Singer, P.

(2002) “One World: The Ethics of Globalization (second
edition)”, Yale University Press, London
A summary by: Felix de Jongh, University of Amsterdam.

Contents Page#

1 A Changing World 1
2 One Atmosphere 14
3 One Economy 51
4 One Law 106
5 One Community 150
6 A Better World? 196

disclaimer: I have not proofread this summary, nor am I a native English-speaker. Therefore, some
sentences might make no sense to some. This should not be considered a definitive summary, just
something I did to help me study for my exam. I hope you can overlook any flaws, as I provide this
summary to you free of charge.
Chapter 1: A Changing World
page 1-13

Globalization can have a wide variety of aspects. Singer names two examples: the terrorist attacks on
9/11 and the emission of carbon dioxide from SUV's. The first brought instant death to many, the
second contributes to global warming which will slowly kill much more people world wide, destroying
crops in Africa, rising sea levels and spreading tropical diseases. George W. Bush, the (then) 'leader' of
the globalized world, stated: “We will not do anything that harms our economy, because first things
first are the people who live in America”. Fuel efficiency standards in the US haven't been raised since
It is not just Bush who held this 'America-first' point of view; his father stated at the 1992 Earth
Summit “the American lifestyle is not up for negotiation”. Clinton wasn't prepared to risk the life of
American soldiers in the Balkan to reduce the number of civilian casualties, so they bombed it and
caused about 500 civilian deaths. However, no American soldier had been killed.
Timothy Garton Ash suggests there is a strong ethical case for saying that it is wrong for leaders to
give absolute priority to the interests of their own citizens, as the value of the life of an innocent human
being does not vary according to nationality (p.4). However, political leaders are not bound to consider
the citizens of other nations, just like parents aren't bound to provide for someone else's children. There
is no world political community, just nation-states, and the leaders of those nation-states need to protect
their own citizens.
Another question this poses is: “is the division of the world's people into sovereign nations a
dominant and unalterable fact of life?” A calculation by the UN points out that 2,500 trained military
personel could have saved 800,000 Rwandese from genocide. Kofi Annan urged “the world cannot
stand aside when gross and systematic violations of human rights are taking place. […] We need
legitimate and universal principles on which we can base intervention.” This means a redefinition of
state sovereignty.
When in 1914 the Austro-Hungarian crown prince was murdered, the Austrian government made
demands to the Serbs that were labeled vicious and tyrannical by other countries. However, when the
US made roughly the same demands to the Taliban after 9/11, the security council endorsed it. World
leaders now accept that every nation has an obligation to every other nation of the world to suppress
activities within its borders that might lead to terrorist attacks in other countries.

Implicit in the term “globalization” rather than the old “internationalization” is the idea that we are
moving beyond the era of growing ties between nations and are beginning to contemplate something
beyond existing conception of the nation-state.
In his work “A Theory of Justice” (eds: veil of ignorance), Rawls assumes that the people making
the choice (of what is justice) all belong to the same society and are choosing principles to achieve
justice within their society. When he concludes people seek to improve the conditions of the 'worst off',
while limiting the conception of 'worst off' to those within one's own society. People must be ignorant
of their own citizenship to change the conditions of the 'worst off' in the world. Rawls's model is an
international order, not a global order.

Technology changes everything, as Marx stated. Not only do we buy fresh vegetables from Africa,
planes bring illegal immigrants looking for a better existence. Advanced communication spreads the
nature of international trade from actual goods to skilled services. When capital is internationally
mobile, raising taxes risks triggering a flight of capital to other countries. When you wear the 'Golden
Straitjacket' (a set of policies that involve freeing up the private sector of the economy, shrinking
bureaucracy, keeping inflation low, and removing restrictions on foreign investment – Thomas
Friedman) the differences between major parties shrink to differences over minor ways in which the
jacket might be adjusted.
Marx argued we never reject advances in the means by which we satisfy our material needs, hence
history is driven by the growth of productive forces. He also believed that a society's ethic is a
reflection of the economic structure to which its technology has given rise.
The thesis of this book is how well we come through the era of globalization will depend on how
we respond ethically to the idea that we live in one world. For the rich nations not to take a global
ethical viewpoint has long been seriously morally wrong. Now it is also, in the long term, a danger to
their security.
Chapter 2: One Atmosphere
page 14-50

the problem
there can be no clearer illustration of the need for human beings to act globally than the issues
raised by the impact of human activity on our atmosphere. The threat of CFCs to the ozone layer was
discovered in the 1970s. Causing skin cancer and the rapid growth of algae. Getting rid of CFCs was
merely the curtain raiser, the main event is climate change, or global warming.
The reported consequences will be that between 1990 and 2100, temperatures will rise between 1.4
and 5.8 degrees celcius. It is possible the changes could be enough to reach critical tipping points at
which the weather systems alter or the directions of major ocean currents such as the gulf stream,
change. This could have variable effects for humans:

- As oceans become warmer, hurricanes and tropical storms that are now largely confined to the tropics
will move farther from the equator, hitting large urban areas that have not been built to cope with them.
This is a prospect that is viewed with great concern in the insurance industry, which has already seen
the cost of natural disasters rise dramatically in recent decades.
- Tropical diseases will become more widespread (eds: e.g. Malaria)
- Food production will rise in some regions, especially in the high northern latitudes, and fall in others,
including sub-saharan Africa.
- Sea levels will rise by between 9 and 88 cm.

Rich countries would, at a high cost, be able to defend themselves from these effects. In Bangladesh, 70
million peoples will be affected by rising tides, either by losing their lands or losing their lives. The
same goes for China and Egypt. Heat stress could kill a lot more people, but on the other side of the
spectrum, deaths from winter cold could decrease.
The cost for animals and biodiversity would be most severe. Where possible, animals would
migrate along with their favourite climate. However, for some regions this is impossible, for instance in
Australia. All of this forces us to think about our ethics, our value system evolved in circumstances in
which the atmosphere, like the oceans, seemed an unlimited resource.

Rio and Kyoto
There is a gap in environmental legislation on a global basis. However, if Norway can sue Great Britain
for radioactive lobster due to a leaking nuclear power plant, Kiribati could possibly sue the United
States for greenhouse gases. Accepting their claims makes us one world in a new and far more
sweeping sense than before, which gives rise to a need for concerted international action.
In 1988 the International Panel on Climate Change was initiated by the UN Environment Program
and the World Meteorological Office. In 1990 the IPCC concluded the threat of climate change was
The 1997 Kyoto protocol set targets for 39 developed countries to limit or reduce their emissions
by 2012. To assist countries reach their goals it accepted the principle of emissions trading, where one
country can trade emission with another which has some to spare. The protocol didn't settle on details
of how countries could meet their targets, and how emission trading was to operate. In 2001 in Bonn
and Marrakech, 178 countries reached an agreement that makes it possible for the Kyoto Protocol to go
into effect. The US was not part of this agreement.
Skeptics say the protocol will only slow the climate change, not reverse it, and that the costs of
putting the agreement into effect are not worth it. These costs could be used to develop the poorest
countries economically and ecologically so they can cope better with climate change. Lomborg states
the Kyoto Protocol will lead to a net loss of 150$ Billion. But, if the developing nations join in once
they see the developed nations are serious it could lead to a net benefit of $61 Billion through
emissions trading. These numbers by Lomborg don't reflect the deaths by natural disasters or diseases.
An ethical, not an economic justification would be needed for counting suffering and deaths.

