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Earth Community Organization (ECO)
the Global Community

Dr. Sue L.T. McGregor
Minister of Family and Human Development for Interim Earth Government
Professor, Department of Education
Coordinator Peace and Conflict Studies Program
Mount Saint Vincent University 

(My CV is shown at this site: www.consultmcgregor.com}
Letter from our newly appointed Minister of Family and Human Development

for Discussion Roundtables 2, 4, 10, 13, 16, 18, 20, 21, 33, 37, 40, and 55

Table of Contents

The Role of Families in Sustainable Development

The Role of Families in Sustainable Development (Proposal for an Open Informal Discussion Roundtable)

This conference is about managing and measuring sustainable development. Sustainable development has two fronts - sustainable production and sustainable consumption. Sustainable consumption addresses the demand side while sustainable development addresses the supply side. The demand side focuses on consumers'choice of goods and services to fulfil basic needs and improve quality of life while the supply side focuses on the economic, social, and environmental impact of production processes. Production is concerned with making sure that resources used to make goods and services consumed by families can be replenished in such a way that reduces the burden on the Earth's carrying capacity and does not impact negatively on intra and inter-generational equity. Sustainable consumption is concerned with decisions made by citizens in their consumption role. It is the fulfilment of basic human needs without undermining the capacity of the environment to fulfill the needs of present and future generations. Sustainable consumption encompasses sustainable management of resources, considerations for the natural environment and societal processes of change, the promotion of human dignity, quality of life and the perspective of interdependencereferring to the interplay between people and environment and the relationships between economies, nationally and internationally.

I propose an "Open Informal Discussion Roundtable" on the topic of extending the idea of sustainability to be a moral and ethical state, as well as an economic and environmental state, wherein sustainable consumption patterns respect the universal values of peace, security, justice and equity within the human relationships that exist in the global village. Put more simply, not only should consumers be concerned with the impact of their decisions on the environment but also on the lives and well-being of other people. Since one of the key functions of families as a social institution is to engage in production (selling their labour in return for wages) and consumption (using those wages to buy goods and services), the roundtable would examine the role of families as they impact sustainable consumption and development. To embrace a moral and ethical perspective, the family's function of production and consumption has to be discussed in relation to its other key functions , especially (a) socialization of children into adult, roles and (b) social control of family members so they are responsible contributing members of society.

I am prepared to lead the discussion by providing a half hour talk on the issues noted above, especially the family function perspective since so much good work has been done already by The Global Community organization on measuring sustainability, and then opening up the roundtable to contributions from those in attendance. An analysis of the formulas used to measure the GESDI and the GSDP revealed the key components of quality of life, spiritual pathways, family stability, social justice, consumption, human rights, living standards, responsible citizens, and healthy families. I see this roundtable as a great opportunity to expand on what these aspects of the indicators mean and how we collectively understand them in relation to world sustainable development.


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The Family Perspective in Sustainable Consumption and Development

by Dr. Sue L.T. McGregor
Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS Canada
Coordinator of Peace and Conflict Studies Program
Professor, Department of Education

Author’s note - July 18, 2000 - This paper was written in haste but the message is no less sincere! Prints off to be 23 pages in 12 pitch and Times New Roman font.


It is my hope that this paper provides some exciting synergy between sustainable development, consumption and family well-being. New concepts (the human family, human responsibilities, human security, citizenship education) and old concepts (quality of life, well-being, justice and standard of living) have been combined in conjunction with a comparative analysis of the alternative approaches to the GDP as a way to bring together a collection of viewpoints to understand a family perspective in sustainable consumption and development.

