International development ethics is ethical reflection on the ends and means of local, national and global development. It’s a relatively new but very rigorous discipline that asserts that:
- Value issues ought to be at the very heart of all development thinking. Values ought to be an important and regular element of the development discourse, and should guide how decisions are made regarding the allocation of scarce development resources, and how results of such expenditures are evaluated. Value issues aren’t peripheral, neither are they “soft” extras to reflect on after the technical and economic analyses have been done, and the important decisions made.
- The careful defense of basic normative assumptions, whether secular or religious, ought to be required in all development policy formulation and implementation, in order to justify local, national, or global development decision-making and accountability. Development ethics considerations appeal to social justice, human rights, basic needs, leadership qualities, gender equity, conflict and peacebuilding, and theological understandings of the human condition.
Despite the important adage to “do no harm”, almost every development decision harms someone’s interests. A moral and ethical obligation exists to understand the probable impacts of international development and foreign assistance decision making, and to take appropriate action to mitigate the harm and accentuate and equitably distribute the benefits.
International development assistance entails reciprocity and mutual respect by all involved, with a high degree of “ownership” of donor funded programs and projects by the beneficiaries.
Development Ethics Papers
- Motivating the Human Right to Food: Obligation, Care, or Character? (Article for the Journal of Ethics and Human Rights) (136kb)
- Leadership for East Africa: A Role for Transformational Virtue? (234kb)
- Business Leadership in Africa: A Personal Integrity Challenge (100kb)
- Coastal Concern: Virtue Ethics and Local Planning in Durban, South Africa (89kb)
- African “Big Men” and the Liberation of Africa’s Oppressed (200kb)
- Ethical Leadership in Post-Conflict Somalia: Humanity as a Governance Principle (120kb)
- Morality and Motivation: A Role for a Human Rights Approach In The World Bank’s Urban Strategy? (1mb)
- Professionalism in Africa: A Quaint and Outdated Notion, or an Essential Building Block of Development? (200kb)
- The Moral Challenge of Urbanization in Less Developed Countries (130kb)
- Balking at the Numbers, SAIS Review vol. XXIV No. 2 – Summer – Fall 2004 (500kb)
- Fighting Corruption in Developing Countries, Strategies and Analysis – Chapter 11, Sectoral Synthesis (1mb)
- The Relevance of Development Ethics for USAID – April 2005 (5mb)(Crocker & Schwenke)