of concern, protection and conservation, the consequences or possibilities of such concern are fraught with many difficulties. When environmentalism slips into fundamentalism it results in a form of naturalism. According to this vision, shared by many environmentalists, the fundamental problem with the environment is that modern capitalism has exploited and destroyed it. This thesis of the domination of nature is ramified in many variants and results, establishing a mechanistic view of the distinction between nature and culture, failing in the recognition that the very idea of nature is socially and culturally constructed and that we do not have access to nature without the mediating effects of social and cultural relations.

An alternative trajectory of an ethics of concern for the environment is to regard nature as a social construction and to articulate human responsibilities in the use of the environment. In this vision, ecological citizenship is an ambiguous but valuable ideal in which various demands for competing rights intercept each other. There are no universal or essential bases upon which an ecological citizen can defend nature, only contingent and unstable bases upon which it rests its responsibilities to the environment as well as her other sources of identification and loyalty.

The second controversial aspect of ecological citizenship is the issue of intergenerational responsibility. Although future generations are by definition people who will live after our death, our obligations to them are a matter of justice. It is then our duty to consider them when we distribute access to resources and when we plan our financial policies and our budgets. Our obligations, however, are not infinite or unrestricted. When obligations to the people of the future conflict with a genuine need to improve the well-being of contemporaries, a right balance has to be stroke. The problem with intergenerational justice is that such an intermediate ground is often impossible to find. Once one argues on the basis of immutable rights of future generations, the question of social justice rises. For example, is it socially just to withdraw services from the working classes and annul social rights in the name of future generations? These are very difficult questions that cannot be answered in the abstract if not only under specific and contingent conditions. However, the question of intergenerational justice raises significant issues for ecological citizenship (Isin & Wood, 1999: pp. 113-118) .

The third controversial aspect of ecological citizenship is the emergence of international governance regimes that address endangered plants and animals, migratory species, air pollutants, marine pollution, hazardous waste, ozone depletion and climate change. These regimes, often composed of non-state and non-governmental agencies as well as state actors or organizations, deal with biological systems that rest wholly or broadly outside the jurisdiction of any state but which are of interest to two or more of them as valuable resources. Examples include deep-sea fishing, deep-sea mineral deposits, the ozone layer and climate change. Environmental regimes also deal with shared resources such as renewable resources (wildlife reserves), non-renewable resources (oil deposits that underlie two jurisdictions) or ecosystems that transcend national boundaries (a shared river or lake basins). Finally, these regimes deal with transboundary consequences or environmental impacts such as acid rain or the loss of biological diversity.

While they have been effective in raising environmental issues in the international media and even in resolving certain conflicts, international governance regimes lack accountability in terms of day-to-day operations and negotiations. States’ citizens, although bound and affected by the decisions and negotiations of such regimes, are often not in a position where they can exercise their citizenship and deliberate on these issues. In other words, the spaces in which such regimes are formed also reflect the interjurisdictional and cross-border spaces to which they are addressed. In addition, access to international governance regimes is by and large restricted to professional and managerial groups where other groups find their chances of participation or deliberation limited by cultural, social and symbolic capital shortages. The way these regimes interact with those in whose lives they have the greatest impact and how they take responsibility for them are great unresolved issues of ecological citizenship (Isin & Wood, 1999: pp. 113-118) .

These reflections on global citizenship raise more questions than they solve. “Ecological citizenship” politicizes the concept of the environment in a sense that is more than an ethical concern for it. “Citizenship” refers not only to legal and political rights but also to various practices in which humans act as political and moral agents. Until now, “ecological citizenship” is not fully recognized or understood as a political concept, it has limited value in rebuilding an adequate concept of citizenship in our era. Ecological citizenship should mean that ecological reason is inherently political not in the sense that it can be built into a political program, but in the sense that right bearers and those who reclaim them are individuals and groups not nature or the environment.

Ecological citizenship means that the obligations and responsibilities of political agents are in favor of the socially constructed value of nature as well as in favor of each one of them. Isin and Wood (1999) , referring to Thomashow, point out that “the ecologically conscious citizen takes responsibility for the place where he or she lives, understands the importance of making collective decisions concerning the common, seeks to contribute to the common good, identifies with bioregions and ecosystems rather than with nation states or transnational corporations, considers the broad impact of their own actions, is committed to the mutual and collaborative construction of the community, observes the flow of power in controversial issues, attends to quality of interpersonal relationships in political discourse, and acts in accordance with their convictions”.

