Tim Hayward, "Just Institutions for a Crowded Planet"
Globally, many people live in circumstances of scarcity that is more than just moderate. Basic justice is unavailable to them, even though others live in conditions of abundance. This radical inequality is compounded by the fact that aggregate demands on the planet’s capacities exceed sustainable supply. Ecological overshoot and radical inequality are thus a dual problem. There is a circumstantial imperative to resolve this problem if globally just institutions are to be possible at all: there must be contraction of aggregate human demand and convergence in the scale of demand between richest and poorest. This imperative has normative force if we assume that every human being has a basic right of access to the necessary means of at least a minimally decent life. Answering to the basic right are three kinds of duty: not to deprive, to protect against deprivation, and to assist where deprivation has occurred. Duties of assistance comprise rectification of the breach of prior duties. Their allocation tracks relations of advantage and disadvantage in the global economy. The duties, like the rights, need not be thought of as attachments or possessions of individuals, but can be regarded as functions of social positions in contingent circumstances as operated on by the basic normative imperative. That imperative requires human rights to take priority over mere rights of property when they conflict. If the global order currently is structurally and dynamically committed in a direction antithetical to what global justice requires, the creation of just institutions globally could require a revolutionary transformation. To ascertain what ‘our duties’ regarding just global institutions are, therefore, we may need to learn from perspectives and voices other than those that share assumptions of liberal political economy about the world.