Common humanity is one ground of justice. The distinctively human life generates claims, and their form is that of natural rights. However, explorations of how the distinctively human life generates obligations lead only to a rather limited set of rights—basic security and subsistence rights. Inquiries into another nonrelational ground also produce rather limited results. That ground is humanity's collective ownership of the earth. The principle of justice associated with it merely requires an equal opportunity to use natural spaces and resources for the satisfaction of basic needs. In particular, this result is incompatible with any kind of welfarist commitment. The sheer fact that anybody's welfare as suchwould be lowered or raised is not a matter of justice. If people share associations with each other (membership in a state, or being connected by trade, say) we can derive obligations from their shared involvement with these associations. But unless people do indeed share such associations, the obligations that hold among them will be rather limited.
THOUSANDS have lived without love, not one without water,” so W. H. Auden finished his poem “First Things First.” And right he was. Only oxygen is needed more urgently than water at most times. But a key difference that makes water a more immediate subject for theorists of justice is that, for now, oxygen is normally amply available where humans live. Historically, the same was true of water since humans would not settle in places without clean water. Nowadays, however, water treatment plants and delivery infrastructure have vastly extended the regions where humans can live permanently. Population increases have prompted people to settle in locations where access to clean water is precarious.
Economic theory teaches us that it is in every country’s own best interest to engage in trade. Trade therefore is a voluntary activity among consenting parties. On this view, considerations of justice have little bearing on trade, and political philosophers concerned with matters of global justice should stay largely silent on trade. According to a very different view that has recently gained some prominence, international trade can only occur before the background of an existing international market reliance practice that is shaped by states. On this view, trade is a shared activity among states, and all participating states have in principle equal claims to the gains from trade. Trade then becomes a central topic for political philosophers concerned with global justice. The authors find fault with both of those views and argue instead for a third view about the role of a trade in a theory of global justice. That view gives pride of place to a (non- Marxian) notion of exploitation, which is developed here in some detail.
Siddharth Kara's Sex Trafficking has become a critical resource for its revelations into an unconscionable business, and its detailed analysis of the trade's immense economic benefits and human cost. This volume is Kara's second, explosive study of slavery, this time focusing on the deeply entrenched and wholly unjust system of bonded labor.
Drawing on eleven years of research in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, Kara delves into an ancient and ever-evolving mode of slavery that ensnares roughly six out of every ten slaves in the world and generates profits that exceeded $17.6 billion in 2011. In addition to providing a thorough economic, historical, and legal overview of bonded labor, Kara travels to the far reaches of South Asia, from cyclone-wracked southwestern Bangladesh to the Thar desert on the India-Pakistan border, to uncover the brutish realities of such industries as hand-woven-carpet making, tea and rice farming, construction, brick manufacture, and frozen-shrimp production. He describes the violent enslavement of millions of impoverished men, women, and children who toil in the production of numerous products at minimal cost to the global market. He also follows supply chains directly to Western consumers, vividly connecting regional bonded labor practices to the appetites of the world. Kara's pioneering analysis encompasses human trafficking, child labor, and global security, and he concludes with specific initiatives to eliminate the system of bonded labor from South Asia once and for all.
In May, two young women in rural India left their modest homes in the middle of the night to relieve themselves outside. Like millions in India, their homes had no bathrooms. The next morning, their bodies were found hanging from a mango tree. They had been attacked, gang-raped and strung up by their own scarves. Eighteen months after a gang-rape on a Delhi bus, this incident and others since have galvanized nationwide protests to end violence against women and highlighted caste-related discrimination. The tragic story also underscores the need to talk about another taboo topic: open defecation.
Siddharth Kara, Harvard University fellow and author of three books on modern-day slavery, talks about the profits and losses of slavery and what he has learned from 12 years of research into trafficking, across six continents.
Declining levels of political participation and public confidence in government in the US are not new, but the populist forces that propelled the election of Donald Trump in 2016 signaled a new level of public disillusionment with democratic politics as usual. There has been a sharp increase...
Frederik Obermaier is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and author living in Munich. He is working for - Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany's largest daily newspapers. The Carr Center sat down with Obermaier, a 2018 Neiman Fellow, to discuss his work on the Panama Papers.
Rights are not static things. They don’t stay the same from generation to generation but evolve and change depending on changing norms and circumstances. In a sense, they adapt to history. This is an unpopular notion. Most human rights advocates understandably fear that, if long-fought-for rights are not grounded in the bedrock of such things as natural law or inherent human dignity, they may be subject to disregard or even repeal. As we will argue, rights represent a description of the good society, a society that protects and advances its members’ “lives, liberties, and pursuit of...
Carr Center Senior Fellow Sherman Teichman and Co-Convener Professor Nikos Passas will convene the second semester of their study group, exploring the relationship between corruption and human rights. Download the study group brochure here.
The objective of this study group is to deepen and expand our understanding of the links between...