Ecological citizenship has the global effect of disrupting established ideas about citizenship. It is more about obligations than rights; these obligations refer mainly to strangers, distant in space and time, and involve virtues of attention and compassion. It is practiced in the private and public spheres. The recognition of citizen activity in the private sphere is perhaps the most distinctive contribution of ecological citizenship. From the point of view of ecological citizenship, the private sphere should not be considered as a barrier to citizenship, but as a place where it can be carried out, where virtues can be learned―a springboard for the international and intergenerational sphere, in a cosmopolitan dimension.

6. Cosmopolitan Democracy

The notion of cosmopolitan democracy was elaborated by David Held (1997) as a compromise between federalism and confederalism. Held points to the continuing relevance of Kantian arguments against the practicality and desirability of “a single unified international state structure”, and also points out that a global federation seems to presuppose a homogenous culture and does not allow for the value of local diversity. However, confederalism, “a union based on a treaty constantly renewed through voluntary agreements”, would not be enough. Cosmopolitan democracy should be based on initial consent, and so people would have to be bound by their laws. Cosmopolitan democracy would establish a world where citizens “would enjoy multiple citizenships” in the national, regional and global contexts that affect them. Cosmopolitan democracy would be the model closest to the Kantian postulates of cosmopolitanism18.

Held et al. (2002) and Held (1997) present a commitment to maintaining and promoting democracy, noting that the nation state is no longer the central space for decisions that affect the people living within it, and therefore citizens can often not establish the responsibility of true decision makers. There is a “rupture” between the formal political authority that states still claim to have and the reality of the global economy, regional and international organizations, international law, environmental problems and global communications. It is, therefore, necessary to reconstruct three of the key conclusions emerging from the Westphalian system: national sovereignty, a national community of citizens, and the definitive role of national territorial boundaries.

For Held, the concept of sovereignty in the nation-state must be replaced by the principle of self-determination of people. This does not mean that the nation state no longer has any power or ceases to have an important political role. However, Held argues that it is necessary to extend democracy to existing international and supranational organizations and to devise new democratic means of dealing with problems that cross borders. Its specific, inherently controversial purposes include the possibility of representative regional assemblies―for Held, the European Union provides an advanced model in this regard―and the introduction of some form of direct popular representation within the United Nations. He also suggests the creation of supervisory boards made up of elected representatives from districts relevant to functional bodies. As a form of direct democracy, Held opens the possibility of referendum mechanisms, for example on environmental issues, which affect people living in two or more states.

Held’s (1997) ideal of citizenship cosmopolitan not only has a complex of rights and obligations at multiple levels, as well as active participation in civil society both locally and globally, but also a “mediation role”. Starting from deliberative democracy, Held suggests that citizens should engage in a “dialogue with the traditions and discourses of others to grow” the scope of mutual understanding”. However, the concept of a cosmopolitan citizenship has some problems or considerations. For example, if the multiplication of authorities in decision-making reduces democratic accountability, and whether it is possible to prevent a given level of government from having a predominant power.

It may be argued that the logic of Held’s proposals―despite his Kantian rejection of a world government―suggests a tendency in favor of eventual federalism. Although he refers to “overlapping” authorities, his emphasis is mainly on different levels of government. Moreover, he has drawn his ideas partly from the example of the European Union with its increasingly stronger supranational elements. Within the European Union, increasing integration creates pressure for a federal Europe. Moreover, Held’s ideal goal is a world in which a growing proportion of state military forces are transferred to transnational bodies, “with the ultimate purpose of demilitarization”. But like the federalists he envisions military and police forces to be at the disposal of a global body. The federal implications of cosmopolitan democracy would only be relevant, if there were significant movements in favor of achieving it.

April Carter (2001: pp. 192-195) points out that Held is correct in identifying the need to confront problems that transcend borders, but that in his arguments he does not seem to pay enough attention to the discursive contexts existing in international politics, as to negotiations on the ozone layer, biopiracy or sustainable development and does not sufficiently take into account the communicative power of global civil society and its ability to influence the terms of the discourse. There is skepticism, to some extent, that both the regional and global democratic institutions proposed by Held represent concrete advantages for cosmopolitan democracy, and whether it would be better for cross-border problems to be addressed by States directly involved through different mechanisms. For example, reciprocal parliamentary representation, in which members of a parliament participating in the legislature of an adjacent country could have a vote on environmental issues and other cross-border issues. Other possibilities include an extension of Held’s own suggestion of cross-border referendums and transnational deliberative forums to recommend political solutions.

Following these arguments, there is skepticism or doubt regarding the extent to which Held’s thesis that globalization is undermining the sense of a “shared community of destiny” within the state is actually materializing, because there is still a strong sense of national identity and community within the state. There is also doubt as to the extent to which global institutions can be directly the responsibility of individuals, as there are institutions such as the European Parliament where European citizens are clearly apathetic. Carter (2001: pp. 194-195) , referring to Kymlicka, suggests that international bodies should be the responsibility of state governments, and that the role of citizens is to discuss at a national level how they want their governments to act internationally. Therefore, “we must be quite modest in our expectations about transnational citizenship, at least for the foreseeable future”.