This conference is about managing and measuring sustainable development. Sustainable development has two fronts - sustainable production and sustainable consumption. Sustainable consumption addresses the demand side while sustainable development addresses the supply side. The demand side focuses on consumers' choice of goods and services to fulfil basic needs and improve quality of life while the supply side focuses on the economic, social, and environmental impact of production processes. Production is concerned with making sure that resources used to make goods and services consumed by families can be replenished in such a way that reduces the burden on the Earth's carrying capacity and does not impact negatively on intra and inter-generational equity. Sustainable consumption is concerned with decisions made by citizens in their consumption role. It is the fulfilment of basic human needs without undermining the capacity of the environment to fulfil the needs of present and future generations. Sustainable consumption encompasses sustainable management of resources, considerations for the natural environment and societal processes of change, the promotion of human dignity, quality of life and the perspective of interdependence referring to the interplay between people and environments and the relationships between economies, nationally and internationally.

This Open Informal Discussion Roundtable will be on the topic of extending the idea of sustainability to be a moral and ethical state, as well as an economic and environmental state, wherein sustainable consumption patterns respect the universal values of peace, security, justice and equity within the human relationships that exist in the global village. Put more simply, not only should consumers be concerned with the impact of their decisions on the environment but also on the lives and well-being of other people. Since one of the key functions of families as a social institution is to engage in production (selling their labour in return for wages) and consumption (using those wages to buy goods and services), the roundtable would examine the role of families as they impact sustainable consumption and development. To embrace a moral and ethical perspective, the family's function of production and consumption has to be discussed in relation to its other key functions, especially (a) socialization of children into adult roles and (b) social control of family members so they are responsible contributing members of society. You are invited to browse www.consultmcgregor.com for copies of papers related to this topic.

The family function perspective will balance the good work that has been done already by the SWSD on measuring sustainability, and then opening up the roundtable to contributions from those in attendance. An analysis of the formulas used to measure the GESDI and the GSDP revealed the key components of quality of life, spiritual pathways, family stability, social justice, consumption, human rights, living standards, responsible citizens, and healthy families. I see this roundtable as a great opportunity to expand on what some of these aspects of the indicators mean and how we collectively understand them in relation to world sustainable development.

Human Family

From the moment we are born, we are destined to be in relationship with others (Jackson, 1990). My profession, home economics, has always been concerned with relationships but has often focused on intra familial relationships leading to strong individual family units (spousal, sibling and parent/child relationships). This focus needs to be expanded to include the human family which refers to the relationships between people comprising the world population - the collection of beings called humanity. Jackson notes that people desire to bond together, not only at the family level but, at the community level as well. Relationships with teachers, clergy, teams, co-workers, etc. build a sense of solidarity - an identity among members of a group. He takes this solidarity to a higher level, that of nations and cultures, urging those studying peace to extend it to the global level as well - the human family. Respect for the dignity of each person in the human family creates bonds between people. Jackson makes the interesting point that people tend to have less of a personal relationship with nationality and other cultures than they do with family members and close friends. It is this disconnectedness that needs to be mended if we are to nurture the human family as a whole. Our relationships with more distant members of the human family have to become personal because we all share a common destiny, that being to promote the common good. The common good is the totality of social conditions which make it possible for people to reach their full potential in a timely fashion. This common destiny means it is time for an ever-expanding sense of community so that all members of the human family can reach their fullest potential.

The home economics profession’s general slogan for the 21st century could expand beyond "the voice for strong families" to include "the voice for a strong human family". Figure 1 illustrates the creed for "The One Human Family" as set out on the One Human Family web site. This creed is especially poignant when one appreciates that "it is the diversity of the human family which gives it so rich a pattern of relationships. For every race and every culture has its own quality to contribute, its own note to sound, its own force to add to the whole of humanity’s progress on the evolutionary path to completion of its destiny" ("The human family", n.d., web citation).

Clay (1997) recognizes family, among education, work, play and religion, as one of the things that makes us all distinctly human. By extension, each family should be concerned for the world’s human family. This is a profoundly exciting new direction for family and consumer sciences and builds on the emerging body of research on inclusion, diversity, community and the global education/perspective found in the Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, the Journal of Vocational Home Economics Education, the Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher Education Yearbook and KON’s Forum and newsletter, Dialogue. Everyone has a rightful place, and inherent responsibilities, in the world "family". The human family, the peoples of the world, should feel strong and connected to one another, and we all play a key role in guaranteeing these global relationships.

