World Citizen Number One – Garry Davis

World Citizen Garry Davis
Old version of the document

Garry Davis is a U.S. soldier during World War II and considers how a future peace can be permanently maintained. His idea is that nation-states must be abolished, and people must become world citizens. But not everyone likes that. World Citizen Garry Davis

In the summer of 1957, the U.S. American Garry Davis enters the Federal Republic illegally via France. In Helmstedt, he wants to cross the GDR border in the direction of Berlin. But the GDR police officers take him off the train and send him back. The only passport he can show he has issued himself is the “Weltbürger-Passport Number One.” World Citizen Garry Davis

The World Passport is a fantasy travel document sold by the World Service Authority, a non-profit organization founded by Garry Davis in 1954.

The West German authorities also reacted allergically to this. On August 9, 1957, Davis received a penalty order for traveling without valid papers. Because he cannot pay the fine of 100 marks, Davis has to spend a few days in the court prison in Hanover as a substitute.

Shot down over Peenemünde
Backstory: During World War II, Davis, a bomber pilot, is shot down over Peenemünde. He rescues himself from the plane, makes his way to Sweden, and is interned until the war’s end. Trained as an actor, he has plenty of time on his hands and ponders the question, “Why wait until war breaks out to fight for peace?” World Citizen Garry Davis

For him, the competing nation states are the cause of all evil. Instead, he wants to establish a world government. Everyone should receive the same passport as the “world citizen passport. For Davis, the national passport is an appropriation document to make citizens state property.

Camped out on UN grounds
In 1948, Davis took action when the UN debated the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and threatened to fail. He travels to Paris, where the United Nations is meeting. He hands in his passport at the U.S. consulate. In front of running cameras, he burns his just-issued replacement passport and declares himself a stateless world citizen.

A stateless man, Davis sets up a small tent on the extraterritorial grounds of the United Nations and writes press releases with his travel typewriter. Eventually, he hijacks a UN meeting and delivers a speech from the visitors’ balcony. The police intervene. But the imprisoned Davis is supported by Albert Camus, Albert Einstein, and Albert Schweitzer and is soon released. World Citizen Garry Davis

Midwife of human rights
Davis events now draw up to 20,000 people. Crowds besiege the railing of the UN. On December 10, 1948, the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” was adopted. Without Davis, things would probably have turned out differently.

Garry Davis continues to rely on individual actions, such as founding the “World Citizens Passport Agency,” where around 750,000 people register. Davis, who lived alternately in France and the U.S., repeatedly clashed with the authorities. In 1984, for example, he was expelled from Japan. He also issued his “world citizen passports” to Julian Assange and Edward Snowdon – before he died in South Burlington in 2013 at 91. World Citizen Garry Davis

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