What is an Equitable Distribution?
In regards to fairness, it is custom to follow Robert Nozick's definition in distinguishing between
historical and time-slice principles. An historical principle is one that says: we can't decide, merely by
looking at the present situation, whether a giver distribution of goods is just or unjust – we must also
ask how the situation came about and its history. Are the parties entitled, by an originally justifiable
acquisition and a chain of legitimate transfers to the holdings they now have? If so, the present
distribution is just. A time-slice principle looks at the existing distribution and asks if that distribution
satisfies some principles of fairness, irrespective of any preceding sequence of events.

A Historical Principle: “You broke it, now you fix it”.
In 1690, John Locke stated: “The earth and all that is therein is given to men for the support and
comfort of their being.” The earth and its contents “belong to mankind in common”. Private property
can exist because our labor is our own, hence when we mix our own labor with the land and its
products, we make them our own. According to Locke, as long as the appropriation of what is held in
common does not prevent there being “enough and as good left in common for others”. This
justification of the acquisition of private propertyis the classic historical account of how property is
legitimate. The same goes for producing waste.
The global atmosphere is a sponge in which we pour our waste. It has however, reached its full
capacity and is now causing harm to others. It becomes impossible to justify polluting by claiming that
we are leaving “enough and as good” for others. It has become a finite resource which needs to be
allocated justly.
Smith, along with Locke, also justified the right of the rich to their wealth. His 'invisible hand'
would bring about a distribution that is nearly the same if wealth was evenly distributed. In order to
obtain what they want, the rich spread their wealth troughout the entire economy.
The historical grounds for private property cannot be applied to the current use of the atmosphere.
Locke's and Smith's arguments imply that this appropriation of a resource once common to all mankind
is not justifiable. The global distribution of wealth is the result of the wrongful expropriation by a
small fraction of the world's population of a resource that belongs to all human beings in common.

Time-Slice Principles
The historical view puts forth that the developed nations are to blame. In their defense, at the time they
put most of their greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, they did not know of the limits to the capacity
of said atmosphere to absorb them. It would therefore be fairer, it may be claimed, to make a fresh start
and set standards that look to the future rather than the past. Although, even here, one could argue that
ignorance is no excuse and a stricter standard of liability should prevail, especially since the developed
nations reaped the benefits of their early industrialization.

An Equal Share for Everyone
Everyone has the same claim to part of the atmosphere as everyone else. We need to ask how much
carbon each country would be allowed to emit and compare that with what they are now emitting. The
first question would be, what is the total acceptable level of carbon emission. If we focus on stabilizing
carbon emissions at their present levels, the allocation per person works out at about 1 metric ton per
Now compare some actual per capita emissions for some key nations. The US produces more than
5 tons. Japan and Western European nations have per capita emissions that range from 1.6 to 4.2 tons.
In the developing world, emissions average .6 tons, China at .76 and India at .29. India can raise it
more than 3 times, while the US has to drop to 20% of their current emissions.
One objection to this approach is that allowing countries to have allocations based on the number of
people they have gives them insufficient incentive to do anything about population growth. A nation
that increases its population imposes additional burdens on other nations, as the emission per capita
would diminish. Nations with zero growth would have to decrease their carbon outputs.
Different countries have different proportions of young people about to hit the reproductive age to
those with older residents. Per capita allocation could be based on an estimate of a country's likely
population at some given future date. Rewards and Penalties could be given out if countries differ from
that estimate (reward for lower, penalty for higher pop.)

Aiding the Worst-off
This is all a fair starting point, a position that should prevail unless there are good reasons from moving
from it. Are there? Fairness also takes the view that we should improve the prospects of those who are
worst off, if their poverty is due to circumstances for which they are not responsible.
Rawls holds that, when we distribute goods, we can only justify giving more to those who are
already well off if this will improve the position of those who are worst off. Otherwise, we should only
give to those who are at the lowest level. This approach departs from 'equality'. In accordance with
Rawls's principle, the only grounds on which one could argue against rich nations bearing all the costs
of reducing emissions would be that to do so would make the poor nations even worse off than they
would have been if the rich nations were not bearing all the costs. George W. Bush's announcements
(chapter 1) was an attempt to make this case. However, economic growth only benefits US citizens.

The Greatest Happiness Principle
Classic Utilitarians would not support any of the principles of fairness discussed so far. The would ask
what proposal would lead to the greatest net happiness (=what is left after deducting suffering). How
would one do such a calculation? What way of capping greenhouse gases would lead to the greatest net

Fairness: A Proposal
Singer supports the principle of equal per capita future entitlements, due to its simplicity and its
suitability to political compromise. By saying “forget about the past, lets start anew” the pure equal per
capita share principle is a lot more favorable to the developed nations than a historically based principle
would be.
The fact that 178 nations (excluding the US) have now indicated their intention to ratify the Kyoto
protocol makes the position of the US odious from an ethical perspective. The claim the protocol does
not require the developing nations to do their share does not stand up to scrutiny. Americans are really
demanding that the poor nations of the world commit themselves to a level that gives them in
perpetuity, lower levels of greenhouse gas production per capita than the rich nations have.
There is a mechanism can make the transition towards capped greenhouse gas emissions that would
make it much easier for industrialized countries; emissions trading. This could provide great benefits
for developing nations. The point of the protocol is not to punish nations with high emissions, but to
produce the best outcome for the atmosphere. Emissions trading gives us a better chance at achieving
its goals.
Since global emissions trading is both possible and desirable, it also answers two objections to
allocating greenhouse emissions quotas on the basis of equal per capita shares. It answers the objection
raised when disccussing a utilitarian approach to these problems (net happiness). Second, global
emissions trading answers the objection that equal per capita shares would lead to inefficient
production because countries with little industrialization would be able to continue to manufacture
goods even though they emit more greenhouse gases per unit of economic activity than highly
industrialized nations would have to cut back on their manufacturing capacity.
There are two objections to emissions trading, one scientific and one ethical. Scientific: we do not
have the means to measure emissions accurately for all countries, so it is impossible to put quota's in
place. Ethical: In the absence of any legitimate government that government that can receive payment
for quota (due to corruption, authoritarian gov, etc) payment can be received by an institution
governerd by the UN.

Down from the Clouds
Since 1990 US emissions have risen by 14%. Half-hearted measures proposed by GW Bush will at best
slow that trend, not reverse it. The aim for this chapter helps us to see there is no ethical basis for the
present distribution of the atmosphere's capacity to absorb greenhouse gases without dramatic climate
change. If industrialized countries, like the US, refrain from taking measures, they excercize their rights
as sovereign nations. The military power these nations yield makes it impossible to impose a more
ethically defensible solution on them.
Chapter 3: One Economy
page 51 – 105

The World Trade Organisation Fracas
If there is one organisation that critics of globalizations point to as responsible for pushing the process
onward (in the wrong way) is the WTO. A widespread view of the WTO sees it as the mechanism for
“accelerating and extending the transfer of peoples' sovereignty from nation states to global
Has any non-criminal organization ever been so vehemently condemned on such wide-ranging
grounds by critics from so many different countries as the WTO? The regime of trade and investment
fostered by the WTO has “unleashed global economic forces that systematically punish ecologically
sound forestry while rewarding destructive practices that accelerate forest degradation”, according to
Victor Menotti (director of a US-based environment program). According to a British campaigner for
farm animals, the WTO is “the biggest threat facing animal welfare today”. Someone else thinks its an
“instrument to govern the South”. An Indian writes the rules of the WTO are “primarily rules of
robbery, camouflaged by arithmetic and legalese”, and global free trade in food and agriculture is “the
biggest refugee creation program in the world, leading to slavery.”