Quality of Life

NOTE that the information for the sections on quality of life, well-being and standard of living is from McGregor, S., & Goldsmith, L. (1998). Extending our understanding of quality of living, standard of living and well-being. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 90(2), 2-6.

Quality is life is "relative" and differs between individuals but it can be perceived as the level of satisfaction or confidence with one's conditions, relationships and surroundings relative to the available alternatives (Goldsmith, 1996; Jacoby & Olson, 1986). Toffler (1970) saw quality of life as something a person can attain by learning to cope with and take control of change and by guiding their own evolution. The concept of quality of life is multifaceted. Quality of life consists of, among other things: hope for the future, land, adequate food, clothing, shelter, income, employment opportunities, maternal and child health, and family and social welfare (Melson, 1980, p.2). Popcorn (1992) suggested that part of our quality of life is manifested in the physical infrastructures of our society (e.g. clean, neat, maintained and safe sidewalks, roads, streets, neighbourhoods, and parks).

Wallace (1974) identified four overarching indicators of quality of life, also evidenced in McKie's (1993) research: economic, social, environmental, and psychological. The authors would also add the conventional physical aspects of quality of life as well as political and spiritual, as did a recent Australian study (Henry, 1995). When discussing the quality of life of Canadians in Postwar Canada, McKie (1993) used such demographic indicators as: age, size of family, type of family, immigration, internal migration, superurbanization (most of Canadians live in one of three cities), suburban sprawl, stagnation of family incomes, the threat to universality of social welfare entitlement programs, the changing nature of employment, and the pervasive nature of technology. He conceded that the quality of life in other countries, especially less developed countries, is declining rapidly and is in our living rooms each night on television. By association, our perception of a good quality of life is being eroded and this is impacting our feelings of autonomy, personal security and self-worth.

The concept of quality of life is indeed multi-dimensional, complex and very subjective. For instance, someone who has changed their consumption habits to better ensure that their choices will make a better quality of life for themselves, the environment and future generations, may be seen by others as having a lower or inferior quality of life since they have removed themselves from the materialistic mainstream characteristic of our consumer society. Someone may feel that an absence of violence and abuse in their life leads to a higher quality of living even though they have fewer tangible resources, money, or shelter; peace of mind and freedom from abuse has increased the quality of their daily life relative to what it was like before. Family-life professionals have a role to play in helping families help individual members identify, clarify and select values that may improve their quality of life (Fleck, 1980). Bubolz (1990) suggested that there are four universal quality of life values which lead to "human betterment" or the improvement of the human condition. In addition to the value of species survival (human and other living organisms), they include: adequate resources, justice and equality, freedom, and peace or balance of power.

Since quality of life is at the core of our professional mission, it must be better understood, especially in relation to well-being (Engberg, 1996). To facilitate this understanding, the following sections will elaborate on the concepts of standard of living, well-being and welfare since these are often used in conjunction with the discussion of the quality of daily lives of individuals and families.

Standard of Living

Standard of living is often equated with quality of life but it is not the same thing. An individual or family's standard of living is an actual measure of the goods and services affordable by and available to them (Goldsmith, 1996). One's expenditures on these goods and services make up the total amount of money spent to maintain (or try to maintain) a standard of living, which varies from person to person (Freudeman, 1972). Garman (1995) recognized that a great motivator of economic growth (national and personal) is our interest in increasing our standard of living. These expenditures or consumption decisions affect the present and future standard of living of families here in North America (Goldsmith) and in other countries (Lusby, 1992).

