Globalisation is a buzzword of our times. States in all corners of the world are increasingly entwined in mutual interdependence. Since the fall of communism, a wider consensus on economic principles has been achieved worldwide; the global market has become a fact of life. But can we also speak of global ethics?
Cooperation runs more smoothly and conflicts are contained when people share certain basic convictions. So it is important for us to seek to define a core of ethical principles that make up a common denominator throughout the world. The World Commission on Culture and Development holds that there are a number of motifs that recur in virtually all traditions, such as the avoidance of unnecessary suffering and the principle of equality for all. The Commission also maintains that individual human rights are not merely a product of western individualistic ethics, but that these rights demonstrably form part of the ethics of all the major religions and philosophies of life.
The Commission posits that economic development can prosper under an authoritarian regime in its initial stages. But once a certain stage of economic development has been reached, the clamour for participation in the political process becomes so loud that it can no longer be ignored. In other words, the level of democracy is a derivative of economic development.
Protection of minorities
The Commission states that cultural diversity should be fostered. But past experience has taught us that politics sometimes exploits culture to sow dissent.
Commitment to peaceful conflict-resolution and fair negotiation
The Commission holds that virtually all cultures include traditions geared towards preventing outbreaks of conflict and bloodshed. It is the responsibility of us all to cultivate this potential for peacemaking and to acknowledge its value.
Responsibility for future generations
The Commission suggests that where our responsibility for the future of the natural environment is concerned, modern civilisation may have something to learn from traditional cultures, which frequently view individuals and generations as links in long chains of ancestors and descendants.