A problem with the possibility of democracy in international organizations is the difficulty of maintaining effective democracy, in terms of the knowledge and interests of citizens in certain issues and in their political participation, within a nation state. The possibility for citizens to support their governments in taking responsibility for their actions in international organizations is low. And if the purpose is to give individuals some direct influence on a global body, then the problems are even greater. If a global democratic body were erected, “the opportunities available to the ordinary citizen to participate effectively in the decisions of a world government would diminish to the point of fading”. Moreover, a growing number of people represented by an organization mean increased diversity and conflict of interest, and make the concept of a common good even more difficult than nationality. The tenor of these arguments suggests almost total pessimism about the possibility of cosmopolitan citizenship being exercised at a national level or at a transnational level (Carter, 2001: pp. 194-195) .

It is important to take up these criticisms regarding the possibilities of cosmopolitan citizenship and its relation to democracy, but the importance of transnational movements and lobbies and the scope of influence provided by global civil society must not be overlooked. Neither should the possibility for the debate on specific issues affecting people across borders, or the dynamics by which the transfer of powers at a supranational level can also stimulate regional political activity. A key objective of cosmopolitan citizenship is the possibility of imposing democratic controls on international bureaucracies and evaluating the difficulties of transferring representative democracy to a global level.

Held’s reasons for establishing a form of democracy beyond the territorial state rest on the growing power and reach of multinational corporations and the impact of global financial markets. Its purpose is to restrict economic neoliberalism. The strategy suggested by Held has two main objectives: to strengthen global legal and political controls and to promote democratic processes within companies. In the same sense, Richard Falk (1999: pp. 67-75) points out that for cosmopolitanism to be credible for citizens it must be combined with a critique of ethically deficient globalization embodied in neoliberal thinking, which is being implemented in such a way that it minimizes the ethical and visionary content of the conception of the world as a whole.

The structures that regulate regional and global governance are rooted in different scenarios, including the European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the economic confederations of the Group of Seven, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The logic of such organizations is basically governed by economic and market criteria, and prioritizes contributions to trade and investment, as well as efficiency in production and distribution, and mechanisms that reduce the relevance of sovereign states, especially regarding their protectionist activities, as well of those of social and local nature, which help those most vulnerable and disadvantaged in the process of economic globalization (Falk, 1999: pp. 70-75) .

At the global level, Slaughter (2007) advocates the development of a “cosmopolitan democratic public law”19 to establish the structure within which economic bodies must operate. This structure should prevent multinational corporations from meddling in politics, for example by influencing elections through funding, and should ensure that the health and well-being of the workforce are respected. These rules must be part of a new trading system, and companies―or countries―that disregard them must be excluded as a sanction.

The strategy of democratizing the economic sphere from within―backed by a cosmopolitan law that upholds the rights of workers―suggests introducing mechanisms to give a voice to workers, consumers, local communities and capital investors in existing corporations, and propulsive cooperatives and community-based financial institutions. As a strategy, one can think of establishing transnational controls, democratic processes within companies and national measures. The idea is to establish a democracy of direct participants in the companies, representing, for example, workers, consumers and local communities. But there are considerable difficulties, in the case of multinationals, in identifying direct participants and in developing effective modes of cooperation among them, given their geographically dispersed nature. Cooperation between a number of states to strengthen control at the national level, to the national monitoring of multinationals, and to agree on measures of coincidence, seems more promising (Carter, 2001: pp. 195-198) .

The critique of utopian thinking involved in applying cosmopolitan democracy to the economic sphere reflects the inherent difficulties of overthrowing the entrenched power of global corporations. Similar considerations arise in connection with the proposals to strengthen international law20 and end the danger of a military conflict between states. Maintaining rights often depends on others accepting certain duties, and a concept of cosmopolitan citizenship supported by international law requires a minimal set of duties. Such duties are still far from being imposed under international law. However, cooperation between state legislatures and police forces could deal with some serious human rights abuses, such as forced prostitution of women and children. Moreover, the recent creation of international courts to try individuals as guilty of crimes against humanity or genocide and the use of national courts to prosecute individuals guilty of such crimes indicates an embryonic structure of a cosmopolitan law that could, in the future, take individuals into consideration.