A standard of living is a way of life to which a group of people are accustomed. Some people's standard of living includes only basic food, clothing, shelter and safety (if that). Other people expect to eat at expensive restaurants, wear designer clothes, live in huge homes and travel extensively. Different people expect and want different things; they have different standards which are very much shaped by values, goals, money, past experience and socialization; in fact, many standards of living are accepted without conscious thought (Parnell, 1984; Poduska, 1993). Burk (1968) suggested that once an individual recognizes the standard of living of his own society, he or she embraces the societal value system as they consciously or unconsciously decide whether to accept these standards as the basis for making purchase decisions for goods and services. The person then chooses a level of living within a chosen life style but does not necessarily strive to stay there; their perception of their quality of life, resulting from their actual living standard, may drive them to increase their economic well-being. This is just another example of how integrated these four concepts are in our everyday jargon.

Standard of living is a standard of consumption, NOT income or wages (Anderson, 1997). It can be defined as "a grade or level of subsistence and comfort in everyday life enjoyed by a community, class or individual" (Random House Dictionary, 1966). It is now being argued that a basic cost of living is one's birthright! This could be achieved through a guaranteed annual income thereby making sustenance a right. There is a movement in Canada to draft a Private Members Bill (Working title is the 7th Generation Bill, based on the indigenous model of considering the interests of the next seven generations whenever decisions are made). This Bill would help Canada change directions in the way it makes decisions within government such that the structures of society serve the goal of sustainability! Well-being, quality of life and standards of living are inherent in the development of this Bill as the GPI which takes into account non-monetary contributions to well-being (Nickerson, 1998).


According to the lexical meaning of the term, well-being is defined as the state of being happy, healthy or prosperous (Webster's Dictionary, 1969). A recent Canadian study on independence over the adult life course equated well-being with independence which was taken to mean ability to maintain control over one's life style (Marshall, McMullin, Ballantyne, Daciuk & Wigdor, 1995). "...Well-being is a state of being where all members of a community have economic security; are respected, valued and have personal worth; feel connected to those around them; are able to access necessary resources; and are able to participate in the decision-making process affecting them" (Marshall et al., p.1).

Fleck (1980) set out four functions of families related to the four traditional aspects of well-being: (a) provide physical necessities (food, clothing, shelter); (b) facilitate physical, intellectual and emotional development of members; (c) provide every opportunity for every family member to be happy and successful; and (d) provide a chance for every member to be contented and close to all other family members. Respectively, using Brown's (1993) model of well-being, these refer to efficiency in management and control over things in the home (economic and physical well-being), and to interpersonal relations and personality development within the family (social and psychological well-being). This multidimensional concept of well-being facilitates the holistic, interdisciplinary, human ecological approach that is advocated for analyzing policies and programs that affect individuals families (McGregor, 1996b). Each of the four conventional aspects of well-being will now be discussed.

Economic and physical well-being

Economic and physical well-being are concerned with the individual's and family's efficiency in management and control of things in the home. It embraces the physical and financial aspects of family life as they engage in roles of consumption, production, conservation, caregiving, and physical maintenance. For the individual and the family to be in an economically sound state and in control of things used or consumed in the home has long been an ideal upheld by home economists (Brown, 1993). Families can achieve this level of well-being by learning how to manage economic resources and household work and paid employment outside the home. Trying to meet the costs of everyday living involves decisions related to shelter, food, clothing, insurance, retirement and education and culture activities. Added to these costs are expenses related to health care, with all aspects of this range of expenditures affecting economic security and physical health and safety.

Economic well-being
Economic well-being is the degree to which individuals and families have economic adequacy and is one indicator used to measure quality of life. Each individual and family defines what constitutes economic well-being and an adequate standard of living for them (Goldsmith, 1996). The standard measure of economic well-being for a nation is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the total value of all the goods and services produced in one year in a country. The real GDP takes into account inflation since part of the economic value of goods and services includes the rise in cost of production (Garman, 1995). He suggested that a new concept, the net economic welfare (NEW), is a better measure of factors associated with quality of life, in addition to economic welfare measured by the GDP. NEW measures the effects of leisure, household work and urban disamenities (eg. lack of civility, courtesy and respect). This is an attempt to capture the measurable and immeasurable aspects of quality of life and well-being.

