7 Billion Citizens of the World


In 1983, I met an old sage who had fled the war, leaving behind his village, and his past. Along with his family, he had moved to a place close to the border. One hand raised, he bade the caravan to stop. He stated that he would go no further, that their camp would be in that place so that he might be able to gaze upon his land, and this decision was irrevocable. No one dared oppose this elder, so their lives were organized around his edict. He spent his days reading the Koran or poetry. My own exile was still a recent one. He told me: “Your home, your country, your history are within you, if you simply allow them to enter. Wherever you go, they will follow you.”

In 2013, from an historical standpoint, our march towards liberty and the respect of human rights seems far longer than the road to exile of this sage. Throughout history, thousands of men and women have dedicated their lives to light the way down this road. They have worked for liberty and justice, patiently laying the foundations for a world in which each inhabitant would have universal citizenship.

On May 23rd, I received one of the first Universal Citizenship Passports at UNESCO, alongside major figures of civil society, politicians and artists. This symbolic act, made possible thanks to agents of change such as St├ęphane Hessel, was a great honor for me.

Over the course of the ceremony, my thoughts went out to the millions of men, women,  and children who are refugees, displaced, or homeless. They are the first victims of the injustices of our world, and need to be recognized as universal citizens.

Today, I solemnly make the wish that our family, the human family, will soon receive seven million Universal Citizenship Passports.



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