There are a lot of international conferences and worthy statements. Do they have any effect?
Have you been personally challenged by any of the statements you have so far read in this Unit?
How do you think ethical values can be applied to political and economic life? Do you have examples from your own experience?
In his A Global Ethic for Global Politics and Economics, Hans Küng strongly argues the case for a new sense of responsibility. You need, he says:
a responsible politics which seeks to achieve the precarious balance between ideals and realities which has to be rediscovered over and over again a responsible economics which can combine economic strategies with ethical convictions.
This certainly is the hope of those who produced the ‘Interfaith Declaration: a Code of Ethics on International Business for Christians, Muslims and Jews’ and the ‘Principles for Business’ of the Caux Round Table. Both statements agree that companies have responsibilities over and above earning profits. This is very important and maximising profit should not be the sole motive of economic activity It is suggested that shareholders should see themselves rather as stakeholders with a responsibility for all who have a stake in a business. Companies should recognise that they have a responsibility to their employees, to customers, to suppliers and financiers, to the community (local and national governments) and also to the owners, shareholders or investors. I would add a responsibility to the environment and some companies now have an environmental audit. Faith communities, which are close to the people, are in a good position to speak for the suppliers, as the low wages paid to many producers of raw material is a scandal.