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Global Citizenship and the Right of Access to Justice



Global Citizenship and the Right of Access to Justice: Adapting T.H. Marshall’s Ideas to the Interconnected World

Dr. Marina Aksenova


The right of access to justice is both procedural in that it guarantees availability of certain recourse mechanisms, not necessarily limited to a purely judicial route via courts, and a substantive entitlement allowing for the enforcement of the idea of justice as fairness in the context of present-day reality. Right of access to justice as an attribute of the emerging global citizenship denotes our shared understanding that accountability comes in many forms and shapes, which are becoming gradually available to individuals and grassroots organisations on a global scale. This trend is powered by the technological advancements and the evolution of institutions tasked with ensuring world-wide interconnectedness.

Prof. Marina Aksenova will present a paper dwelling on the scope of the idea of global citizenship at Waseda University in Tokyo on 1-2 March 2023 at a conference on Global Crisis and Global Legal Orders. This paper critically engages with Thomas Marshall’s essay on citizenship published in 1950, arguing that despite several limitations that became apparent in recent decades, this work is an important signpost on the road to building a comprehensive account of global citizenship as a status belonging to all of humanity.


Thomas Marshall’s seminal essay ‘Citizenship and Social Class’ published in 1950 discusses the idea of citizenship as a status granting formal equality to all members of a community. The same work enumerates categories of gradually evolving rights – civil, political and social – that belong to such status and consolidate it.


A modern observer can come up with a number of pertinent criticisms of Marshall’s work, such as his overly simplified and linear account of the various categories of rights underlying the status of citizenship, his exclusive focus on citizenship within one state and his disregard of how this notion functions outside of the nation state in question (the United Kingdom), and finally, his undue focus on reconciling the irreconcilable – market forces and inequality. Marshall’s emphasis on one nation concealed the inherent privileges brought about by certain citizenship statuses and not others.


This paper argues that despite obvious critical points, Marshall’s essay sets out a relevant theoretical framework for contemporary study of the idea of global citizenship and its normative content, which consists of a few individual and collective rights slowly gaining traction vis-à-vis the international community. It is precisely the points of contention enumerated in the previous paragraph that make Marshall’s essay interesting for the supporters of the global human rights movement. The emphasis he placed on equality implicit in the status of a citizen of a certain state receives new meaning if seen from the perspective of a global citizenship. The idea of an inclusive worldwide community to which every individual belongs sets the stage for a new account of equality that goes beyond merely economic or political privileges granted by national citizenship. This version of equality is rooted in the idea of human dignity – a common core that unites people around the world beyond any specific identity acquired through culture and nurture.


To read the full paper click here:

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Marina Aksenova: Assistant Professor of International and Comparative Criminal Law at IE University, Madrid. Marina.aksenova@ie.edu


T. H. Marshall, Citizenship and Social Class and Other Essays (Cambridge University Press, 1950).

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