Friday, 28 January 2022

the concept of distributive justice

 The concept of Global Distributive Justice

                                                                         -By Shreya Verma

Inequalities that we see in today’s scenario are not novel yet have been always prevailing in the society. The only difference being that the gap between the haves and have nots have increased multi-folds. It was estimated in Oxfam inequality report that 1% of world’s richest persons owns more wealth than rest 99% population. This inequality is not only in terms of wealth as argued by Darrel Moellendorf, but is related to income and opportunities. These opportunities may be health, educational, livelihood and even environmental opportunities. This is the reason, why scholars came up with the idea of distributive justice, so that everyone can have their reasonable share. 

The concept of Distributive Justice, though, may sound similar to communism is different from it, as the latter relates to equal distribution of wealth while the former is concerned more with a society where inequalities are in moderation so that the disadvantaged ones get to live a decent life. 

 The concept of Global Justice was coined by John Rawls in his notable work Theory of Justice, 1971. John Rawls in his idea of justice did not deny that there are inequalities prevailing in society, neither did he lay emphasis on its elimination, but what he did argued was that a just society should find ways to reduce inequalities in areas where it can act. This The concept has a very wide implication. Though propounded by a political thinker the concept has been widely referred to by economists, social psychologists, jurists and even environmentalists. But the problem that we see today is that it has no actual implication, reason being all nations can’t be brought to same footage. Also, there are no international standards to measure that the resources are being distributed equitably among all. And as a consequence to that, we have nations like USA with no one below the age 24-24 having less than 4 years of schooling and on the other hand we have Somalia and Niger with almost 70% of its population that has been got less than 4 years of schooling.

Etymology: Understanding the meaning

  • Justice concerns itself mainly with who deserves what and why. Justice has always been seen as doing what is fair or dealing with people in a fair manner.

  •  And Global Justice means what individuals across the world deserve and how distribution of these entitlements can be achieved.

  •  Distributive Justice, as the name suggests, is equitable distribution of justice i.e., fairly distributing among all rights, benefits and resources. Distributive Justice is concerned mainly with distribution of wealth, income and opportunities.

  •  Global Distributive justice is a theoretical stand that addresses the issue of “just distribution of benefits and burdens across the world”. It is concerned mainly how benefits and burdens ought to be distributed among a set of individuals as a matter of right and entitlement. 

The concept of distributive Justice: It’s need

Our constitution guarantees social, economic and political justice in the text of its preamble and throughout its spirit seeks to ensure every kind of justice among its citizens be it in the scenario of opportunities, education, equal treatment, religious matters so on and so forth. Likewise, the guiding principles of most of the nations and even the UN tries to mitigate differences between people of any race, cast, sex, religion of origin. But despite this, there are and have always been inequalities prevailing in the society.

In a recent survey by Oxfam after the covid-19 pandemic which it has quoted as the inequality virus it has been reported that 1,000 richest people on the planet recouped their COVID-19 losses within just nine months, but it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic.

There are few of us who actually get proper nutrition that is required in our daily diet as prescribed by WHO. Also, we have seen in the Pandemic waves that not all of us are lucky enough to afford proper medical facilities. Low life expectancy rate in poor countries too is a consequence of unequal distribution of resources. This has led to formation of a huge gap between rich and poor. So, there arises an emerging need for a theory through which the gap can be removed and here comes in picture the concept of global distributive justice which lay emphasis on how equitable distribution of opportunities can actually bring distributive justice.

Critical Analysis of the concept of distributive justice

Despite of various discussions and debates over the topic of distributive justice, it has been supported by many philosophers but it has also been criticized by many for it being too idealistic. Realist thinkers have argued that the concept has no practical implication and has been used time and again for advancing certain political agendas. As the social scholars like Thomas Pogge and Gillian Brock, the supporters of the theory have suggested redistribution of wealth and resources between the rich and the poor for mitigating poverty, which in my view are practically impossible and on the other hand economist and the Noble Laureate Prof. Amartya Sen have argued that equality can’t simply be begotten. As even if two persons are financially equal there may be physical inequalities between them as one of them be impaired by some bodily disability.

We also understand that it is not at all possible to do justice i.e., giving everyone what they deserve in reality as globally some have geo-political and geographical supremacy over others, with some nations being rich in resources and some having none. This has led to worsening the conditions of already laid-back nations. As the rich keeps exploiting poor.

Darrel Moellendorf has propounded four cosmopolitan reforms that could bring Global distribution of justice, which are-

  1. To legislate liberalized immigration policies, so that everyone gets equal exposure at a global level.

  2. To prohibit loan conditionality requiring labour market liberalization.

  3. To sequence trade liberalization, in order to support developing countries.

  4. To institute a global tax

Beside this, we can actually realize this dream of John Rawls by improving educational facilities around the globe. As has been rightly quoted by John Legend “The solution to this best way to fight poverty is to empower people through access to quality education”


  1. John Rawls Theory of justice, 1971


  3. Garcia, Frank J., Global Justice and International Economic Law : Three Takes, Cambridge University Press, 2013.

  4. Eni-Ibukun,Tomilola A., International Environmental Law and distributive justice, Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, 2013



No comments:

Post a Comment

Equality before law

  Equality before law “The state shall not deny to any person equality before the law. Meaning of right to equality This means that every pe...