Economic security (well-being) in a family is the desire for protection against the economic risks people face in their daily lives (loss of employment, illness, bankruptcy, bank failures, poverty, destitution in old age). To achieve this goal, family members purchase insurance and save and invest their earned income. In their role as paid laborers, they negotiate with employers to ensure job security and pension benefits. Caregiving to elder relatives as well as to children and other dependents is becoming a great concern for employees and employers (Goldsmith & Goldsmith, 1995; McGregor, 1996c). Different levels of government provide social programs that contribute to economic security. In these times of fiscal constraint and austerity programs, community non-government organizations (NGOs) are being challenged to take up the cause of economic security where market forces and declining government intervention have left off (Rifkin, 1995).

Williams (1991) clarified that economic security is a function of many variables in combination including: money income, transfers and in-kind income, financial assets, human assets, community resources, durable goods and services, time, deferred consumption, attitude toward money, ability to manage, control over financial affairs and resources, values, insurance-risk management, ability to adjust to life transitions and life style decisions. Unpaid labor in the home is also a component of economic well-being. Although not counted in national accounts, unpaid labor accounts for over $16 Trillion worldwide, with women bearing 70% of the burden; that is, 11 trillion dollars are unaccounted for in the total world economy because so much of women's work is unpaid, underpaid or undervalued. Conversely, of men's total work, three fourths is in paid market activities hence valued and counted (McGregor, 1996c). Anything that compromises a women's ability to participate in paid labor or to recognize unpaid labor to ensure economic security is a concern for the profession: gender biases, cultural orientation, abuse and violence, war and civil strife, domestic and international policies, et cetera (Butcher, 1995).

Physical well-being

Concern with or preoccupation with the body and its needs is the focus of physical well-being; maintaining the integrity of the human body by protecting it and providing sustenance is the main objective. Physical well-being relates to the effects of people and substances on individual health and development, whether they be positive or negative. Threats to this integrity include, but are not limited to, unsafe and irresponsible personal conduct or the actions of a third party, illness, disease and malnutrition, lack of or inappropriate exercise, dangerous and hazardous products, adulterated foods, incompetent and irresponsible service delivery, and environmental degradation (e.g. depletion of ozone layer). Home economists concerned with physical well-being would advocate for instructions in the development and care of the human body including training in hygiene and systematic exercises, prevention and treatment of disease by physical, mechanical and nutritional means, and development of safe, injury free products with access to liability measures if necessary. Service delivery should be in the hands of competent, trained, ethical people whether it be airline pilots, day care providers, family life educators or mechanics.

Practitioners would work towards ensuring adequate and affordable housing for protection against the elements or abusive partners; safe, durable, and comfortable clothing and textiles; and safe, healthy, edible food products and nutrient supplements. They could be concerned with the challenges experienced by families with persons who have physical impairments or disabilities. Issues such as sleep, tension and stress management relate to physical well-being. Concern with the integrity of the natural environment is a valid dimension of physical well-being, especially since cancer, deformities and illness are now thought to be triggered or caused by environmental factors, appreciating that it will be years before true cause and effect relationships can be substantiated.


The changing physical needs of infants, children, youth, adolescents, adults (mature and elderly) encompass the scope of physical well-being. Wellness is a relatively recent concept related to physical well-being (Henry, 1995). Wellness is a new health paradigm that replaces the old model of doctors, drugs, and treating symptoms. According to the Ottawa Charter of Health Protection (World Health Organization, 1986), health is defined as a state of physical and mental well-being. Wellness embraces a holistic approach to health wherein one deals with the body, mind and emotions as a whole by combining diet, exercise and rest and stress management. Instead of blaming the doctor for an illness and expecting insurance companies and government to pick up the health care tab, a wellness approach places personal responsibility at the core of the problem; managing oneself in a balanced approach lessens the need for the old model of health care to ensure physical well-being (Naisbitt, 1984). Marshall, et al., also related well-being to health and stated that "health is not merely the absence of disease, but a positive state of physical, emotional and social well-being [italics added] (1995, p.5).