After the 1999 Seattle WTO-summit (which had a lot of protests), politicians and capitalists swiftly
dismissed the protesters as falling into two groups: firstly those who had good intentions in their
concern to protect the environment or help the world's poorest people but were naïve and misled by
their emotions; and those who, under the cynical guise of defending human rights and the environment,
were seeking to protect their own well-paid jobs in inefficient industries by high tariff barriers that raise
costs for domestic consumers and leave workers in less developed countries stuck in dire poverty (i.e.
against free-trade).
Bill Clinton and Tony blair were quick learners, stating that genuine issues had been raised and they
needed serious consideration. However, there was no real discussion of what those issues might be or
how they might be resolved. Globalization was seen as unquestionable. The alternative was just
“globaphobia”. Endlessly repeated rituals of street theater (eds: demonstrations) do not provide
opportunities for the kind of discussion that is needed.

The Four Charges
Among the many charges commonly made against the WTO, four are central to any assessment of the
role that the WTO, and economic globalization more generally, plays in forming a world that is
different from anything that has existed up to now:

1. The WTO places economic considerations ahead of concerns for the environment, animal welfare,
and even human rights.
2. The WTO erodes national sovereignty
3. The WTO is undemocratic
4. The WTO increases inequality; or (a strong charge) it makes the rich richer and leaves the world's
poorest people even worse off than they would otherwise have been.

The WTO was established during the “Uruguay Round” of talks held by the GATT, and came into
existence in January 1995. By January 2002 it had 144 member nations, accounting for 97% of the
world trade. It is foundated by the belief in specialization of production. If one member nation believes
that it is disadvantaged by actions taken by another member nation that are breach of the 30.000 page
rule book, the first nation can make a complaint. If the offending nation keeps their practices up, the
WTO can even impose tariffs against its own goods (i.e. goods produced by the offending nation)

The First Charge: Economics as Trumps
The WTO officially stated commercial interests take precedence over environmental production.
However, they state that members of the WTO “can, should and do take measures to protect
endangered species”, to which it adds: “What's important in the WTO's rules is that measures taken to
protect the environment must not be unfair. For example, they must not disciminate. You cannot be
lenient with your own producers and at the same time be strict with foreign goods and services.”
This could mean the US could impose a ban on imported tuna caught with methods that drown
dolphins, as long as it also prohibits the sale of tuna caught by american ships with the same methods.
The WTO opposes, it seems, only measures that use environmental protection as a guise for the
protection of domestic industries against foreign competition.

The misuse of the Product/Process distinction
There is a distinction between product (the quality or content) and process (the way it is produced),
which is crucial to understanding the impact of WTO rules in many areas. A country cannot ban a
product on the basis of the process by which the product was made but only by showing that the
banned product is differint in its inherent nature from other products. Precedents are, for instance:

In 1991 the EU agreed to prohibit the sale of furs that had come from animals caught in steel-jaw
leghold traps (bear traps). These traps crush and hold the animal's lag, holding the animal until the
trapper returns (often days). Nocturnal animals are so terrified of daylight they often chew of their
own leg, or they die of dehidration. It is however, impossible to tell if a pelt has come from an
animal caught in one of these traps or a relatively humane method. Thus, the EU banned the import
from countries that had not banned the steel-jaw traps. US, Canada and Russia filed complaints
with the WTO, and the EU caved in. (Similarly, the EU banned cosmetics tested on animals, but
was advised that this would be in breach of the WTO rules. The ban was never implemented)

The WTO decisions rest on the claim that the product (the fur, the cosmetics) is the same product as
other products allowed to be sold in the country. The fact they are the outcome of a different process is
irrelevant. Why this is, might be hinted by the tuna-dolphin example: “if the US arguments were
accepted, then any country could ban imports of a product from another country merely because the
exporting country has different environmental, health and social policies from its own. […] The door
would be opened to a possible flood of protectionist abuses”.
The argument assumes that the value of preventing such a flood of protectionist abuses is greater
than the value of protecting the environment, animals, and community peace of mind. Import
prohibitions against goods produced in ways that violate human rights (for example, by using forced
labor, or pushing indigenous people off their land) would also fail to pass the test of being applied to a
product, rather than a process. This will drastically curtail the means by which a nation can protect its
The first test should be whether the measure taken to protect the environment or animal welfare
deals evenhandedly with the nation's own producers and with foreign producers. If it does, then the
measure is acceptable, and any nation seeking to have it invalidated should be required to show that the
environmental or other objectives the measure purports to aim at could reasonably have been achieved
without restricting trade to the extent that the measure does restrict it.
Closing the door for “a possible flood of protectionist abuses” also means the inability to protect
from products which come from dumping toxic wastes into the ocean, cruelty to animals or denying
workers the right to unionize.
The undermining of GATT's Article XX
Notwithstanding the use that the WTO disputes panels have made of the product/process distinction,
one article of the GATT appears to give explicit blessing to import bans undertaken for various
purposes, including the protection of the environment. Article XX reads as follows:

General Exceptions
Subject to the requirement that such measures are not applied in a manner which would constitute
a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between countries where the same conditions
prevail, or a disguised restriction on international trade, nothing in this Agreement shall be
construed to prevent the adoption or enforcement by any contracting party of measures:
(a) necessary to protect public morals;
(b) necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health;...
(g) relating to the conservation of exhaustible natural resources if such measures are made
effective in conjunction with restrictions on domestic production or consumption

The most natural reading of this article would give a country several grounds on which it could prohibit
the importation of goods obtained in ways that threaten dolphins or cause great suffering to animals.
There are two possible justifications for the product/process rue. The first is the claim that to
prohibit a product because of the way in which it is made is to attempt to exercise extraterritorial
jurisdiction. The second is that to depart from the product/process rule may make it more difficult to
distinguish genuine measures for protecting the environment from disguised forms of protectionism.
The november 2001 summit saw signs of a willingness to reconsider the rules ensuring that free
trade trumps other values. The meeting allowed for the inclusion of, in the next round of trade talks,
discussions on “non-trade concerns” in agriculture. One of these concerns is maintaining the economy
of rural areas where the local economy depends on small farms that would not be able to withstand
competition from other countries where farming is on a much larger scale. It remains to be seen
whether values other than that of free trade will be given real weight.

The Second Charge: Interference with National Sovereignty
If the WTO does give precedence to commercial interests, is it reasonable to say that it does so only at
the behest of its member states, which have the final decision on whether or not to go along with the
WTO's rules? The standard response to criticism is that the WTO merely forms a framework of
legislation that sovereign nations enter willfully. Since the WTO is an expression of the decisions of
sovereign governments, it is not something that can interfere with national sovereignty.
This may be true in formal terms, but it leaves out some important practical details. Once a
government joins the WTO, it and its successors come under pressure to remain member. Industries
developed under free trade could collapse if one withdraws from the WTO. This is a form of
Friedman's “Golden Straitjacket” (chapter 1).
The diminished sovereignty might be a price worth paying for the benefits the WTO brings. Before
criticizing the WTO for national sovereignty whe should ask: is there any alternative means by which
nations and their citizens could gain those benefits?
People on the Left have traditionally been internationalists, but because the WTO puts free trade
above both environmental values and national sovereignty that the Left has formed an alliance with the
nationalist Right.

