Saturday, November 22, 2008

What Should Obama's Global Ethical Priorities Be?

Ethicist Peter Singer outlines some of the moral challenges on a global scale facing the new Obama administration:

1) Restoring the U.S.'s image internationally by following through on the promise to close Guantanamo prison and pulling troops out of Iraq.

2) Helping to usher in reform at the United Nations by making it more democratic--meaning that something needs to be done by reducing the power of the five permanent members of the Security Council: the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia, and China.

3) Increasing the amount of foreign aid the United States provides to the world (currently about $25 billion/year, but still far less, as a percentage of overall GDP, than most industrialized nations)

4) Reducing carbon emissions and finding a way to become part of the discussion on enforcing the Kyoto treaty for the reduction of greenhouse gases.

What other global issues need to be addressed?

I would add a couple of considerations:

a) joining the Rome Statute and becoming part of the International Criminal Court system. The U.S. has failed to join because of worry that the Court might be used by other nations to engage in politically motivated prosecutions of U.S. leader and military personnel. We should move fast to become part of this growing system of global law with a policy of "constructive engagement" so that the U.S. regains its footing as a prime mover of global law and ethical norms. As it is now, our legal ideas are becoming less and less relevant to the world.

b) examining our commitment to trade agreements, such as NAFTA, and other bilateral agreements that we have with numerous Latin American nations and ensure that we are engaging in fair trade. NAFTA has undoubtedly affected immigration to the U.S., and that has raised issues of human rights along the border and the treatment of immigrants within the country (now that we have a vastly expanded immigration enforcement bureau under Homeland Security)

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At 7:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

c) Examination of and possible action concerning US companies which may be exploiting cheap foreign labour as a cost-cutting means. The objective of this would be to rectify the negative impact this has on the domestic economy as well as human rights abuses by the company or that nation's government.
Desired humanitarian outcome would be to reduce trade with human rights abusers and enforce US-equivalent humane treatment within all US-based companies; desired economic outcome would be to close the labour-cost gap and encourage domestic jobs in all sectors.

What do you think, Magister?


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