Why should we care about institutional reform?


We begin with the premise that, in an increasingly interdependent world, substantial principles of justice and ethics apply globally.

Internationally oriented philosophers, development economists, and scholars from interdisciplinary fields such as international development studies, have long argued that moral responsibilities across national borders are not exhausted by constraints on inter-state relations.  Over the years, these theorists have articulated arguments for personal and institutional responsibilities on the part of the world’s affluent to end the massive deprivations that still afflict the lives of the poorer half of humankind. Such normative arguments have converged with empirical explanations of poverty that emphasize the weight of global factors over local ones. Of particular interest to us are the global rules and practices that are seen to be perpetuating severe poverty.

The international institutional order may be seen to worsen poverty in primarily two ways: (1) Commissions:  Some rules and practices directly contribute to poverty – for example, intellectual property treaties that reduce the access of poor people to essential medicines or inequitably applied trade barriers that repress exports from developing countries, and (2) Omissions:  Institutions that may help curtail harms are weak or non-existent – for example, the lack of adequate regulatory mechanisms to curb illicit financial flows from developing countries or the arms trade to volatile, conflict-vulnerable regions.

ASAP’s IRG project proposes corrections to both these errors of omission and commission.

To learn more about how and why institutional rules and practices contribute to poverty, watch:


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