Social and Emotional Well-Being

To be concerned with the welfare of the family entails moving beyond conceptualizing the family as an economic unit, dealing with household work, economic management, physical maintenance and growth, and balancing family and work. We also have to conceive of the family as a social unit, meaning we deal with the mental aspects of the family under the rubric of interpersonal relationships (social well-being) and personality development (individual psychological well-being) (Brown, 1993).

Social well-being

Social well-being is concerned with the social needs of the family played out daily in interactions in interpersonal relationships within the family group and with the larger community, including the workplace. It is the social space of the family as a group versus psychological well-being which is the emotional space of an individual in the family. Social well-being is affected by one's ability to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with one's fellows whether they be family members and kinship, neighbours or work cohorts. One function of families is socialization of members (The Vanier Institute of the Family, 1994). Socialization concerns the process of acquiring the ability to participate in society and includes enculteration, whereby individuals learn the ways of a particular culture, usually within which they spend their daily life (Darling, 1987).

The crux of family activities and social well-being is interpersonal relationships. This involves developing an understanding of self and others, developing interpersonal skills, understanding love and romance, and relating to others. The internal dynamics of family members' interactions reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the family unit. Family life educators have to understand these dynamics including the: processes of cooperation and conflict, communication patterns and problems, conflict management, decision making and goal setting, resource management, stressors in the family, and families with special needs (Darling, 1987). Eichler (1988) identified six dimensions of familial interaction including: procreation, socialization, sexual relations, residential (living arrangements), economics, love and emotional support. These closely parallel the six functions of families set out by The Vanier Institute of Canada (1994).

Emotional well-being

Emotional well-being also deals with the mental status of family members. Emotions are strong, relatively uncontrollable feelings that affect one's behaviour with everyone experiencing a wide array of emotions. This aspect of well-being relates to a family member's feelings, impressions, sensibilities, sentiments, and meanings attached to life and how these emotions (stable or not) affect their daily lives and those of others.

Each individual member of the family has their own unique personality which is profoundly shaped by family life. It needs to be nurtured, developed, enriched and allowed to grow and adapt to changing circumstances. Families contribute to this emotional growth through the development and stabilization of individual personality systems. Through socialization, children and youth internalize general cultural and familial values and societal norms ending up with their own personality. The structure of a person's personality, especially value orientations and need disposition, is partially shaped by the family and greatly affects their emotional well-being. It is developed through thought, speech and action as one learns language, knowledge, interaction skills and ego development (Brown, 1993).

We talk of self esteem, self worth, self image, and self identity when we deal with emotional well-being. Concepts such as self-actualization, self formation and fulfilment, self concept and self expression are used to refer to emotional well-being. People need to feel that they belong and that they are connected with others (Henry, 1995). In this regard, peer pressure among teens and reference groups for adults are at issue. Consequences of attempts to gain and retain status, superiority, self respect and prestige relate to an individual's feelings of usefulness and accomplishment. Behaviour seeking reinforcement, ego-defense, independence and self control has to be understood and managed (Hawkins, Best, & Coney, 1989).

Quite often, practitioners are concerned with the process of consumer socialization and with the impact of advertising and marketing on emotional well-being. They are concerned with how individuals process information and make decisions. Other home economists study the relationship between fashion and apparel and emotional expression. Some counsel individuals for emotional stability and growth since emotional well-being is associated with thought and reflection (or lack thereof). Practitioners can help people deal with grief, guilt, anger and jealousy. Family divorce mediators help family members work through a very painful process profoundly affecting emotional well-being. Child development, adolescent development, marriage and family counselling, and family life education are career paths focused on meeting the daily emotional needs of the individual in a family setting.

