Department of Political Science


The Ethics of Poverty

Course Code


Course Tutor

Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia (Department of Political Science)


One 3,000 word essay

Credit Value


About this course

Are international institutions, like the WTO, violating the human rights of the poor across the world? Are we in affluent countries responsible for violating the rights of the poor? Is poverty itself a human rights violation? How should we define poverty and what is the relationship between poverty and development? How do both relate to human rights? What is the “resource curse” suffered by countries with natural resources? Should international trade be subject to human rights standards or conditionality, and would these solve the problem of global poverty? What is international law and does it enshrine privileges that should be reformed in order to address global inequalities? This module addresses international and global institutions in terms of their relationships to poverty. It asks students to consider and debate whether different accounts of fairness and rights can be applied to institutional questions of international significance. The module covers theoretical approaches and conceptual frameworks such as cosmopolitanism, statism, self-determination, development, meanings of poverty, fairness, human rights, fair trade, and global resources, in order develop answers to these questions. Students are encouraged to take up positions and defend them in debate as part of their preparation for writing an essay that sets out a clear ethical argument.

We use real life, practical examples from international politics to consider the ways that poverty might be addressed as an ethical priority in the modern world.