The Third Charge: The WTO is Undemocratic (p.75)
The WTO asserts in their 10 Common Misunderstandings: “Decisions in the WTO are generally made
by consensus. In principle, that's even more democratic than majority rule because everyone has to
agree.” However, rule by consensus mean rule by the veto – it takes the opposition of only a single
member to stop an overwhelming majority from making changes. The idea of giving everyone the right
of veto is more democratic is a fallacy which helps preserve the status quo. Another problem would be
that developing nations make up the majority of WTO members, but the 10 Common
Misunderstandings asserts: “It would be wrong to suggest that every country has the same bargaining
power”. In practice, the agenda is set by informal meetings of the major trading powers, i.e. the US, the
EU, Japan and Canada. Once these powers have reached agreement, the results are presented to the
formal meeting where they often already in effect. Some of the developing nations cannot even afford
to maintain an office in Geneva.
It is true that the WTO trade rules were negotiated by member-governments and ratified in
members' parliaments, but the interpretations of those rules adopted by the dispute resolution panels
and the Appellate Body have not been ratiefied by those parliaments. The governments had reason to
believe that Article XX guaranteed that the agreement into which they were entering would not prevent
them from acting in good faith to protect public morals; human, animal or plant life or health; or in
ways relating to the conservation of exhaustible natural resources. The Appellate Body interpreted
Article XX in a manner that no one could have predicted, virtually emptying it of substantive content.
Even if WTO decision were taken by a majority of the states that are members of the WTO, this
would still not be a democratic decision-procedure. It would give the democratically elected
government of India, representing a billion people, the same number of votes (one) as the
democratically elected government of Iceland (representing 275,000). There is no formal mechanism
for recognizing the difference in population size. In absence of this mechanism, the WTO cannot be a
truly democratic institution.

The Fourth Charge: Taking from the Poor to Give to the Rich (p.77)
Against the charge the WTO is a 'Robin Hood-in-reverse', GW Bush echoed the line taken by most
advocates of global free trade when he said in a speech at the world bank: “Those who protest free
trade are no friends of the poor. Those who protest free trade seek to deny them their best hope for
escaping poverty.”
Although critics agree that the WTO has done more to help global corporations than to help the
poor, the facts are not easy to sort out (eds: no counterfactual?), and on some aspects of this question,
leading opponents of the WTO do no speak with one voice. Criticism differs from “not creating a level
playing field to the poor nations” to “the loss of jobs to Canada and Mexico by the US through free
Another relevant question is whether free trade means cheaper goods, and whether this is good for
the poor. Liberalization of trade in India means that more food is exported, and as a result food prices
have doubled and the poor had had to cut their consumption in half. On top of that, cheap subsidized
imports of soybeans are dumped on the Indian market, thus worsening the country's balance of
payments situation and closing small independent Indian farms due to bankruptcy. These claims
(doubled food prices, cheaper imported soybeans) however, seem conflicting. The critic, Vandana
Shiva, doesn't give an explanation.
In trying to asses the impact of recent trade reforms, it is useful to distinguish two questions:

- Has Inequality increased during the period of global economic liberalization
- Have the Poor become worse off?

About 1.2 Billion people live under the poverty line, of which 826 million lack adequate nutrition,
more than 850 million are illiterate and lack almost all acces to even the most basic sanitation. In rich
countries, >1% of children dies before the age of 5. In the poorest, >20% dies. 30,000 children die
every day from preventable causes.
It is a commonly acknowledged fact that the gap between the rich and poor nations has widened.
Even the WTO stated in 1999: “It is an empirical fact that the income gap between poor and rich
countries has increased in recent decades.” The gap between rich and poor nations grew, between 1820
and 1960, 1.66% annually. Between 1990 and 1997, the gap grew on average 3% per year. There are a
certain set of problems, however, comparing average wages.
Branko Milanovic put it on the basis of the research he has done this way: “It is impossible to aver
whether inequality is really increasing or whether we see just a temporary spike, or indeed whether the
change in the coefficients is statistically significant – bearing in mind numerous and serious data
On theoretical grounds, there is some reason to believe that open markets and free trade should
increase economic welfare as a whole. The theory finds support in an 'Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development' (OECD) study showing that when corporations go into foreign
countries, they generally pay more than the national average wage. But information about average
wages does not alleviate concerns about poverty, as long as inequality is increasing.
World Bank researchers found that globalization benefits the majority, but its burden falls on the
poorest 40%, for whom openness lead to a fall in economic growth. They conclude “at least in the short
run, globalization appears to increase poverty and inequality”.

Judgement (p.90)
Firstly, the WTO does place economic considerations ahead of environmental protection. Second, the
WTO does not formally impair sovereignty, but in practic they reduce the scope of national
sovereignty. Third, the WTO is undemocratic in theory and practice. The fourth charge, that it makes
the poor poorer and the rich richer, is not proven. Available evidence is insufficient to convict either
globalization or the WTO for that charge. This assessment is based on the actions of the WTO up to the
November 2001 Doha summit.

Can Do Better? (p.91)
Whether we accept or reject the claim that economic globalization is a good thing, we can still ask if
there are ways of making it work better, or at least less badly. If we assume that people in fact do act
fully rational and on the basis of perfect information, free trade within a single, well-governed nation
can be expected to create a state of affairs that is 'Pareto efficient', where no no one's welfare can be
improved without reducing the welfare of at least one other person. A corporation polluting a river
would have to pay for damages to people, and clean it up. Thus, the cost of keeping the environment
clean become part of the costs of production. Saving money by cutting corners does in fact not give any
long term economic advantage.
However, a national government could overlook environmental damages by corporations to gain an
advantage to countries that don't. Thus, without global environmental protection there is no reason to
expect free trade to be Pareto efficient.
The WTO has up to now been dominated by neoliberal economic thinking. With some signs that
the WTO is willing to rethink this approach, it is possible to imagina a reformed WTO in which the
overwhelming commitment to free trade is replaced by a commitment to more fundamental goals. It
could then become a tool for pursuing these objectives. There are even clauses in GATT that could
become the basis for affirmative action in trade, designed to help the least developed nations. Under the
present WTO regime, these clauses have not come into practice. Especially the EU and US have failed
to do even their fair share of reducing their own trade barriers in those areas that would do most good
for the less developed nations.

Trade, Legitimacy, and Democracy (p.96)
We tend to think of trade as something politically neutral. Governments generally keep the question of
whether they should trade with a country separate from the question of whether they approve of its
government. The US attacks China for its human rights abuse while at the same time it keeps
expanding its trade with China. But sometimes trade deals imply moral judgement, mostly when
transnational corporations make deals with undemocratic governments. Shell for instance pays 6 billion
dollar annually to sell Nigeria's oil, thereby judging that the mostly military dictatorships that have
ruled Nigeria have to right to sell Nigeria's natural resources. What gives a government the moral right
to sell the resources of the country over which it rules?
The same question can be asked about international borrowing principles. Corrupt dictators are
allowed to borrow money from foreign countries or international lending bodies, and if they happen to
be overthrown, the burden of paying off those loans is on the legitimate next government. If it refuses,
it can be excluded from international financial institutions and suffer adverse consequences. Effective
control of a territory is seen as being enough to be able to loan.
The concept of legitimacy most often seemingly held by the UN and other international
organisations reads as follows: “In such a conception, the international system regards ruling
apparatuses of self-sufficient sources of authority – or rather deems their authority to derive from their
characteristic ability to secure the acquiescence of their populaces, by whatever means […] a
government is recognized simply because its existence is a fact of life”.
There is an alternate, more ethical view. Thomas Jefferson wrote to the US Ambassador to France
in 1972: “It accords with our principles to acknowledge any government to be rightful which is formed
by the will of the people, substantially declared.” The claim that there is a fundamental human right to
take part in deciding who governs us provides one reason for denying the legitimacy of a government
that cannot show that it represents the will of the people. A fundamental human right proclaimed by the
'Universal Declaration of Human Rights', which is further confirmed by the legal force of the
'International Covenant on Civil Rights and Political Rights': “All people have the right of self-
determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their
economic, social and cultural development.”
Chapter 4: One Law
page 106-149