The development of an international law that only focuses on individual rights and obligations represents a passive model of cosmopolitan citizenship. Thus, a stronger network of agreements between states and a greater vision become necessary for achieving active cosmopolitan citizenship in an encompassing global civil society. The growing importance of civil society indicates a movement towards a more cosmopolitan order. Civil society groups operate on a number of levels. As Falk (1999: pp. 72-73) points out, “today, transnational and grassroots actors and processes, including voluntary organizations of citizens, engage in diverse forms of action ranging from extremely local activities to global ones, and are often inspired by an ethical conscience that makes the cosmopolitan perspective tangible”. Therefore, the possibility of active global citizenship is linked to the development of a global civil society21.

An active citizenship could become a transnational form of governance by breaking with the cultural hegemony of the state. A cosmopolitan political community would be based on the overlapping of multiple citizenships connecting the population in forms of local, national, regional and global governance22. Cosmopolitan politics, guided by the principle of autonomy, would seek to achieve new levels of interconnectivity to correspond with an increasingly global world. These dimensions go beyond old divisions in the democratic tradition between direct and representative democracy, seeking to maximize the principle of autonomy over a range of different levels. Within this framework, therefore, the argument for cosmopolitan democracy is supported by the principle that problems such as HIV, ecological issues and poverty are increasingly globally shared problems (Stevenson, 2003: pp. 38-41) .

One of the disjunctions of cosmopolitan democracy lies between hypothetical national sovereignty and the reality of the hegemony of military powers. Since the end of the cold war the tense controls involved in opposing blocs have been relaxed, but the United States still plays a dominant role in NATO. A country’s security policy influences the safety of others, and today’s weapons create global insecurity. The development of weapons of mass destruction systems radically increases the prospect of political instability and insecurity at the global level.

In the context of a cosmopolitan democracy, a progressive development of a common security policy under the auspices of the United Nations would be expected, but in a world of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons this cannot be a total solution. However, interdependence, the perception of many common interests, and the institutional dynamics of international organizations help create a context in which large wars are less likely23. Major security problems could be easier to solve if the grip of international society becomes progressively stronger and globalization continues to erode national boundaries. A realistic statement of the main obstacles created by the pursuit of military security certainly casts doubt on the goal of cosmopolitan democracy and associated peace. But this does not prove that these goals are necessarily and permanently impossible.

Decisive moves in favor of cosmopolitanism depend, however, on changes in existing international organizations and on the creation of a transnational structure more suited to the pursuit of goals of peace, human rights, social justice and the preservation of the environment. Cosmopolitan democracy seeks to provide channels for direct democratic influence on decision-making on key global issues across various institutional levels to deal with different issues. To this end, a stronger representation would be foreseeable for civil society groups, reinforcing the potential of cosmopolitan citizenship expressed through voluntary activism.

7. Conclusion

Despite arguments in favor of a cosmopolitan citizenship, it is important to highlight some of the most convincing objections to this ideal. Critics of cosmopolitanism are often republican or communitarian theorists (such as Miller, Sandel, and Walzer), who have attacked liberalism for its individualistic emphases and its tendency to ignore how the social context shapes individual values, and also argue that liberalism has devalued political participation. The republican ideal of active citizenship cannot be realized without a shared culture and defined constitutional boundaries. Moreover, the logic of a participatory democratic ideal requires a limit on the number of people involved, so the cosmopolitan extension of these principles beyond the state makes it impossible. Citizenship establishes a reciprocal relationship within the nation state and requires a degree of mutual sympathy and citizen responsibility incompatible with cosmopolitan citizenship. Also, nationalism, in a cultural sense and not in a narrowly ethnic one, is necessary to create active citizens with a sense of their citizen identity.

Republican theorists who reject the goal of cosmopolitan citizenship do not deny there are claims about human solidarity and obligations towards those who are not compatriots. What they do deny is the possibility that all humanity may constitute a true community, and that the specific and demanding criteria of a republican concept of citizenship can be extended to the category of cosmopolitan citizenship. Communalist Machael Walzer (1997, 1999) emphasizes the value of a concerned and responsible citizenship, and the need to create greater equity among citizens, and how cultural contexts shape individual values ​​and actions. Walzer’s position calls into question the possibility of some forms of universalism, for example that it is possible to deduce general principles of justice applicable to all societies and all spheres of life.

Walzer’s (1999) ideas on cosmopolitan citizenship are clearly stated in his response to Nussbaum’s defense of cosmopolitanism and in his discussion of global civil society. He claims, against Nussbaum, that he is not a citizen of the world because there are no institutions, decision-making procedures or clear sets of rights and obligations to which he can subscribe on a cosmopolitan level. He argues that civil society participation is distinct from citizenship; while individuals can choose whether to become members of civil society through joining existing groups or forming some new ones globally, citizenship is restricted. Citizenship can only be shared as the result of a political decision. Walzer also denies that commitments beyond state borders for those who share a cultural identity or ideological beliefs or simply care about people in distant countries are citizen-type commitments.

