Justice under anarchy: Rawlsian global justice with New Zealand as a case study

10 Feb 2015

This thesis makes an argument for global justice by exploring neglected areas of Rawlsian theory, and using New Zealand as a case study.


In giving its view of global justice, the thesis argues for a global difference principle focused on persons. This argument includes an exploration of a neglected aspect of the principle; how it is constrained by the duty of assistance and the just savings principle. The thesis will also show that the global difference principle makes demands on developed nations because they can help realize the principle by improving conditions in developing nations by using Official Development Assistance. It is also likely that developed nations can improve conditions in the developing world by using the international factor of trade. However, rather than just focusing on this factor, the thesis reasons it is best to use this factor in tandem with Official Development Assistance. The thesis also shows that developed nations should provide Official Development Assistance by demonstrating how the numerous pledges made by developed nations over the years regarding Official Development Assistance amount to promises, and that promises have moral significance. Before moving on to discuss New Zealand’s Official Development Assistance programme, the thesis examines one of Rawls’s international principles of justice, the freedom and independence of peoples principle, and how it applies to New Zealand. In making an argument for the principle, the thesis shows how the principle can fit into a global justice framework, and adds to the literature by showing how the principle should treat small polities. The thesis also assesses how New Zealand’s history of colonialism has and has not respected the principle. This history also affects New Zealand’s Official Development Assistance programme, so much so that one can be justified in describing this programme as being a relic of this history. This programme will be the subject of the final topic-based chapter. Previous assessments of the programme have been done with no, or a limited, normative framework. By this point a detailed Rawlsian normative framework, along with a picture of Official Development Assistance’s efficacy, is in place, and is used to analyse the programme. This analysis includes the policy recommendations of monetarily enlarging the programme, focusing the programme on the globally least advantaged, and giving more of the programme’s funds to multilateral agencies.

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