The Need for Intervention (p.106)
Support for an universal prohibition on genocide and crimes against humanity shows more clearly than
any other issue how our conception of the sovereign rights of states has changed over the past 50 years.
This chapter examines why that has happened, how it has been defended, and why it is justified.
The horrific mass killings of the twentieth century were not a new phenomenon, except insofar
modern technology and communications enabled the killers to murder far more people in a relatively
brief period of time than had ever happened before. Burial pits containing people of all ages who have
met violent deaths go back at least 7,000 years. Women are generally spared, as killing rival males with
whom one does not share any genes and mating with their wives and daughters is one way in which
men can enhance their prospects of leaving their genes in subsequent generations. Even Chimpanzees
form raiding parties, killing vulnerable males from other groups, as observed by Jane Goodall, keeping
two young daughters of an adult female alive for themselves.
Not all men are potential perpetrators of genocide, some are 'cooperators', forming mutually
beneficial bonds. Eliminating poverty, injustice and improving education may make genocide less
likely, we can however not rely on these policies alone to prevent it. 1920S Germany was one of the
most educated countries in the world. Developing mechanism to promote peace and reduce the risk of
war between nations is important, for the mentality of war breaks down inhibitions and makes men
more prone to kill noncombatants as well as the enemy's armed forces. The last line of defense should
be law enforcement, instilling fear into perpetrators of genocide for repercusions. The method of last
resort will be military intervention.

The Development of International Criminal Law (p.112)
The charter of the International Military Tribunal set up by the Allies to try the leading Nazi war
criminals at Nuremberg gave it jurisdiction over three kinds of crimes: crimes against peace, war
crimes, and crimes against humanity. Allies declared it a 'crime against peace' to initiate a war of
aggression; a 'war crime' to murder, ill-treat, or deport either civillians or POWs; and a 'crime against
humanity' to murder, exterminate, enslave, or deport any civillian population, or to persecute them on
political, racial, or religious grounds. These acts transcend sovereign state laws.
Subsequently, the United Nations General Assembly asked the International Law Commission to
formulate principles of international law relating to crimes such as those dealt with by the Nuremberg
Tribunal and the Commission recommended that there should be international criminal responsibility
for crimes against humanity committed at the instigation or with the toleration of state authorities. The
1984 'convention against torture' was signed by 110 countries. However, there where problems with the
international jurisdiction: who could give who a trial? Did Israel's execution of Eichmann deny gypsies
and Poles justice? To answer this, in January 2001 scholars agreed on what would be named the
'Princeton Principles on Universal Jurisdiction', which could establish a truly global jurisdiction for the
crimes they cover.
To make the prosecution of crimes against humanity a permanent feature of international law,
respresentatives of 160 states met in Rome in 1998 and agreed to set up an International Criminal Court
in The Hague (eds: yay!). It came into existence in 2002, thus the world has for the first time a
permanent international body enforcing international criminal law. The US however, saw to exempt its
soldiers and officials from prosecution. Clinton signed on, but didn't ratify the treaty. Bush said he is
opposed to the court. After 9/11 though, the US set up military tribunals for the trial of suspected
terrorist who are not US citizens. As with the intellectual property rights, the US uses a double
standard, treating foreigners differently from their own citizens.

Criteria for Humanitarian Intervention (p.120)
Punishing the criminals after an atrocity has occurred is something that most people would support
because of their belief that this is what justice requires. From a Utilitarian perspective, punishing those
guilty of past crimes will put others who might do the same off in fear of repercusions. Fear of
punishment isn't always sufficient. Intervention could be a way to prevent a crime, or stop one from
going on. Under what circumstances should countries act on their responsibility to protect?
UN-Secretary General Kofi Annan suggested that intervention is justified “when death and
suffering are being inflicted on large numbers of people, and when the state nominally in charge is
unable or unwilling to stop it.” He defends this by saying the aim of the UN Charter is “to protect
individual human beings, not to protect those who abuse them.” Singer's ultimate conclusion is as

Humanitarian intervention is justified when it is a response (with reasonable expectations of
succes) to acts that kill or inflict serious bodily harm on large numbers of people, or deliberately
inflict on them conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction, and when the
state nominally in charge is unable or unwilling to stop it.

Though, how many people is a 'large number'? How serious does the bodily or mental harm have to be?
Who will decide when conditions of life that bring about the physical destruction of large numbers of
people have been deliberately inflicted upon them? A Canadian report cut down the criteria for military
intervention to just two:
A. Large loss of life, actual or apprehended, with genocidal intent or not, which is the product either
of deliberate state action, or state neglect or inability to act, or a failed state situation; or,
B. Large-scale “ethnic cleansing”, actual or apprehended, whether carried out by killing, forced
expulsion, acts of terror or rape.

The Authority of the United Nations (p.127)
The UN charter places two sets of obligations on its members, to respect human rights and not to
interfere in the internal matters of another state. They are pledged to observe and promote, but bound
not to impose, wholesale internal practices. So does humanitarian intervention violate this charter? We
could reconcile the charter with humanitarian intervention if we could defend at least one of the
following claims:

1.The violation of human rights is itself a threat to international peace.
Human tragedies in Iraq, Somalia and Haiti have been solved with humanitarian intervention.
Effectively the Security Council has an unconstrained mandate to interfere wherever it sees fit. There is
no basis in international law for attributing such powers to the Security Council. For instance, the
overthrowing of the democratically elected president Aristide of Haiti was seen as a threat to
international peace, but was more a moral judgement in stead of using hard facts, as the turmoil in Haiti
wouldn't have affected international peace.

2.Democracies are the best guardians of peace
A second strategy would be to invoke the argument that no war has ever occurred between two
democratic states. This is controversial, as it depends on the definitions of both “war” and
“democracy”. Even if there hasn't been an example, there will inevitably be one in the future. However,
it is true that war between democracies is less likely.
3.The rights of domestic jurisdiction retained by the states in Article 2(7) do no extend to committing
crimes against humanity, nor to allowing them to be committed within one's domestic jurisdiction.
This third strategy draws on the body of international law that holds that there is universal jurisdiction
over those who commit genocide or other crimes against humanity. However, Russia, China and more
or less so the US don't recognize any limitations to their sovereignty.

Singer proposes a fourth strategy, which builds on the discussion in the previous chapter questioning
the standard view of what it takes for a government to be legitimate, the democratic view proposes that
a government has to have popular support in order for it to be legit. If it would repress it's citizens, it
wouldn't gain support, wouldn't be seen as legitimate, and wouldn't get a seat at the UN. If it would use
violence against its own people, there would be no constraints holding intervention back. This could
increase the instances of war, but this risk must be weighed against the prospect of supporting
democracy and reducing the number of governments that are little more than gangs of brigands
pillaging a country. Consequentialist arguments would still apply, war causes immense suffering and
loss of life, and should always be used as a last resort.

