Poverty eradication has been identified as the largest challenge facing
international society in its quest for a peaceful, prosperous, and just world. I
respond to this challenge by proposing a global poverty eradication principle.
Grounded in John Rawls’s account of human rights and assistance for the law of
peoples, the global poverty eradication principle applies regardless of causal
patterns that may obtain in a given case. The relationship between persons
affected by poverty and their governments has implications only for the
selection of appropriate means, but never undermines the goal of poverty
eradication itself. The duties of human rights and assistance that establish the
global poverty eradication principle apply even to societies that may reject
them, because they are institutional reaffirmations of the natural duties of
persons in the context of international society, without whose affirmation no
domestic society can be considered well-ordered.
I conclude by pointing out some of the challenges that are likely to arise in
the application of the global poverty eradication principle. While I cannot hope
to settle these practical problems philosophically, flagging them helps to
clarify the scope of application of the global poverty eradication principle and
gives a sense of the concrete targets and measures that could be adopted in
working toward its fulfillment in practice, especially for the elimination of
certain types of severe deprivation at a minimum.
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