Republican or communitarian critiques of cosmopolitan citizenship have two main elements: a rejection of the moral adequacy of a pure cosmopolitanism; and the requirement of strict criteria for the concept of citizenship (These theorists have serious reservations about the possibility or desirability of global institutions in which full cosmopolitan citizenship can be realized). The rejection of cosmopolitan citizenship by communitarians and republicans who focus on the centrality of the nation state depends on their interpretation of the depth and extent of globalization. For them, globalization has not significantly eroded national autonomy and the nature of international politics.

On the other hand, and despite the criticisms, we want to emphasize that cosmopolitan citizenship can also be understood in terms of a minimum number of rights and duties directly supported by an international law, or in the context of belonging to new institutions of global governance. The possibility of direct cosmopolitan citizenship needs to be explored later in the context of theories of international relations. The concept of cosmopolitan citizenship is, therefore, a relevant ideal, and there are conditions in many countries to act as a cosmopolitan citizen through the action of global civil society. Today we experience a favorable environment for this action to have some positive results. Cosmopolitan citizenship as a status under international law now possesses an embryonic state, which is being increased in part by political groups that appeal to international law to protect and defend their rights at a national level.

One of the issues is how democracy can be developed in this transnational arrangement. There is a certain skepticism about making the individual the basic unit of responsibility for cosmopolitan democracy, and therefore, about a strong political concept of cosmopolitan citizenship. We start from the idea that the process of globalization is generating greater interdependence and integration of different actors and governing bodies, which is eroding national borders, and that a fragile cosmopolitan order, which gives weight to the rights of individuals and which establishes a politically independent role for non-state actors, seems to be emerging.

Emerging cosmopolitan democracy could be affected in a scenario where there is a war or conflict that has a profound impact globally, by extreme environmental degradation or the exponential growth of poverty and inequality. It is also very likely that if the globalizing tendencies continue, they will do so within a structure directed primarily by neoliberal ideology and the power of multinationals. How individuals and governments act will help shape what in fact happens in the future, and there is a political and moral obligation to act (within the boundaries of reasonable prudence) in a way that promotes cosmopolitan goals, which Kant had established more than 200 years ago.

Cosmopolitan citizenship as the right to vote for a world parliamentary assembly still seems extremely remote. Other proposals for democratic forums that transcend national boundaries, such as cross-border deliberations and referendums, could be more likely. The desirability of a directly elected world assembly is also questionable. Transparency and accountability, however, are crucial. One of the problems with international organizations, as both the European Union and the United Nations clearly illustrate, is that they are even more prone to bureaucratic inertia, money waste, and corruption than many national governments are. Then there is a field for independent supervisory bodies of both national governments and international organizations. In states where corruption, abuse of human rights and environmental degradation are rampant, the struggle to create a better national policy can match cosmopolitan goals.

Nation states that enjoy reasonable stability, affluence and commitment to human rights and democratic principles play a crucial role in maintaining and promoting international institutions and their agreements. A change of government, for example the end of a dictatorship, may be less dramatic for the country if its international obligations are taken seriously, this would help the possibility; of establishing a new democratic government where political actors, such as political parties, would have to ensure the fulfillment of international commitments. In general, conservative parties are less eager to subordinate national interests to global ones, or to accept the application of international law in their domestic policy. Therefore, citizens of these states can significantly influence the reach of cosmopolitan goals24.

Commitment to social democracy may not be opposed to a cosmopolitan view of global politics. Those who support social democracy today tend to reject the thesis that the negative effects of globalization are inevitable, and argue in favor of a restoration of social democracy within a strengthened nation-state and a reorganized network of international economic bodies. The alternative is to seek forces of transnational resistance that can address the negative conditioning factors of globalization on the social aspects of democracy, establishing a radical version of a cosmopolitan citizenship through participation in a global civil society.

The model of liberal citizenship that is most strongly critical of the market places greater pressure on citizens’ obligations and on political activism and self-actualization through politics. In its contemporary manifestations it has also been influenced by feminist and ecological ideas and tends in favor of social movements. At present, writings on civil society and associative democracy reflect contemporary concerns and are more open to transnational interpretations.

This model is linked to the tradition of liberal cosmopolitanism. The liberal belief in individual rights and the rejection of cruelty and oppression, both within the state and at a global level, encourages the development of a respect for international human rights law. Liberal commitments to religious tolerance and cultural diversity have in the past favored open immigration policies and generosity towards refugees. These have also propelled the involvement in movements against war and oppression. Taking part in transnational social movements is a central model of cosmopolitan citizenship.