Will the Spread of Democracy Provide Protection Against Genocide? (p.135)
In the first part of this chapter, Singer argued there might be a genetic basis for the willingness of
people to commit genocide. Later he suggested that where a regime rules by force there is no legitimate
sovereign to stand in the way of an intervention that can reasonably be expected to have good
consequences. But how can we have faith in democracy as a means of preventing, rather than
promoting, genocide? If violence is genetic, why can't it be in democracy?
Rwanda was moving towards a multi-party democracy prior to the massacre, and since 85% of the
populace was Hutu, it is possible that more democracy would not have stopped the murdering of Tutsis.
Milosevic was twice elected by large majorities, in Serbia and Yugoslavia. Democracy does not provide
a guarantee agains human rights violations, but a democratic process requires that the policies of the
government must be publicly defended and justified, and cannot simmply be implemented from above.
Even if many of us have the capacity to commit terrible crimes, many of us have a moral sense to
detect wrongdoings. Even the Nazi's weren't open about what they were doing to the jews to the
german citizens. Open procedures and public scrutiny may not be perfect against genocide, but they do

Does Intervention Do More Good Than Harm? (p.137)
The democratic concept of legitimite government policies implies that the concept of national
sovereignty carries no weight if the government rests on force alone, justifying intervention in such
countries. But if justification is so easy, will it not be used so often that it will be abused? This
objection rests on a failure to distinguish between legal and ethical justification, Singer quotes: “It
makes no moral sense to rescue a village and start WW3, or a destroy a village in order to save it” . We
need rules and procedures making intervention difficult to justify, because some nations are capable of
deceiving themselves into believing that their desire to expand their influence in the world is really an
altruistic concern to defend democracy and human rights (eds: GW Bush anyone?).
Some say tyranny isnt the worst enemy, but anarchy. In some cases the collapse of the nations-state
has led to a situation in which power is wielded by armed criminals. Intervention can lead to the same
outcome, because it too destroys the nation-state (eds: Syria?). There is an important ethical point at
issue here: if it was justifiable to intervene against Serbia in Kosovo, then it must also be justifiable to
intervene in Chechnya or Tibet. However, there might be a legal basis and even a just cause, but the
human costs of the resulting war made it unjustifiable to intervene. This isn't 'double standards', but
only one: the right to do what will have the best consequences. The costs would be way higher than the
Avoiding Cultural Imperialism (p.139)
It is sometimes said that to intervene in other countries to protect human rights is a form of cultural
imperialism. Are we not repeating the errors of Western missionaries sent out to Africa, and told the
'primitive' people to cover their nakedness, practice monogamy, etc? Have we not learned that morality
is relative to one's own society, and our morals are no better than theirs? Moral relativists imagine they
are defending the rights of peoples of non-Western cultures to preserve their own values, but it
undermines all ethical arguments against cultural imperialism. If morality is always relative to the
individual society, there is no way of expressing a transcultural or objective moral judgment about
anything, including respect for other peoples cultures. If us Westerners like to suppress other peoples
cultures, than that is part of 'our' culture, and the relativist can offer no reason why we should not
simply go on with it. (eds: hehe)
A much better case against cultural imperialism can be made from the standpoint of a view of
ethics that allows for the possibility of moral argument beyond the boundaries of one's own culture.
Then we can argue that distinctive cultures embody ways of living that have been developed over
countless generations, that when they are destroyed the accumulated wisdom is lost, and that we are all
enriched by being able to observe and appreciate a diversity of cultures. Western culture has no
monopoly on wisdom, has often learned from other cultures and still has much to learn. We can argue
we should do more to preserve those cultures. However, cultures should not lack the element of
consideration of others that is required of any justifiable ethic (for instance, female genetic mutilation
should not be accepted as a cultural trait, but banned).
The 'Golden Rule', treat others as you would like them to treat you is based on reciprocity, which
elevates the idea into a distinct principle not necessarily related to how someone actually has treated
you in the past. This golden rule can be found in many cultures and civilizations, philosophical and
religious teachings, including those of Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed and Kant. Over the past
decade, there has been an attempt to draw up a “Declaration of a Global Ethic”, a statement of
principles that are universally accepted across all cultures. One version begins with the fundamental
demand that “every human being must be treated humanely” and refers to the Golden Rule as “the
irrevocable, unconditional norm for all areas of life”.
These universally accepted ethical standards will not be the kind of thing that political leaders can
draw on to show that they are justified in intervening in the affairs of another state. If a religious
population of a nation supports a monarch ruling in accordance with the laws of the dominant religion,
and the citizens support the golden rule because the religion does, but are opposed to the idea of
democracy. What grounds do we have to tell them to become a democracy?
If said regime is not engaging in genocide or other crimes against humanity, the question of
intervention doesn't even arise. Second, if the people prefer this form of government, the preference
ought to be testable, they should be able to vote not to have open elections for political office, which
could be seen as a sign of legitimacy to the non-democratic regime.
The ultimate question of the relationship between democracy and sovereignty has not been solved.

Reforming the United Nations (p.144)
The UN should authorize intervention to stop crimes against humanity, without doing greater harm than
it prevents. This suggests a duty to intervene in appropriate circumstances. There is a trend towards
democratic sovereignty, however, the UN itself isn't democratic. The Security Council is made up of
the victors of WW2 (US, UK, France, Russia, China) which have veto-rights for intervention (which is
why the UN didn't do anything about Vietnam). In order to make it more democratic, they should
introduce the qualified majority (2/3rd or 3/4th of the vote). The structure of the Security Council is a
constant reminder that the institutions of global governance are dominated by the wealthiest and most
powerful states. However, political realism requires allowing such superpowers a veto, because going
against the wishes of either the US, Russia or China, isn't a smart thing to do.
The General Assembly of United Nations, composed of 189 members, is more democratic, but can
only take action in more limited circumstances. But as in the WTO, India has the same number of votes
as Iceland. It is possible for a majority of 95 states representing 198.5 million people to outvote the 94
states representing 5.7 billion. There is an option to make it more democratic, which is direct
representation through elections. The EU has the same system, with a very limited jurisdiction (eds:
remember, book is written in 2002). The General Assembly could be transformed into a democratically
elected World Assembly.
Another option is to allocate delegates in proportion to their population. The UN would supervise
democratic electinos in every member nation to elect this delegation. A country that refuses UN
supervision would only get one delegate, irrespective of its population. This would provide experience
in democracy for citizens in non-democratic countries, and would retain the inclusive character of the

Summing Up: National Sovereignty and a Global Ethic (p.148)
A global ethic should not stop at national boundaries. National sovereignty has no intrinsic moral
weight. The weight it does have comes from an international principle requiring respect for national
sovereignty in promoting peaceful relationships between states. Respect for international law is vital,
but is evolving in the direction of a stronger global community. We have “the responsibility to protect”
in stead of the “right to intervene”. The limits of the state's ability and and willingness to protect its
people are also the limits of its sovereignty. Only the UN should have the responsibility to protect.
Otherwise, nations will meddle in conflicts and plunge the world into international conflict. If states
can accept the UN as the “protector of last resort” of people whose states are flagrantly failing to
protect them, the world will have taken a crucial step toward becoming a global ethical community
Chapter 5: One Community
page 150 – 195

Human Equality: Theory and Practice (p.150)
After 9/11, 1,3 billion $ was raised for the families of victims. However, the allocation of resources was
acknowledged by the Red Cross as going to people who did not need it. Even worse, even on that day,
~30.000 children died from preventable causes, ten times the amount of people killed during the
attacks. For most people, the circle of concern for others stops at the boundaries of their own nation.
They take it for granted that national boundaries carry moral weight. Can we reconsile this attitude with
the attitude that every human being is equal?

