Call For A New Global Ethic
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- A new global economic manifesto has been proposed -- and it should be embraced.
At a recent United Nations meeting, Swiss-German theologian Hans Küng, president of the Global Ethic Foundation; former President of Ireland and former UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson; professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University; and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu, Anglican Archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, all signed the Global Economic Ethic: Consequences for Global Businesses manifesto, calling for a common fundamental vision of what is legitimate, just and fair in economic activities. See manifesto.
The manifesto lays out five principles and values--the principle of humanity; non-violence and respect for life; justice and solidarity; honesty and tolerance; and mutual esteem and partnership -- to create stronger common moral ground among all actors in the globalized marketplace. It is open for signatures from individuals around the world.
"The call for an ethical framework for the global financial markets and global economics has loudly been heard from many sides worldwide since the beginning of the current crisis," said Küng in announcing the manifesto. "This new Declaration on a Global Economic Ethic reminds all stakeholders in global businesses of their individual responsibilities for humanizing the functioning of the global economy: globalization needs a Global Ethic."
As the wicked web of international economic connections is being proved out by the financial crisis, a new global ethic is an idea whose time has come.
A universal set of economic rules by which to play is needed. Otherwise no matter the result of the recent economic downturn, the general business ethos -- that based on capitalistic greed -- will not change.
"No company acts only as an abstract legal institution, but always through the many different people working at different levels of the hierarchy," said Klaus Leisinger, chief executive of the Novartis Foundation. "This is the reason why social systems such as companies per se can only be moral or immoral to a limited extent: morality -- or lack of morality -- is introduced to a social system by the people, their values and level of integrity."
As Michael Moore points out in his documentary, "Capitalism: A Love Story," some people, however, are more responsible for introducing bad values than others. And democracy itself is corrupted when favorability reigns.
To be sure, capitalism is here to stay as developing nations grow wealthier and satisfy their desires to be global players in the economic marketplace (read Chindia). But it's not a bad idea to ascribe a sense of responsibility along with wealth accumulation.
As President Obama weighs executive pay cuts and France's President Nicolas Sarkozy seeks to limit bonuses to traders, a clear and universal sense of what is right and what is wrong need to be defined. Otherwise high earners will flee along with unscrupulous companies to friendlier geographies.
No one will stand to gain by that.
"The Manifesto aims for a multi-stakeholder dialogue and therefore addresses all economic interest groups -- owners, investors, creditors, management employees, unions, consumers, and NGOs, to name just a few," said Josef Wieland of the Konstanz Institute for Values Management and Intercultural Communication. "The difficult challenges of globalization are a shared dilemma of all stakeholders." http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-time-has-come-for-a-new-global-ethic-2009-10-23?siteid=rss&rss=1