Ethics in Development

People smugglers help transport migrants across international borders without authorization, and in return for compensation. Many object to to this practice, viewing it as unethical, or even evil. The author offers defense of people smuggling, arguing that it that assists refugees in escaping threats to their rights, and can therefore be morally justified. He rebuts the objections that people smugglers exploit migrants, have defective motivations, and wrongly violate the law, concluding that people smuggling is sometimes a permissible way of helping refugees to evade unjust immigration restrictions and compelling states to bear their fair share of the global refugee population. 

2. The Ethics of International Service Learning as a Pedagogical Development Practice: a Canadian Study
Debra D. Chapman, Third World Quarterly, January 2016

International service learning, a form of service learning where students travel to developing countries to provide community services of varying types, has come to be common practice at universities throughout the Global North. This paper reports and discusses a case study focused on the ethical questions arising from current practice at one Canadian university. The study follows the path students take from their home university to their final placement. In the context of the political economy of North–South relations in a period of neoliberalism, the analysis considers the ethics of power differentials, reciprocity, accountability, student preparedness and qualifications in relation to host communities. The article concludes with a critique of post-secondary institutional involvement with and promotion of international service learning.

3. Applied Ethics and Allocation of Foreign Aid: Disparity in Pretensions and Practice
Jónína Einarsdóttir and Geir Gunnlaugsson, Development Policy Review, April 2016 

The authors explore the applied ethics of development aid and humanitarian assistance, and juxtapose these with claimed objectives and factors that influence the choice of recipients. Despite some diversity among donors, ethical considerations appear not to be a prominent factor for allocation of aid. Although recipients’ need is not entirely ignored, donors’ self-interest and herd behaviour, as well as recipients’ merits and voting in the United Nations, play crucial roles in allocation decisions. Likely to be shunned are complex emergencies and fragile states, the overlapping settings for action of development and humanitarian aid. The authors suggest that donors should take to heart and put into practice that allocation of aid is an ethical endeavour that should rest on proper needs assessment, established objectives and adopted agreements.

4. Building Ethical Global Health Care Systems
Abraar Karan, MD, AMA Journal of Ethics. Special issue on Ethics in Global Health  July 2016

The lack of a robust health care workforce is both a symptom and a propagator of health inequities. Disparities in global health care reveal the most blatant violations of the rights to live, succeed, and be happy—because to do any of those things, one needs to have access to health care.Two of the biggest questions confronting the global health community are these: Who should be leading the charge to build or rebuild health care systems in resource-poor countries? Given the diversity of populations and plurality of needs, what’s the “right” way—in terms of policy and infrastructure design, for example—for a system to meet unmet health needs? One major point of contention is top-down versus bottom-up models of developing health systems’ capacities to respond to health needs. Does successful health systems strengthening come from national policies and wide-reaching programs that are implemented through intergovernmental collaboration? Or does it depend on the input of the very people it is meant to help by addressing—organically and incrementally—smaller, communal problems through a patchwork of different but interconnected projects? 


5. IDEA (The International Development Ethics Association)
Founded in 1984, IDEA is an international, cross-cultural, and interdisciplinary group of philosophers, development and environmental theorists, and practitioners. IDEA has three primary goals: 1) To apply ethical reflection to development goals and strategies and to relations between the “North” and “South;” 2) To effect ethically sound development policies, institutions, and practices. 3) To promote solidarity, mutual support, and interchange among those development theorists and practitioners throughout the world who are seeking to implement ethically better development paradigms and strategies. IDEA offers membership, holds international conferences, and maintains an active website.