A Preference for Our Own (p.153)
There are many who think it is self-evident that we have special obligation to those nearer to us.
Reflecting on preference's for one's own kind should subert the belief that this kind of “self-evidence”
is a sufficient ground for accepting a view as right. What is self-evident to some is not at all to others.
Instead, we need another test of whether we have special obligations to those closer to us, such as our

Ethics and Impartiality (p.154)
How can we decide whether we have special obligations to “our own kinds”, and if so, who is “our
own kind” in te relevant sense? One way is to ask whether accepting the idea of having these special
duties can itself be justified from an impartial perspective.
No one has disputed the claim in respect that distance shouldn't matter in saving a life, be it 10
meter or 10.000 kilometer. However, the degree of certainty we can have that our assistance will get to
the right person may be affected by distance. What people have disputed though, is that our obligation
to help a stranger in another country is as great as the obligation to help one of our own neighbours.
Utilitarianism argues that in everyday life it will often be too difficult to work out the consequences
of every decision we make, and if we were to try to do so, we would risk getting it wrong because of
our personal involvement and the pressures of the situation. We should reflect on the nature of our
moral intuitions, and ask whether we have developed the right ones, the ones that will lead to the
greatest good, impartially considered.

Assessing Partial Preferences (p.160)
The first set of preferences, towards one's own children, may be rooted in our nature as social mammals
with offspring who are very dependent on their parents. Bonds between mother and child are found in
all human cultures. This does not mean that it can't be changed, nor does it mean that it should not be
changed. Initiatives to communaly bring up children have been proven unsuccesful. Any attempt to
eradicate favoritism between parents and children would have high costs and would require constant
supervision or coercion. The gains arising from diminished partiality for one's own children is highly
unlikely to outweigh loss (unhappiness). The care of loving parents is likely to be better than by
impartial guardians.
Visiting a sick friend in a hospital should be about visting a friend, who is sick and in a hospital, not
about a cold calculation between spending your time the most profitable way. This is the point of two-
level utilitarianism to explain why we should have an extra thought when we are thinking at the critical
level, but not at the level of everyday moral decision-making.

The Ethical Significance of the Nation-State (p.167)
Compatriots as Extended Kin (p.167)
What impartial reasons can there be for favoring one's compatriots over foreigners? On some views of
nationality, being a member of the same nation is like an extended version of being kin. German laws
(pre-2000) recognized Germans who hadn't been living in Germany for generations with the right to
'return', whereas foreign guest workers could live in Germany for decades without eligibility to become
citizen, as were their children, born in Germany.
If we reject the idea that we should give preference to members of one's own race it is difficult to
defend the intuition that we should favor our fellow citizens, in the sense in which citizenship is seen as
a kind of extended kinship, because all citizens are of the same ethnicity or race. The two are simply
too close.

A Community of Reciprocity (p.168)
What if we empty all racist elements from the idea of who our fellow citizens are? Post 9/11 reaction
was based on the sense that Americans will help each other in times of crisis. If we for instance deny
admission to refugees, it hardly seems fair to then turn around and discriminate against them when we
make decision about whom we will aid, on the grounds that they are not members of our community
and have no reciprocal relationships with us.

The Imagined Community (p.170)
If reciprocity is not enough to show why we have a significantly stronger obligation to our fellow
citizens than to anyone else, one might try to supplement this idea by recourse to the account of a
nation as an “imagined political community”, one that lives only in the minds of those who see
themselves as citizens of the same nation. This makes up for a lack of a real, face-to-face community in
which there would be personal ties between citizens. Acknowledging special obligations to other
members can be seen as part of what it takes to form and maintain this imagined community.
If this notion of a nation as an imagined community, it is also possible for us to imagina ourselves
as part of another community. Our problems are now too intertwined to be well resolved in a system
consisting of nation-states and near exclusive loyalty to their own nation-state rather than to the larger
global community.

The Efficiency of Nations (p.171)
Robert Goodin argues that it is better to have one state that is clearly responsible for protecting and
promoting the interests of every individual within its territory. However, efficiency in administration
within units is one thing, and the distribution of resources between units is one thing. Therefore,
Goodin proposes reallocation of resources.

Justice Within States and Between States (p.172)
Christopher Wellman has suggested three further impartial reasons for thinking that it may be
particularly important to prevent economic inequality from becoming too great within a society, rather
than between societies. The first is that political equality within a society may be adversely affected by
economic inequality within a society, but not adversely affected by economic inequality between
societies. The second is that inequality is not something that is bad in itself, but rather something that is
bad in so far as it leads to oppressive relationships, and hence we are right to be more concerned about
inequality among people living in the same nation than we are about inequality between people living
in different countries who are not in a meaningful relationship with each other. The third is a point
about the comparative nature of wealth and poverty; a Mississippi man wouldn't compare himself with
a New Yorker. However, a Mexican looks at the US and sees an opportunity to improve his conditions.
In the present situation we have duties to foreigners that override duties to our fellow citizens. Even
if inequality is often relative, the state of absolute poverty is a state that is not relative to someone else's
wealth. Reducing the number of humans living in this state is a more urgent priority than reducing the
relative poverty caused by some people living in palaces while others live in cottages.

Rawls and 'The Law of Peoples' (p.176)
The most influential work on justice written in 20 th century US, Rawls A Theory of Justice, does not
address the issue of justice between societies. With The Law of Peoples, Rawls at last addressed
himself to the issue. He believes well-off societies have significant obligation toward struggling
societies, but there is a lack of focus on obligations toward individuals who are currently destitute in
other countries. His positions in his two books can't be reconciled. In the earlier work the deliberating
parties in the 'original position' weigh up alternative principles of justice, such as classical utilitarianism
and moral perfectionism, and choose between them. In The Law of Peoples, the deliberating parties
(whose task now is to decide on a framework for international relationships) do not even consider
classical utilitarianism as a possible principle by which they might regulate the way in which peoples
behave toward each other. This is because, Rawls states:

“A classical, or average, utilitarian principle would not be accepted by peoples, since no people
organized by its government is prepared to count, as a first principle, the benefits for another
people as outweighing the hardships imposed on itself.”

This claim is true at the level of sociological description of peoples organized as governments in
existing societies (eds: democracy government = chosen by a population, therefore the government
needs to work for said population in order to stay in power). But Rawls rules out the possibility of
people accepting this principle in the future, if they were choosing impartially. Another strange aspect
is Rawls's readiness to invoke, against the idea of economic redistribution between nations, arguments
that could easily be brought against economic redistribution between individuals or families within the
same nation.
He does urge that “well-ordered peoples have a duty to assist burdened societies, those that lack the
political and cultural traditions, the human capital and know-how, and, often, the material and
technological resources needed to be well-ordered.” This duty extends only to the requirement of
assistance to help the societies to become well-ordered, by which he means a society that is designed to
advance the good of its members and is effectively regulated by a public conception of justice.
Something Rawls sees as beneficial is “a change of culture”, because he sees no nations with resources
so scarce that it could not become well-ordered.
Rawls states he shares Beitz and Pogge's goals of “attaining liberal or decent institutions, securing
human rights and meeting basic needs” but “[those goals] are covered by the duty of assistance”.
Critics state “Rawls is more concerned with the legitimacy of global coercion than he is with the
arbitrariness of the fates of citizens of different countries”. Economic concerns for individuals play no
role in Rawls's laws for regulating international relations. He covers no options for the billion people
living in poverty.