This model of liberal citizenship is strongly opposed to neoliberalism both domestically and globally. Movements worried about world poverty, the environment or human rights which often criticize the activities of powerful multinationals and call for national and international political intervention to curb global economic power and concrete social injustices. The potential of social movements to constrain the operations of the global economy is, however, necessarily limited.

For the establishment of a cosmopolitan democracy, the principles that allow the development of a global civil society able to constrain global institutions more effectively must be established. Many of these are liberal principles, such as the rule of law, respect for rights, accountability and transparency. But they are also social principles that press for the restoration and maintenance of “public goods” in relation to health, work, education, welfare and the environment. In short, the possibility of a cosmopolitan citizenship remains, today, a wager on the future and the process of creating a future global community where citizens’ rights can be maintained at the international level through international policies where nation states cooperate within supranational institutions, in a larger cosmopolitan order, in which individuals relate directly to international law and global political institutions.


1Individuals, as moral beings, have the duty to obey the universal imperatives and to understand the principles that bind them to other people. Kant’s moral theory argues that human beings must always treat others as an end in themselves, not as means to an end. Morality requires individuals to be autonomous: they ought to be their own “legislators”, and they must act upon duty, not under utilitarian calculations of consequences, moral duties are not limited by state borders; individuals have universal obligations (Kant, 2002) .

2In his Perpetual Peace essay (1795), Kant recognises that European states were related one to another more like atomised individuals in a Hobbesian state of nature than according to cosmopolitan ideas that had momentarily illuminated the dawn of the French Revolution. In the consequences of the Revolution it seemed that nationalism and xenophobia were the ascending stars of the new order, but Kant’s determination lays on trying to harmonize the principle upon which the world revolution was turning, the sovereignty of the national state, with something of that enlightened universalism based on rights (Kant, 2002; Fine, 2007: pp. 22-28) .

3The idea of the “rights of man” was the distinctive achievement of the republicanism of century of enlightening. It meant that every man should be conceived of as bearer of rights by the mere fact that he is a man. Contrasted with traditional societies in which the idea of personality, that is, the ability to possess rights, was a privileged status different to that of the majority of the population. Roman law distinguished between those who had the right to bear rights, and those who did not have rights like the slaves and other dependents. The “rights of man” universalised the status of person to the point that every man was consider a bearer of rights by virtue of his humanity, Seventeenth century republicanism then provided the structure within the struggles for the rights of salves, women, workers and colonial subjects (as well as children, the mentally ill and criminals) could be annexed to the original republican conception of man (Fine, 2007: pp.22-28) .

4According to Held et al., (2002) four moments of a cycle have manifested themselves: 1) premodern globalization; 2) globalization at the beginning of modernity (1500-1859, approximately); 3) modern globalization (1850-1945, approximately); and 4) contemporary globalization. By “dense globalization” we can understand the current type of globalization, which characteristic features are high intensity and velocity, with a wide reach that has an impact on the increasing flows of networks (local, national, regional and global) and with a tendencyto impact on all sectors of social life.

5In this sense, growing interconnection and interdependence among the different economies is generated, where national economies are disadvantaged by the large amounts of capital generated by Multinational Corporations. This process depends on the support and strength of each national economy, although the rules and forms of operation are being intensively driven by economically stronger states and large multinationals. However, the functioning of states remains critical to free market mechanisms, establishing themselves as a deep continuity in global environments.

6“Global politics”... [is] the growing extension of political networks, interaction and activity in the political arena. Political decisions and actions in one part of the world can quickly have ramifications on a global scale. Focuses on political action and/or decision-making can be linked through rapid communications in complex networks of political interaction. Accompanying this “stretching” of politics is the intensification or deepening of global processes to such an extent that “remote action” penetrates social conditions and the cognitive worlds of specific places or communities (Held & McGrew, 2003: p. 29) .

7It should be emphasized that it is globalization itself and the deregulation of the economy that enable the emergence of new actors and powers who making use of the amazing advances in communications technology, overflow and flexibilize the hardened state structures and their principles of territoriality, sovereignty, and legitimacy. As for the project of a “post-national or cosmopolitan citizenship”, we cannot forget the difficulties it entails, insofar as it relates to issues such as sovereignty and power, typical of modern democracies; If we consider that this mega-citizen must exist in a post-national political community (say, for example, the European Union), this breaks directly with the traditional conception of politics that considered the national state as the ultimate and irreducible instance of popular sovereignty. How to avoid amplifying the problems of national states, such as the excessive concentration of power, the problem of waves of emigrants, the protection of basic rights, the fight against poverty, racism, corruption or security, to mention but a few of the most important ones (Habermas, 2000; Fistetti, 2004) .

