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Social and Economic Justice

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     The Earth Charter appears on the international scenario at a time when there is a wide spectrum of conditions prevailing in various parts of the globe. From a war ridden country like Afghanistan to a peaceful country like Switzerland, we have a wide variation in conditions that prevail throughout the globe. The advent of modern media and communication has led to the concept of a Global Village. So it becomes impossible that a person living on any part of the globe “protects” or “prevents” himself from a major change that occurs in another part of the globe. Life on one part of the earth is definitely affected by the changes going on around the earth. Positively or negatively is another matter!

      “In a real sense, all life is interrelated. The agony of the poor impoverishes the rich; the betterment of the poor enriches the rich. We are inevitably our brother’s keepers because we are our brother’s brother. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly” (Martin Luther King)

     Problems like poverty, gender inequality, illiteracy and discrimination in all its forms, are widespread throughout the world, and so are the effects of these problems. Exploitation of the poor by the rich is a commonly observed problem. Low income, illiteracy and poor health conditions throw the poor population in a viscous cycle, the escape from which is almost impossible.

     In such times, The Earth Charter appears to be a “hope for dawn”, for the humanity in all its entirety. It clearly mentions a complete list of nearly all the problems that need to be solved. Focus is on the essential needs of a common human. Clean air, food security, and shelter fall in this category. But clearly there are other requirements that need to be addressed. Education, social security and equitable distribution of wealth are equally emphasized in the Earth Charter. Women have the right to live with a sense of worth and in freedom from want and from fear. Throughout the world, women face problems of comparatively low salaries, sexual harassment, “glass ceiling” etc, and the list goes on. But for continuous development and reducing poverty it is of vital importance that women are empowered. The earth charter recognizes this fact and accepts gender equality as a human right.

     A very positive thing is that the earth charter talks about “sustainability” of all the targets that are achieved by working on the Earth Charter. This is important because, achieving success once is not the only challenge. The real challenge of a job is the “maintenance”. A success remains success only if it is maintained. 

  • The basic rights of potable water, clean air, food and shelter should be guaranteed.
  • Education that can help individuals get a dependable livelihood should be promoted and provided free of cost.
  • Access to justice in all matters of life should be free of cost and for all.
  • Ongoing trading activity should support the use of sustainable resources. Measures for environmental protection should always be observed.
  • The trade of weapons or drugs which are lethal to humanity should be discouraged in all its forms.
  • Equitable distribution of wealth, nationally and internationally, should be observed.
  • The developing nations should be relieved of international debts, but the justifiable and original interests of the nations that have funded such debts should also be cared for.
  • The concept of gender equality should be promoted and implemented in all walks of life. Both sexes should be treated alike in matters like employment and justice.
  • Access to education should be recognized as the right of each and every individual regardless of the sex, ethnicity, origin or religion.
  • Acts of violence against females of all societies should be strictly condemned and proper corrective measures should be taken against those involved in violent acts.
  • A family, which is the basic unit of a society, should be strengthened.
  • The rights of everyone should be taken care of, without any discrimination.
  • No one should be denied justice on grounds of race, religion, color, sex, language and nationality.
  • The change that is meant to take place according to the earth charter should be allowed appropriate time, and no rapid or abrupt transformations should take place.
  • The plan of action to implement the earth charter, for various parts of the world should not be the same. It should be devised according to the conditions of that area, keeping in view their lands and resources, living habits and religious practices.
  • Places of cultural and spiritual significance should be restored and protected. In situations like war, the opposing forces should respect each other’s culturally and spiritually significant places.

     Social and economic justice lies at the very base of successful, sustainable and progressively improving societies. Its social justice that gives the feeling of safety to individuals and this feeling “safe” in turn provides ground for the enhancement of human thought process which of course lies in the background of all human creativity. The study of history shows that outstanding works of human mind are observed in times when society is at peace and justice prevails. Right from the beginning, social and economic justice has been the dream of all human societies. History has on its record several attempts by several people, to establish a just society. So, the concept of economic and social justice is not new. In the earth charter, there is no mention of measures that should be taken to prevent war or trade involving weapons or drugs. Corrective measures including punishment for the violent/offensive is an important part of the peace maintaining process. In my opinion this should also be a part of it.

Works Cited

Earth Charter International Secretariat. The Earth Charter. San José, Costa Rica: Earth Charter Secretariat, Earth Council, 2000s.

Corcoran, Peter Blaze, Mirian Vilela, and Alide Roerink. The Earth Charter in Action Toward a Sustainable World. Amsterdam: KIT Publishers, 2005. <http://earthcharterinaction.org/eci_book.shtml> 

Promoting Gender Equality. 2006. March 18, 2008 <http://www.unfpa.org/gender/index.htm>.

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