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					4                                                                                                                       FMR 12




    Development,


                                                                                                                                   Panos/Chris Stowers
    displacement and ethics
                                                                                                        by Peter Penz
    One of the social costs of development is that dams,                                exceed such costs. Questions of com-
                                                                                        pensation and distribution are treated
    roads, ports, railways, mines and logging displace                                  as separate, political matters. It is
                                                                                        possible for those displaced to become
    people. In all cases displacement raises important                                  worse off, for these costs to be taken
                                                                                        into account, and yet for the project
    ethical questions. What is owed to people who are                                   or policy to generate positive net
                                                                                        benefits. Such a line of reasoning lay
    displaced? Under what conditions can development                                    behind the statement of Jawaharlal
    that includes displacement be justified? What kind                                  Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister,
                                                                                        that people displaced by dams had to
    of ethical analysis can provide justification for                                   make such sacrifices for the good of
                                                                                        the country.
    displacement-inducing development?1
                                                                                        Self-determination, on the other hand,
                                                                                        is more an issue of freedom and con-
    Three ethical perspectives                equality. The public interest perspec-    trol. In its libertarian form, which
                                              tive is given concrete expression by



    T
                                                                                        focuses on the self-determination of
            hree broad theoretical perspec-   cost-benefit analysis. The criterion is   individuals, displacement – at least of
            tives can be used to test the     that of net benefits to the population    property owners – is necessarily
            justification of development-     as a whole. Negative side effects,        immoral. There is also a communitari-
    induced displacement. Their               including displacement, are treated as    an interpretation of self-determination,
    respective central values are the pub-    costs and the question is whether the     which is violated by the coercive
    lic interest, self-determination and      benefits of the project or policy         removal or forced migration of whole
FMR 12                                                                                    Development, displacement and ethics                     5


communities. This can be a promising           development, not simply receive com-         a mandate to assist only ethically jus-
antidote to heavy-handed and business-         pensation. At the same time, equality        tifiable development. Such mandates
privileging development from the top.          requires that displaced communities          require them to apply ethical condi-
However, it is also too crude on its           are not the only ones to benefit from        tionality when assessing projects. The
own. It ignores broader public-interest        development.                                 business community is similarly oblig-
considerations, such as improved                                                            ed to exercise ethical conditionality.
living conditions resulting from the           Can these three perspectives be              The ethical responsibilities of the
electricity and irrigation provided by         brought together? One way of doing           business community do not change
dams.                                          this is to require self-determination        when enterprises cross borders. When
                                               by resettling populations only on the        under-resourced, fallible or corrupt
One way out is for public authorities          basis of negotiations and consent but        development authorities permit dis-
to convert opposition to consent by            not as an unqualified right to veto          placement-inducing development,
those required to move by offering             development activities. Public-interest      foreign participants, even when their
them sufficient compensation to                and distributive-justice considerations      mandates are to make profits, are
move voluntarily, so that they are,            are ethically relevant. When, however,       morally required to attend to the dis-
ultimately, not displaced. There is            such considerations override consent,        placement effects of development and
much to be said for this approach.             full compensation is required (if neces-     assess them in terms of the ethical
But it cannot be ignored that such an          sary, determined by fair adjudication).      justifiability of such development.
approach gives to those required to            If a certain development proposal
move the power to capture some of              cannot meet these requirements, it           Conclusion
the benefits from the project by               must be deemed unjustifiable in
demanding much higher compensa-                terms of the ethical considerations          Applying ethical analysis to displace-
tion than is needed to merely not be           employed here.                               ment-inducing development moves
worse off. This could make the pro-                                                         the treatment away from simple
ject too costly to finance or at least         Indirect displacement and                    moralism. It recognises ethical com-
deprive others of a fair share of the          sovereignty                                  plexity, including the possibility that
benefits.                                                                                   such displacement may be justified if
                                               Two further matters, which introduce         certain conditions are met. The public
Moreover, development projects and             complications, are those of indirect         interest and poverty reduction, on the
policies can also be justified on the          displacement and sovereignty.                one hand, and self-determination and
basis of reducing poverty and                                                               individual rights protecting against
inequality, the concerns of the third          Displacement is indirect when primary        harm and coercion, on the other,
perspective, egalitarianism.                   causal agents cannot be identified due       stand in tension with each other.
Development-induced displacement               to environmental, economic and other         The former ethical considerations
can conceivably reduce inequalities if         kinds of systemic interaction. In such       may justify certain development
it primarily benefits the poor and             a case, the burden of ethical responsi-      activities and policies even when they
puts the burdens on those who are              bility falls on state authorities. State     displace people.
better off. However, horizontal equity         sovereignty is another complication in
among the poor will be violated when           the equation of causal agency with           Against this prescriptive pressure,
some disadvantaged groups benefit              ethical responsibility for displace-         self-determination and individual
while others are harmed by being               ment. One plausible position is to say       rights act as counterweights but do
displaced. This can be partly resolved         that responsibility for managing             not make all displacement unjustifi-
by adequate compensation but equal             development falls entirely on domes-         able. They do, however, serve as more
sharing requires also that those dis-          tic development agencies and that            than simply compensation and reset-
placed share in the benefits of                                     foreign develop-        tlement requirements. They may be
                                                                    ment actors             sufficient to reject development pro-
                                                                    (whether business-      posals and plans, even when
                                      “If you are                   es, other states or     approved on public-interest grounds.
                                                                    NGOs) merely have
                                      to suffer,                    a responsibility to     Peter Penz is the Director of the
                                                                    abide by the laws       Centre for Refugee Studies, York
                                      you should                    and directives of       University, Toronto.
                                                                    the host state.         Email: ppenz@yorku.ca
                                      suffer in
                                                                                            1 These questions are being addressed by two
                                                                  Such a limited
                                      the inter-                  interpretation of
                                                                                            research projects based at the Centre for Refugee
                                                                                            Studies at York University in Toronto. The research
                                                                  the responsibilities      projects are analysing the ethical responsibilities
                                      est of the                  of external actors
                                                                                            of authorities concerning development-induced
                                                                                            displacement specifically in India and exploring
                                                                  can readily be            general international responsibilities in the devel-
                                      country.”                   challenged.               opment process when foreign states, businesses
                                                                                            and NGOs are involved. For details, see
                                                                  Development NGOs          www.yorku.ca/crs/edid.htm.
   Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, speaking       and national and
   to villagers who were to be displaced by the Hirakud           multinational
   Dam, 1948.                                                     development agen-
                                                                  cies normally have

				
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