8It is possible to distinguish the European Union as a form of political regionalism within Europe, that is to say, it is a geographical group of contiguous nation states that share several common attributes, that have significant levels of interaction and that enjoy institutionalized cooperation thanks to a formal multilateral structure. The European Union can probably best be described not as an international regime, nor as a federal state, but as a network of states implying a community of sovereignties. The Member States of the European Union are no longer the exclusive centres of power within their own borders (Held et al., 2002: pp. 57-60) .

9The main arguments in favour of providing a European citizenship with efficient formalization and material content were the following: 1) the gap between the level of economic integration and that of political integration, which reduces the degree of legitimacy and effectiveness of the Agreements and decisions of the Community bodies; 2) the “democratic deficit” or the weak representativeness of the European institutions vis-à-vis the citizens; 3) the participatory dimension of democracy is practically non-existent, the moments of debate and of information, of social mobilization, on the European construction, have been scarce; (4) the lack of a European community space, the limited cultural and educational space and linguistic diversity make it difficult to construct a European socio-cultural identity; 5) the absence of a mobilizing and legitimating political-ideological project and supra-constitutional institutional and juridical references that provide the scope for the development of European citizenship; 6) the social dimension of European citizenship cannot fall below the content already acquired in each country; and 7) to diminish the political and legal distinction between “nationals”, “community foreigners” and “non-EU foreigners” (Borja, Dourthe, & Peugeot, 2001: pp. 41-50) .

10 Habermas (1992, 2004) argues that his ideal of deliberative democracy contains elements of liberalism in its institutional network, and of republicanism in its emphasis on the inherent value of participation in political deliberation. But it does not have the limited vision of citizenship that liberalism does, nor does it unrealistically assume the degree of community and political commitment for the public good required by the most prominent republicanism. Deliberative democracy does not presuppose that all politics is based on an agreement reached through discourse, since the reasoned consensus that can be conclusively accepted and justified by all involved is an ideal that might never be fully achieved, and the Agreement in practice depends on shared assumptions and elements of political culture.

11Social movements can create a cosmopolitan public sphere through critical debates about public issues that become cosmopolitan themselves when networks of communication and audience transcend national boundaries. A developing cosmopolitan public sphere renews democracy within the state through international civil society associations and decision-making by citizens.

12One possible explanation for the French and Dutch rejection of the European Constitution is that, for both nations, issues of social and economic interest were of primary importance (mainly concern about employment and the quality of Welfare State services). Transformations in the EU (in particular those related to the then recent amplification from 15 to 25 members, mainly from Eastern European countries) were seen as factors which would only worsen an already complicated situation.

13After the rejection of the constitution, it was decided to abandon the format of the Treaty that was agreed upon in 2004 and to negotiate a classic treaty instead. In 2007 this led to the integration of the Lisbon Treaty, where, once again, the inclusion of the Charter of Fundamental Rights was one of the controversial issues. The United Kingdom and Poland showed their opposition to the Charter. The conflict was resolved through a compromise by integrating a small reference that replaces the full text of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Article 6, paragraph 1, of the Treaty of Lisbon stipulates: “The Union recognizes the rights, freedoms and principles enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of 7 December 2000, as adapted in Strasbourg on 12 December 2007”. The declaration stipulates that the Charter does not establish any new powers or tasks for the Union, nor does it modify powers or tasks as defined in the Treaties.

14Environmental movements questioned the legitimacy of traditional political arrangements by raising serious doubts about the ability of the state to solve certain environmental problems, demonstrating that bioregional and ecological borders do not respect national boundaries. They have also raised fundamental questions about which modern societies dominate and appropriate nature for production, consumption and exchange. In other words, environmental movements have confronted not only the principle of state sovereignty but also the sovereignty of the modern individual, and their anthropocentrism, thus shifting the focus away from them. Environmental movements question the very place of humans in the realm of “nature”.

15The main obligation of ecological citizenship is that it has a sustainable impact. This obligation is indeterminate, but a key element is to understand it as a normative dimension. Understood as universal, the obligations encompassing the relations of all human beings can be ascribed to individuals or to states. Obligations are attributable to citizens beyond their constitutional political definition, have an asymmetrical and non-reciprocal character, and must be adapted to the present and to the future (Dobson, 2006: pp. 117-127) .

16Many environmental problems are constitutively of an international character and their effects do not respect national borders. Ecological citizenship develops a new political conception of space built on moral grounds rather than historical arguments. In this sense, there is a specific ecological conception of the political space in which citizen obligations are situated. The space of ecological citizenship is not something given by the limits of the organization of the nation state; it is a product of the metabolic and material relationship of individuals with their environment. Ecological citizenship is a description of moral and political rights and obligations in a democratic community, in terms of its responsibility to other human beings taking into account the preservation of environmental sustainability (Dobson, 2006: pp. 97-117; Crane, Matter, & Moon, 2008: pp.149-155) .

