Global justice: From theory to development action

Papaioannou, Theo; Yanacopulos, Helen and Aksoy, Zuhre (2009). Global justice: From theory to development action. Journal of International Development, 21(6) pp. 805–818.



One of the new forces likely to influence the future of global change and re-shape development agendas is the growing theory and practice of global justice. The latter is founded upon the moral and political claim that, in today’s globalising world, our duties and obligations to other persons extend beyond state borders. Two frontiers of the current theory and practice of global justice are poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. This paper draws on the discussion of the emerging theory and practice of global justice at the Development Studies Association conference 2008 on ‘Development’s Invisible Hands’. However, the idea of global justice is a source of intentional action and the basis of social and political struggles, not an
‘invisible hand’ of development. The focus of the paper is on particular cases of campaigns in the field of poverty reduction and environmental sustainability such as the Jubilee 2000 Debt Cancellation campaign, Make Poverty History and the campaign for farmers’ rights. The argument of the paper is that global justice is both a normative claim and an instrument of social and political action. This is clearly reflected in campaigns for and debates on extending the idea of fairness beyond state borders.

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