Many of us may not know about it, but there is such a thing as the World Passport. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like - an international travel document. This passport is issued by the World Service Authority, a non-profit organisation started back in 1954, and cites article 13(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -
"Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."
What is the world passport and how does one get it?
The World Service Authority was founded in 1954 by former Broadway actor, World War II fighter pilot and renowned international peace activist Garry Davis after he renounced his U.S. citizenship and declared himself a 'citizen of the world.'
Based out of Washington, the Authority promotes the idea of belonging to the world instead of being from one particular country. Apart from the passport, they also offer world marriage certificates, world birth cards, and other official documents generally issued by the different governments of the world. And yes, anyone can become a citizen of the world!
The World Service Authority encourages everyone to get a world passport. All one needs to do is visit the World Service Authority website, fill out an application, notify how long you need the passport for and send it to them. It's that easy. A 10-year world passport costs around $100, plus shipping and handling which comes to an additional $100 for people living in Asia.
And what does it mean to the average world traveller?
At the time of its introduction to a war-torn world, a world passport was Davis' way of giving stateless people and refugees of the world not just easy identification, but also a simplified means to securely cross international borders. The World Service Authority believed the passport would represent "the inalienable human right of freedom of travel on planet Earth".
The relevance of the world passport in the modern world, however, recently came into question when American rapper and actor Mos Def - or Yasiin Bey, as he's more commonly known - was detained at a South African airport for trying to exit the country using this document. It is said the rapper will be tried in court on the account of false identity, unofficial passport, and for helping his family stay in the South Africa illegally. Bey is one of the few influential people around the world to possess a World Passport along with the likes of Barrack Obama, Edward Snowden, Oprah Winfrey and Julian Assange.
Although the website lists 183 countries that have stamped a visa or entry/exit stamp on a world passport, therefore recognizing its validity, it also adds that there are over 150 countries which have visa-ed it only on a case-by-case basis. That's not all. Garry Davis himself has been thrown in jail over a dozen times for making use of the world passport. So, the uncertainty over whether it is recognized or not still remains.
Should you get one?
On the one hand the increasing threat of terror attacks around the world and international terror outfits attempting to breach national security all around the globe, doubles the risk involved in trying to enter a country with a world passport. Because for all you know it could either land you in jail, or, if taken lightly, this document could end up becoming a terrorist's favourite weapon.
But on the other hand, the ideal that the World Service Authority is promoting is indeed one that all of humanity should aspire for. A person being able to identify with a community of people from across the globe instead of being restricted by borders is after all the dream, isn't it?
I suppose only the future will tell how realistic this dream is. What do you think?