17The politics of virtue of ecological citizenship focuses its participation mainly on the activity within the public sphere. Ecological citizenship pays little attention to the type of normative political participation such as voting or elections, although it does not discard them. So the procedural virtues of liberal democracy and political participation are not fundamental to ecological citizenship.

18Cosmopolitanists can be divided into two: on the one hand the position of political cosmopolitanists who advocate the creation of universal political institutions on a global level, while moral cosmopolitanists, on the other, promote universal principles that do not necessarily justify global institutions but the basis upon which institutions should be justified or criticized. Both moral and political cosmopolitanism revolve around moral obligation and identification with the human species, but political cosmopolitans seek to provide the political infrastructure of a universal political community and a democratic system that radically delimits the state. This means the development of a world in which all people have an entry into a single global democracy. The main theorists of political cosmopolitanism are Daniele Archubugi, Richard Falk, Anthony McGrew and especially David Held’s defense of Cosmopolitan democracy (Slaughter, 2007: pp. 86-89) .

19The cosmopolitan democratic public law is a common legal structure that is woven through diverse political communities and multiple citizenships. It permeates all levels of global political life; states are not the only form of governance operating within cosmopolitan democracy. Cities, communities and even civil society organizations will be subject to cosmopolitan democratic law. This also brings out the distinct need for clearer rules to determine what kinds of issues are being addressed and at what levels of governance (Slaughter, 2007: pp. 88-89) .

20Recent developments in international law have had a significant impact on individuals and prospects for a cosmopolitan citizenship. If international law is interpreted in a cosmopolitan way, then the global citizen acting within the State has more force in resisting the policy of a government that contravenes international law. A different concept of cosmopolitan citizenship allows us to establish the idea in which individuals are bearers of minimum rights directly derived from international law. This is a rather abstract and rhetorical position if the appeal is only to the principles of natural law and general declarations of rights, and if individuals have no means to assert their rights. The fact that the international rights of some individuals can now be secured does not mean that everyone can be insured, even in liberal and constitutional states. Therefore, the idea that all individuals can be cosmopolitan citizens with rights under international law is a goal idea that is still very far from reality (Carter, 2001: pp. 184-187) .

21A cosmopolitan civil order is more likely to emerge from the horizons of civil organizations like Amnesty International, Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace, than from the European Union or the United Nations. Within these arguments, cosmopolitan forms of dialogue would need to be linked to issues of cultural identity as much as to the construction of institutions. The process of building a global civil society would require a new form of “educated citizenship” that allows negotiation in relation to others, the discovery of cultural plurality and difference, the opening of more cosmopolitan horizons and interconnections with nature. In order for a genuinely cosmopolitan citizenship to emerge, it would need to have the intellectual and emotional capacities to be able to engage in a plural dialogue within new public spaces (Stevenson, 2003: pp. 42-44; Waldron, 2003: pp. 23-55) .

22Multi-level cosmopolitan governance would offer new opportunities for dialogue through different actors of civil society and levels of government. Revitalized local and transnational political structures would seek to provide the institutional basis for the conversation that would dissolve older divisions between citizens and foreigners, differences in culture, time and place would be more flexible, such dialogues would provide the basis for a new global society (Stevenson, 2003: pp. 38-41) .

23In this respect, Ulrich Beck (2005: pp.183-188) is extremely pessimistic. For this author the hope that, with the end of the war between states, the war as such would also end and an era of peace begin has proved to be illusory. “The monster of war has not been defeated, but it has changed its face”. New wars have been fought and will continue to be fought, and new cruelties have always been added. If the old wars between states ended at a certain moment with the victory of one side, the new wars lack space and time frontier. The post-national war has become unfathomable and does not imply that the classic war between states has disappeared. The war is a product of the de-monopolization and privatization of organized violence by terrorists, warlords, and so on.

24For Ulrich Beck (2001: pp. 66-71) , the possibility of establishing a viable cosmopolitan democracy is linked to the discussion about establishing transnational parties of global citizens. The topic would be the implantation of cosmopolitan parties that represent transnational matters in a transnational way. Yet these can only exist, both programmatically and organizationally, in a plural mode, as national and global movements, as parties for cosmopolitan citizens. They would be cosmopolitan parties in three different ways: first, their values and ends would be shaped by reference to humanitarian traditions common to all cultures and religions; secondly, they would place global issues clearly at the center of their political imagination, and their programs of action will always drive reforms in national political systems so that they can take up these issues; lastly, they would be organized as multinational parties, cosmopolitan movements of different national origin, interconnected in the many niches of global society.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.


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