Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Heads of State Issue Communique on Pressing Humanitarian Concerns

Kirk Hanson and Almaz Negash of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics participated in an international conference on ethics and global affairs.

View the InterAction Council's final Communique from the Salzburg Conference. (pdf)

View a slide show of pictures from the Salzburg Conference

At its 22nd annual conference July 21-23 in Salzburg, Austria, the InterAction Council, a membership organization of former heads of state and government, called for restoring “moral centrality to world affairs” and examined two critical global issues: the plight of the world’s children and justifications for military and humanitarian intervention.

Kirk Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, spoke to the assembled leaders on the world’s responsibility to children. Hanson stressed the necessity of focusing on specific children and specific needs such as AIDS orphans, the children in Sub-Saharan Africa, child soldiers, and girls in the sex industry. He concluded that in order to meet our responsibility to children we must look past our own self-interest or the interests of any individual nation-state and put the interests of the millions of disadvantaged children worldwide above our own. Almaz Negash, director of the Global Leadership Program at the Markkula Ethics Center, participated as an observer and prepared background papers on children’s issues.

The conference included such former heads of state as Helmut Schmidt of Germany, Malcolm Fraser of Australia, Kiichi Miyazawa of Japan, Andreas van Agt of the Netherlands, Ingvar Carlsson of Sweden, James Bolger of New Zealand, Ketumile Masire of Botswana, and Abdel-Salam Majali of Jordan. In addition to Hanson, other experts included Robert McNamara (former US secretary of defense), Jean Francois-Poncet (former foreign minister of France), Michael Blumenthal (former US secretary of the treasury), Tessa Blackstone (former U.K. minister of education), Hans Kung (professor of ecumenical theology, University of Tubingen).

The members of the InterAction Council and the more than 25 experts from around the world who attended the conference provided their recommendations on how to better address some of most pressing contemporary problems facing humanity. They included:

InterAction Council Key Recommendations

  • All countries that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Child should swiftly ensure that its provisions are part of their domestic law.

  • The Committee on the Rights of the Child should publish more widely its reports on the progress of measures to protect children.

  • All countries need to recapture the post WWII sense of purpose and commitment as embodied in the Marshall Plan.

  • Major states must reassess their priorities so as to release more funds to meet their responsibilities to the world’s children.

  • Wealthy countries need to do more to open their agricultural markets;

  • International organizations should safeguard social expenditure in imposing fiscal discipline on developing countries.

  • Governments need to focus on doing all they can to giving their children the best possible tools to thrive in a difficult and competitive world.

  • All countries, particularly developed ones, need to reassess their responsibilities to the wider world.

View the InterAction Council's final Communique from the Salzburg Conference. (pdf)

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