Social Justice

Another concept relevant to measuring sustainable development is social justice, the kind of justice most often referred to when people say they are working for peace and justice. How would you determine if justice had been served? Justice is a multidimensional concept but it basically refers to the maintenance of something that is just (morally right and good) by (a) the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or (b) the assignment of merited punishments or rewards (Gove, 1969, p.461). Obviously we need to move beyond the dictionary meaning of the word justice, but it helps us appreciate that justice helps maintain good relationships between people, communities and nations - a prerequisite for peace (O’Mahony, 1993) by righting wrongs and making things right. It is the habits or customs whereby by people serve the rights of other people. Justice looks to the good of others. Social justice is a term that recognizes that people do not live in isolation but in community and have relations with other people shaping the common good (Ryan, 1999). The common good is "the common conditions of social life which guarantee and promote the recognition and fulfilment of man’s individual and social rights" (Ryan, web citation).

Social justice is also a multidimensional concept. It is related to other types of justice: legal, commutative, distributive and vindictive (O’Mahony, 1993). Legal justice is exercised by those in authority so that laws in relation to the common good are upheld and fulfilled. Commutative justice regulates the private right to contract (e.g., buying and selling). Violations of this justice are often referred to as fraud, theft and damage. Distributive justice refers to income and wealth distribution and labour and involves the sanctity of property and contracts (just price, wage, profit). For clarification, distributive justice is based on the concept of "to each according to their contribution" while charity refers to "to each according to their needs". Distributive justice also depends on the principle of participation, in that every person be guaranteed, by society’s institutions, the equal human right to make a productive contribution to the economy both through being a worker and/or an owner. Participation does not guarantee equal results from contributing to the economy (wages, benefits, etc.) just the right to contribute. Finally, vindictive justice involves restoring justice by means of punishment which is in proportion to the guilt (Center for Economic and Social Justice [CESJ], n.d.; O’Mahony, 1993).

Reardon (1995) also refers to social justice and to distributive justice. She says that social justice represents fair treatment and reflects the statement, "you have no right to do that to me". Fairness can mean imposing different rules due to different circumstances so that things are made right or different rules to serve the same purpose. Distributive justice refers to access to societal goods and services. Economic justice is part of social justice and refers to the moral principles which guide citizens as they design economic institutions (work, contracts, market place exchange rules) to help individuals gain material goods and possessions (CESJ, n.d.).

Figure 2 provides a summary of some of the issues classified as social justice issues. Social justice encompasses the struggles of people everywhere for gender equality, democratic government, economic opportunity, intellectual freedom (education), environmental protection and human rights. Social justice is concerned with oppression, equity, inclusiveness, diversity, opportunity, empowerment and liberation (University of Massachuset, 1999). Social justice emphasizes balance and harmony in the social life we all share. Equality and accessability are the conditions of a just social order, not the goal (Connell, 1993).

Finally, Ryan (1999) identifies six principles of social justice that help solidify the links between peace, rights, responsibilities and security:

1. A human right is not the same thing as an individual advantage. The former is a something that someone is due based on their humanity and the latter is something that someone would like to have. Any action taken by society that does not respect human rights is unjust because it does not contribute to the four things people need to fulfil their human nature - work, own things for sustenance, have knowledge and love.

2. Social institutions (e.g., schools, church, family, economy, political system, labour market, marketplace, businesses) are supposed to serve the persons living in that society. Hence, a society or social institution that is not people centered is unjust.

3. We can only ensure that social institutions are people centered and serve human rights if the people affected have a clear voice in the operation of those institutions. Any institution that does not provide access for citizen participation is unjust.

4. There are times when respecting a person’s human right has to be subordinated to the requirements of the common good, with the most obvious instances being the use of scarce natural resources and the accumulation of wealth and property rights, actions that can be detrimental to the common good.

5. Because people make up the human family, there must be institutions and international social structures to insure justice between nations and on world scale (these do exist yet).

6. Social structures need to change to accommodate the changing awareness of what constitutes the common good (changing worker rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, environmental integrity). The role of the citizens is to challenge what appears to be a lack of or failure of one of the conditions of the common good.

