Ethics, Development And Disaster

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ETHICS AND DEVELOPMENT DAY
INTER-AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK
JANUARY 11, 2005, WASHINGTON DC

ETHICS, DEVELOPMENT AND DISASTER1
AMARTYA SEN
Nobel Laureate
1
The relation between ethics and development is a grand subject, which has implications for a thousand specific problems in the world in which we live. It is wonderful that this general discipline, with such a wide reach and central relevance, has found a fine and productive home at the InterAmerican Development Bank, secured by the long-standing commitment of President Enrique Iglesias and the firm and innovative stewardship of Bernardo Kliksberg. The intellectual engagements of the
"Ethics and Development Day" provide an apt setting for the celebration of the leadership of
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The discipline of ethics and development should also take them on board and critically examine the understanding that a general outlook can offer to specific challenges that the world has to cope with as a matter of extreme urgency. The recent human disaster resulting from an underground earthquake on the day after Christmas, which led to devastating tsunamis in the Indian ocean, which have already killed at least 150,000 people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and a number of other countries is just such an event, and since this year's Ethics and Development Day is being held under the shadow of that catastrophe, I thought I should comment specifically on the relevance of our general discipline for a fuller understanding of this very specific calamity and policy issues associated with it.
2

I know, of course, that the immediate geographical region with which IDB is involved is far away from the location in which the tsunamis have recently occurred. But we live in an interdependent world in which substantial tragedies suffered by any part of humanity has ethical and reflective relevance for every other part of mankind: the cerebral distance between Banda Aceh and Rio de
Janeiro is far less than the physical distance that geographically separates them.

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