Ethics and International Relations Towards more ethical global relations?
Structure 1. What is ethics? 2. What is international relations? 3. How are the two related?
What is ethics? Ethics has to do with questions of right and wrong Duties or obligations Rules or laws
What is ethics? Ethical questions are normative questions. What ought to be done? Those who ask this question look at the world from ‘The moral point of view.’
Why be moral? Why act ethically? Why look at the world from the moral point of view?
The Rejection of Ethics The doctrine of ‘nihilism.’ The doctrine known as ‘Realism’ in IR theory e.g. E.H. Carr in his work on the Twenty Year Crisis – international morality is the morality of the Great Powers
What is realist about realism? Avoids the ‘hopeless utopianism’ of idealism Based on empirical analysis of the human condition and the way the world works Some aspects of behaviour are universal and eternal.
Theories of Ethics Why are certain actions right or wrong? How do I decide what ought to be done?
Theories of Ethics Two main theories Ethical Deontologism Ethical Consequentialism
Ethical Deontologism Usually associated with Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) But can also be found in Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) The Laws of War and Peace (1625) And in Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics (384-322BCE)
Deontological thinking Some actions intrinsically wrong. E.g. murder The proposition ‘murder is wrong’ is a logically necessary truth, like ‘2+2=4.’’ To concede that an action ‘X’ is an act of murder, whilst arguing that it is nonetheless one which ought to be performed (that it is ‘right’ or ‘ethically permissible’ to perform it) is to contradict oneself. Such actions ought never to be committed, no matter what the circumstances.
Deontological thinking Why are these actions wrong/unjust? The principle of reciprocity Kant’s ‘categorical imperative.’ ‘Always act such that one can at the same time will the maxim of your action to be a universal law.’ e.g. murder or theft could not be made a universal law
Deontological thinking in traditional humanitarian principles Needs-based humanitarianism Relief of suffering
ICRC- 7 principles of humanitarian action • humanity • impartiality • neutrality • independence • voluntary service • unity • universality ICRC’s principles are based on deontological ethics
ICRC principle of Humanity • Deontological ethics • i.e. human as human being outside belief system • being concerned to alleviate suffering of any human irrespective of their race, ethnicity, social class, religion, politics or other beliefs • ‘not affected by any political or military consideration’ - Pictet, 1958, p. 96 • non-judgmental, not subjective i.e. not deserving v undeserving • to relieve suffering not to reform (society or individual)
Ethical Consequentialism There are no actions which are absolutely right or wrong. Everything depends on the circumstances, especially the consequences of performing one action rather than another. How much ‘good’ does the action bring into the world? ‘The priority of the good over the right.’
Utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) The ‘principle of utility.’ ‘Always act so as to promote the greatest happiness of the greatest number.’ ‘Happiness’ = ‘pleasure’ and not ‘pain.’
Is Utilitarianism a moral doctrine? Ethical deontologists like Kant would say that it is not, as it could be used to justify actions which in their view are intrinsically wrong and ought never to be performed. But not everybody is an ethical deontologist. Utilitarianism is generally accepted as being one of the major ethical traditions in the history of Western philosophy.
Ends and means in ethics Does the end justify the means? Some have said ‘yes’ to this question. E.g. Niccolo Macchiavelli (1469-1527) The Prince (1513)
Consequentialist Thinking in New Humanitarianism Rights-based humanitarianism
Traditional v New Humanitarian principles Deontological v consequentialist Needs-based v rights-based Neutralists v solidarists
Consequentialist Thinking in Humanitarianism’s expanded remit ‘no longer reserved for the provision of independent and impartial relief to victims of conflict… it now includes the attempt to advance human rights, increase access to medicines, further development, promote democracy and (to) build responsible states’ Slim, 1997, p. 249
International Relations and International Ethics 1990s and end of the Cold War Potential for - more cosmopolitan global political community - new role for international organisations, international law & human rights - pro-active UN Security Council & UN bodies e.g Boutros Boutros Ghali’s Agenda for Peace, 1993
International ethics and international law International arena as Hobbesian ‘state of nature’ i.e. condition of war? NOT for Continental School of Natural Law - Samuel Pufendorf (1632-94) The Laws of Nature and of Nations (1672) - Christian Wolff (1679-1754), Natural Law and the Law of Nations (1740-1749) - Emerich de Vattel (1714-1767), The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law Applied to the Conduct and to the Affairs of Nations and of Sovereigns (1758). - Kant, Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795).
International ethics and international law The international arena is not as Hobbes portrays a ‘state of nature.’ It is a condition of ‘peace’ regulated by law – a moral law. This is the ‘law of nature.’ It is also the ‘law of nations,’ i.e. ‘international law.’
Law of wars/IHL Jus ad bellum The justice/injustice of going to war Jus in bello Justice/injustice in warfare Jus post bellum Justice after war e.g. Saturation bombing during WWII & the dropping of the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima
Ethics and IR in the Global Era Cosmopolitan ethical ideals Two Dimensions Global Distributive Justice Global Rectificatory Justice
Global Distributive Justice Global poverty and wealth distribution: The net worth of the 358 richest people in the world was then [mid 1990s] found to be “equal to the combined income of the poorest 45 per cent of the world’s population – 2.3 billion people.” David Harvey, The Limits to Capital (2006), p. xi
Global Rectificatory Justice One law, which is natural law Natural rights, or human rights Ought to regulate the conduct of both states and individuals
Global Rectificatory Justice In a global political community, human rights abuses are the legitimate concern of everyone. In certain circumstances ‘intervention’ by one state, or a supra-national institution like the UN, in the affairs of another is justified, even though it infringes the ‘autonomy’ or ‘sovereignty’ of the state in question. E.g. Bosnia (1992-95) Rwanda (1994) Iraq (2003-) E.g. ICTY, ICTR, ICC
Kosovo War 1999 as humanitarian war improving humanitarian situation? preventing genocide? improving human rights? promoting peace and ethnic relations?
International ethics and humanitarian intervention • The Responsibility to Project: Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, 2001 • Changing international law on principle in UN Charter 1945 on non-interference in the internal affairs of states • humanitarian concerns paramount over national sovereignty • expansion of idea of universal jurisdiction
Controversies over international ethics today Evolving international criminal law & R2P expanding humanitarian military intervention Prohibitions on use of force v rights to use force ‘the concept of international right becomes meaningless if interpreted as a right to go to war. For this would make it a right to determine what is lawful not by means of universally valid external laws, but by one-sided maxims backed up by physical force’ Kant, Perpetual Peace.
E.H. Carr, Twenty Year Crisis on international morality theories of international morality = ‘product of dominant nations or groups of nations’ ‘unconscious reflections of national policy based on a particular interpretation of national interest at a particular time’ relation of norms and power?
Controversies over international ethics today ‘I certainly cannot imagine the West conceding that they too should be subject to these norms of humanitarian military intervention on human rights grounds’ David Rieff, Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis, p. 282.
Crisis of humanitarian ethics ‘The political nature of humanitarian aid, coupled with the new context of insecurity, militarisation, privatisation and the merging of developmental and security aims, has created dilemmas that will plague NGOs' humanitarian programming for years. How NGOs adapt themselves and make the decision whether to abandon or adapt humanitarian principles will be a crucial factor in the future positioning of NGOs within the emerging system of global governance.’ Barbara Brubacher, http://www.globalpolicy.corg/ngos/aid/2004/0928neutrality.htm