From Local to Global Justice
To rethink the concept of justice, we must adapt old moral categories to a broad, plural, complex and more prosperous world. We must focus on the inalienable rights and the binding duties not only between individuals but also between States.
Rethinking the concept of justice in four main topics
One of the greatest moments in human history was the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But some have pointed out the limitations of a mere formal outlining of rights that are not adequately enforced.
The transition from a formal to a substantial equality involved setting forth a list of duties and responsibilities to enforce human rights such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s call for action, which explicitly acknowledges the importance of taking responsibility for the world we live in.
Addressing global justice means acknowledging that along with rights there are also duties, and when we speak of universal values and global justice, we must address these questions:
How can we properly balance the defence of pluralism while upholding universal values? What role should individual and collective bodies play, when it comes to safeguarding fundamental rights? What is the actual role of international organizations in keeping peace and justice?
Climate justice is genuinely one of the most cross-cutting matters on the global agenda as it will eventually affect every one of us.
There is an ongoing tension between long-term goals of global environmental balance and sustainability and short-term interests of individual agents and entities, related to fields such as technology and economy.
Without losing sight of human development needs, if we aim to allocate responsibilities and raise the question regarding fair distribution of costs, we must first acknowledge the environmental overburden imposed by developed countries unto developing and less developed nations.
We must ask who should be held accountable for more significant financial initiatives aimed at avoiding environmental catastrophes and the devastating outcomes of climate change, and whether it is an ethical duty for the wealthier nations to take the lead.
When addressing global justice, one of the main challenges lies in global economic inequality, particularly world poverty and the unequal distribution of wealth, which is directly related to all sorts of inequalities, from job opportunities to health outcomes.
Some contemporary thinkers argue that severe worldwide poverty could have been eradicated decades ago if affluent societies chose to do so. This negligence has already been called the “largest crime against humanity ever committed” and given its negative impact on human rights enjoyment and development performance, it begs us to question the very governmental models we abide by and the structural changes required for the problem to be eliminated.
How can different nations play a part in solving the problem? Could the creation of basic income guarantee programs balance such inequalities or would they, on the contrary, increase them? Are Western countries profiting from extreme poverty in other parts of the world?
Through the last century, technology has done much to improve the lives of people in the Global North. Generalized access to essential resources such as sanitation, clean water, efficient energy sources or medical care have not only raised life’s expectancy, they have also enabled a dignified life where it did not exist before.
However, access to technology and a better life is still unequal on a global scale. Uneven access to technology and development is one of the features that separates the Global South from the Global North.
Technological justice reflects the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, namely when it comes to ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, and to promote sustainable industrialization worldwide.
But we will also need to discuss how technology can serve equality and labor dignity instead of enhancing disparities and alienation, while at the same time being aware of advances in artificial intelligence that are bound to deprive people of a fundamental dimension of their lives, as well as the potential monopolies that might arise with a new elite detaining a large part of technological resources.