The Idea of International Citizenship

  • Kimberly Hutchings
Part of the University of Reading European and International Studies book series (UREIS)


The argument of this chapter has two aspects to it. On the one hand I want to make a case for using a conception of ‘international citizenship’ as one way of articulating issues of ethico-political identity and agency in relation to rights and responsibilities within the international arena. On the other hand, in parallel with this argument, I want to address the broader question of what are the most useful philosophical frameworks for making judgments about ethical issues in a global context. The former part of my argument overlaps considerably with the concerns of Holden’s chapter in this volume on the possibilities of global democracy. Like Holden I would argue that it is possible to think of ‘rule of the people’ beyond the constraints of the nation state and without the attainment of world government. Thinking about the idea of international citizenship is another way of raising the question of who ‘the people’ are or might be in different kinds of trans-state political, and potentially democratic, processes. There are, however, peculiar difficulties with defining ‘the people’ in this context, most notably the fact that the international arena is full of actors who are not individual persons, even though they may be bearers of rights (as well as responsibilities) in a way analogous to the individual citizens of a domestic state. Through a discussion of recent work on the idea of citizenship in the domestic context and of an article by Linklater, ‘What is a Good International Citizen?’,1


Political Identity Moral Consciousness Moral Progress Ethical Life Ethical Universalism 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    A. Linklater, ‘What is a Good International Citizen?’, in P. Keal (ed.), Ethics and Foreign Policy (St Leonards, NSW: Allen and Unwin, 1992). It should be noted that Linklater’s essay was written in the context of a discussion of Australia’s role as an international citizen and that the emphasis on the state within this essay is not necessarily representative of Linklater’s approach to international relations in other examples of his work.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    See C. Mouffe, ‘Democratic Citizenship and the Political Community’, in Mouffe (ed.), Dimensions of Radical Democracy pp. 226–8.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    The argument that modern conceptions of citizenship in terms of entitlement have encouraged political passivity and discouraged civic responsibility is one which has been taken up from very different points of the political spectrum. See T. Skillen, ‘Active Citizenship as Political Obligation’, Radical Philosophy, 58 (1991), pp. 10–13.Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    Linklater discusses these three traditions at greater length in his book, Beyond Realism and Marxism: Critical Theory and International Relations (London: Macmillan, 1990).Google Scholar
  5. 15.
    For a more detailed account of Kantian political theory see K. Hutchings, ‘The Possibility of Judgement: Moralizing and Theorizing in International Relations’, Review of International Studies, 18 (1992) 51–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 20.
    This point is made very clearly by Benhabib in her discussions of contemporary debate in ethical theory, see S. Benhabib, Situating the Self: Gender, Community and Postmodernism in Contemporary Ethics (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992).Google Scholar
  7. 23.
    I. Kant, ‘Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch’, in H. Reiss (ed.), Kant’s Political Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), p. 108.Google Scholar
  8. 24.
    J. A. Camilleri and J. Falk, The End of Sovereignty? (Aldershot: Edward Elgar, 1992), pp. 254–5.Google Scholar
  9. 27.
    L. P. Thiele, ‘Making Democracy Safe for the World: Social Movements and Global Politics’, Alternatives, 18 (1993) p. 278.Google Scholar
  10. 29.
    G. W. F. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 189–198.Google Scholar
  11. 30.
    M. Foucault, ‘The Subject and Power’, in H. L. Dreyfus and P. Rabi-now (eds), Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester, 1982), p. 216.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kimberly Hutchings

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