Global Distributive Justice

“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.” – Aristotle

There are 196 countries in the world. 25 of them are very rich, defined as having an average wealth per person of over $100,000 a year. Unfortunately, far more countries are quite poor where the per capital wealth is under $1000 a year, or under three dollars a day.

Now, you might wonder why some countries are wealthier than others, and from where this significant difference emerges.

Some of the main reasons as to why countries are rich and others poor, highly depends on the quality of their institutions, and thus, the level of corruption, the culture they have, the access to natural resources or even colonialism.

We, who are living in the richest parts of the world, have been benefiting a lot throughout the years. We take advantage of what is offered to us, enjoy our lifestyle, and tend to neglect the rest of the world.

Statistics show that poor countries have been subsidising the wealth of rich countries. But shouldn’t it be the other way round?

The simple fact that the richest 1% of the world, have so much more than everybody else, is already shocking. Even though, we always seem to debate about inequality these days, very little action is actually undertaken towards improvement.

The way I see it, things are way worse than we could have ever expected them to be.

The link to the global distributive justice lies in here. It is essentially concerned with the rules and principles determining how societies allocate goods, services, and incomes.

I strongly support the idea that each individual’s interests and necessities should be met by a certain amount of commodities in such a way, that each one will have an equal standard of living with respect to the basic needs of life. In my opinion, there should be equality among societies. Just because one was born in a poor family should not be punished for it by receiving nothing in return.

We should support each other in difficult times and try to adjust the unfair distribution of wealth.

After having researched more into depth about the different theories on justice, it allowed me to adopt an even more secure position of what I believe our world ought to be.

Trapped between the two main approaches, I choose to defend the globalists, who believe differences between states should not exist, over the statists, who adopt different principles of justice between nations. For this, I support Pogge and Singer’s points of view, that we should think of our world as a whole, as one unit. And thus, apply the same principles globally without any restrictions.

Suppose, an international company practices distributive justice. For every extra hour of work, their employees get compensated. For instance, what happens when you have worked 20 extra hours this week and received €300, while your co-worker in New-York only worked 10 extra hours and received €350. Does the firm still exercise justice? Not only should there be social equality, but also employment equality.

To conclude, it is extremely important to consider the following when thinking about global distributive justice: ‘What should we distribute? Who should we distribute it to? Following what types of allocation?’

 

 

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Humanitarian Aid in Conflict Zones

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Personally, I love the idea of humanitarian aid. I see it as an opportunity to practice the virtues of compassion and generosity to help others, especially in times of war and conflict. We have seen aid workers doing some great jobs.

However, what most of us probably don’t realise is that on a much larger scale, foreign humanitarian aid has not improved the lives, nor the living conditions of the world’s poorest people.

What is worse is that the international aid community keeps making the same mistakes over and over again, and they keep getting away with it.

What I find incredibly appalling is that the image of third-world aid is portrayed in such a way that we, who are living in the richest parts of the world, have been benefiting from it throughout the years. Statistics show that for every dollar of aid rich countries give to poor countries, they receive between 7 to 10 dollars in return, either through profits, debt repayments or even trade.

In other words, are poor countries subsidising the wealth of rich countries?

During the research for our seminar, I learned a lot, but most of all that humanitarian organisations have been willing to work in areas which might be held by terrorist groups. No organisation is able to say that a 100% of their aid will get to the people to whom it is intended, because many of these organisations, including NGO’s or UN agencies, are highly dependent on funds from Western donor governments. I believe this makes the challenge even greater since the government’s priorities are not influenced by humanitarian concerts alone. Unfortunately, they are often deeply involved in the military and political aspects of the conflict itself.

In Somalia, for instance, many people are without humanitarian aid. In Afghanistan, many villages have been accused for receiving humanitarian aid. Why is that? Because aid is being considered as a weapon of war, and it is the people who are in need of that aid who are paying the severe consequences.

Furthermore, I find it unfair to accuse humanitarians for “fuelling war economies and prolonging conflict by providing assistance”. This can in fact create a lot of dependencies and weaken long term development prospects, but if it was not for the humanitarian organisations, then who would have gone to assist in these places? We should be grateful for their help.

I further agree on the fact that performing such kinds of services is very expensive, but if it also brings advantages to the population, then why stop?

All of this made me think, and I believe that aid workers have one of the most dangerous jobs, having to face huge challenges every single day of their life. For instance, “Which side should I take? Should I work on neutral territory or should I find myself rubbing shoulders with a single ally?” When one decides to go on the side of the State, the final principle of neutrality is, unfortunately, completely lost.

To conclude, is humanitarian aid in conflict zones the way to go? Is it ethically right or wrong? Is it a moral obligation to intervene, or only morally recommendable?

The answer is: “It depends”. Every single one of us will have a different response, which means that the real answer is within ourselves. In my opinion, it isn’t a moral obligation to intervene since nobody can force us to do something, but more so morally recommendable. It is indeed important to help everyone unconditionally. Everyone deserves to be loved and treated in the same way, while having equal human rights.