The Reality (p.180)
Subjected to the test of impartial assessment, there are strong grounds for giving preference to the
interests of fellow citizens. Therefore, foreign aid is something that should concern citizens of the
developed world. The UN put up a target of .7% of the GDP. A handful nations do this (Denmark,
Sweden, Norway and The Netherlands (eds: represent motherfucker! :D)). Many nations fail to meet
this target; Japan gives .27% (13.5 billion $), the US .1% (10 billion $). The US uses foreign aid mainly
as a political means, the biggest receiver is Egypt (Russia and Israel get more, but isn't classified as
development assistance). Bosnia and Herzegovina get more than India. Only 25% of US aid goes to
low-income countries, 2.5 billion. US Defense has a (2003) budget of 379 billion $ which is almost 40x
as much.
These facts are consistent with the claim at the start of this chapter: despite the lip-service most
people pay to human equality, their circle of concern barely extends beyond the boundary of their
country. Surveys point out that US citizens are misinformed about their government spending, 60% of
the people thinking it is 10-20% of the GDP. These citizens would want to 'cut' foreign aid spending to
5% of the GDP. What people would really do if given the chance to vote is unknown, foreign aid has
never been a major policy issue in the US. America's failure to pull its weight in the fight against
poverty is therefore due not only to the ignorance of the American public, but also to the moral
deficiencies of its political leaders.

An Ethical Challenge (p.185)
If the developed world keeps neglecting foreign aid, what should the citizens of those rich countries
do? We are not powerless to act on our own. We can take practical steps to expand our concern across
national boundaries by supporting organizations working to aid those in need, wherever they may be.
But how much should we give?
Thomas Aquinas concluded: “whatever a man has in superabundance is owed, of natural right, to
the poor for their sustenance.” But how much is enough? Unger calculated that it takes 200$ to save a
child from diseases. What is keeping us from doing so? Is it the practical uncertainties about whether
aid will really reach the people who need it? Nobody can doubt that such uncertainties exist. But Unger
accounted for this in his calculation. Is there some 'follow-the-crowd' ethics in place (the kind of thics
that led many Germans to look away when the Nazi atrocities were being committed). We do not
excuse them because others were behaving no better.
Some critics say there is an empirical question to be answered: “How much will each additional
dollar of aid, given by me or my government, contribute to the long-term well-being of people in areas
receiving that aid?” We must look beyond saving life, to how the lives that are saved will be lived, to
see if we have some reason to believe that saving the child will do more than perpetuate the cycle of
poverty, misery, and high infant mortality.
A World Bank study finds that when a poor country with good management is given aid equivalent
to 1% of its GDP, poverty and infant mortality falls by 1%. A more recent World Bank study finds that
these numbers are improving. In 1990, $1 billion saved 105,000 people, by 1998 the same amount
saved 284,000 from poverty.
Government foreign aid has often not been aimed at reducing poverty. US, France and Japan direct
their aid not to those countries where it would be most effective in fostering growth and reducing
poverty, but to countries where aid will further their own strategic or cultural interests. The US to its
friends in the Middle East (eds: until Arab Spring), Japan aids countries that vote in a specific way in
the UN, France pays former colonies. Nordic countries are the exception, they pay the poorest countries
that have reasonably good governments that will not misuse their resources.
We might, among ourselves, feel that we should forgo all 'superabundance' in order to help those
who are unable to provide for their bare subsistence, whereas in public we might decide to advocate
whatever level of giving we believe will yield the greatest amount of assistance, while not making
people feel that morality is so demanding that they will disregard it. The target of money being raised
needs to make sense to people.
One way of looking at how much we might suggest that people should give is to suppose that the
task of eliminating poverty in the world were fairly distributed among all of the 900 million people in
high-income countries. How much would each of them have to give? The World Bank estimates a total
of $40 to $60 billion per year to achieve the development goals set at the UN Millennium Summit
(poverty and hunger halved by 2015). This amounts to an annual fee of ~100$ per adult. For someone
earning $27,500 (average earning), this is less than .4%. Not everyone in a rich country makes that sum
though. We could therefore advocate that, after meeting their basic needs, people need to contribute a
minimum of .4% of their income to organisations working for the poorest.
However, .4% is not a memorable amount. 1% is, and could very well be the amount needed to
eliminate poverty rather than halving it. Those who do not meet this standard should be seen as failing
to meet their fair share of a global responsibility, and therefore as doing something that is seriously
morally wrong. This is the minimum, not the optimal, donation. Those who think carefully about their
ethical obligations will realize that (since not everyone will contribute their part) they should do far
The $5 billion increase in foreign aid over three years promised by GW Bush is seen by some as a
“token gesture instead of something that could succesfully impact most of the poor countries.” By
contrast, all it would take to put the world on track to eliminate global poverty much faster than the
Millennium Summit targets would be the modest sum of 1% of annual income – if anyone who could
afford it were to give it. That tells us how far we still are from having an ethic that is based not on
national boundaries, but on the idea of one world.
Chapter 6: A Better World?
Page 196 – 201

In the fifth century BC, the Chinese philosopher Mozi asked and answered as question: “What is the
way of universal love and mutual benefit? It is to regard other people's countries as one's own.” Greek
Diogenes, when asked from what country he was from, said: “I am a citizen of the world.” John
Lennon sang “Imagine there's no countries, Imagine all the people, Sharing all the world” (eds: John
Lennon also hit his first wife).
Up until recently, these were the thoughts of idealists, but lately we have grown to be a global
community. Almost all nations have agreed on binding their greenhouse gas emissions. The WTO,
World Bank and IMF are global institutions that try to take on some functions of global economic
governance. An International Criminal Court is giving the world justice. Changing views on military
intervention for humanitarian purposes show we are in the process of developing a global community,
prepared to take on responsibilities to protect the citizens of states that can or will not protect them
from harm or death.The World's leaders have recognized that relieving the plight of the world's poorest
nations is a global responsibility, although their deeds are yet to match their words.
When different nations led more separate lives, it was more understandable for citizens to think
they owed no obligation to help foreigners. The Treaty of Westphalia (1648) was the hallmark of state
sovereignty, until nations started to fight again. Though we may look back with nostalgia, we should
not regret its passing. Instead we should be developing the ethical foundations of the coming era of a
single world community.
There is one great obstacle to further progress in this direction. Participation of the US in many
agreements (Greenhouse gasses, International court, foreign aid, etc) is holding us back. It will
probably be shamed into joining in. If it does not, it risks falling into a situation in which it is
universally seen by everyone (except Americans) as the world's “rogue superpower”. If the US wants
support from other nations in, for instance, its war on terror, it cannot afford to be seen that way.
As more and more issues increasingly demand global solutions, the extent to which any state can
independently determine its future diminishes. Institutions for global decision-making therefore need to
be strengthened. This leeds to a direction of a directly elected global legislature, along the lines of the
EU. There is however little support for such ideas at present. At worst, it would become a global
tyranny, unchecked and unchallengeable. How to prevent global bodies becoming either dangerous
tyrannies or self-aggrandizing bureaucracies is a serious question. The EU has the principle of
subsidiarity (decisions should always be made at the lowest level capable of dealing with the problem),
which is still being tested but if proven effective it could work for the global community.
To rush into world federalism would be too risky, but we could accept the diminishing significance
of national boundaries and take a pragmatic, step by step approach to greater global governance. There
is a good case for global environmental and labor standards.
The 21st century faces the task of developing a suitable form of government for a single world. It is
a daunting moral and intellectual challenge, but one we cannot refuse to take up. The future of the
world depends on how well we meet it.