Human Responsibilities

Just as human beings have fundamental rights by virtue of their personhood (as recognized in the alternative indices), they also have human, ethical responsibilities. Indeed, the concept of rights often implies related obligations, duties or responsibilities (Küng, 1998). Obligation refers to legally or morally binding oneself to a course of action in a situation that is bound with constraints - binding in law or conscience. A duty suggests a more general but greater impulsion on moral or ethical grounds. Responsibility refers to moral, legal or mental accountability for one's actions, conduct or obligations (Gove, 1969). Küng further distinguishes between narrower legal obligations and ethical responsibilities in the wider sense like those prompted by conscience, love and humanity. The latter is based on the insights of the individual and cannot be compelled by the government through law.

It is a sense of responsibility that makes people accountable for their actions (Arias, 1997). But the concept of responsibility is complex. Someone can be said to "bear" responsibility for something meaning they sustain without flinching or they can be said to "accept" responsibility meaning they receive it with consent. Also, responsibility can be perceived as a negative thing, as a weight or as a positive, enlightening, empowering thing. The former implies culpability and the latter implies recognition of successes and the "attempt". Also, three conditions have to be present for someone to be act responsibly: (a) there must be a condition to which one perceives the need to respond, (b) the belief that it is in one's power to respond, and (c) the belief that responding is not only in one's power but is to one's benefit. Conversely, a person's lack of "response" -- "ability" could be a breakdown in any one or all of these steps (Jones cited in "Thoughts on responsibility", 1998).

When people think about human responsibilities they cannot turn to the United Nations for guidance as they can for human rights because the UN does not have a declaration on human responsibilities. This gap may be redressed shortly given that an organization called the InterAction Council recently (September 1997) developed a proposal for a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities (Küng, 1998). The InterAction Council hopes that a country will sponsor the Declaration so that it can be introduced to the United Nations for debate at the appropriate committee. As an aside, the InterAction Council, formed in 1983, is comprised of some 30 former heads of government or state from all continents and different political orientations. Their objective is to balance human rights with human responsibilities. They spent many years delineating the meaning of responsibilities relative to rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities developed by the InterAction Council (1997) is comprised of 19 articles, divided into six main topics: (a) fundamental principles of humanity (4 articles); (b) non-violence and respect for life (3 articles); (c) justice and solidarity (4 articles); truthfulness and tolerance (4 articles); mutual respect and partnership (3 articles), and, as with human rights, the final article says that no one can take any one of the responsibilities out of context and use it as an excuse to violate other responsibilities in the Declaration, and that every single person, group, organization and government is responsible for making the Declaration work. In more detail, the principles of humanity relate to treating everyone in a humane way and to the notions of self esteem, dignity, good over evil, and the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have done to you). Non-violence and respect for life also encompass responsibilities related to acting in peaceful ways, and respecting intergenerational and ecological protection. Justice and solidarity encompass honesty, integrity, fairness, sustainability, meeting one's potential and not abusing wealth and power. Truthfulness and tolerance embrace the principles of privacy, confidentiality, honesty, and a respect for diversity and these apply to all people, politicians, business, scientists, professionals, media, and religions. Finally, the responsibility of mutual respect and partnerships includes caring for other's well-being, appreciation and concern for the welfare and safety of others especially when it comes to children and spouses but also to all men and women in partnerships (see Figure 3).

It is interesting that the Declaration of Human Responsibilities is part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Culture of Peace Program, designed to support a global movement towards peace that is already underway (http://.www.peace.ca/unesco.htm). It is significant that UNESCO sees human’s being responsible for their actions as part of the peace movement. A world in which everyone demands rights but does not accept responsibilities for their actions can never be at peace with itself. Article 29 of the Declaration of Human Rights refers to the duties that people have to their community because the community is where the person develops their personality and their potential. Fraser (1998) boldly states that the constant demand for rights alone, without better recognition of the duties referred to in article 29, means that we cannot achieve the human rights we strive for to achieve peace. Indeed, the final clause of the Human Rights Declaration states that we cannot ignore one clause to advance another. We are in fact guilty of calling for rights but not responsibilities and have seen the results in the lack of peace, security and justice in the global human family. The Declaration of Human Responsibilities is the long awaited extension of article 29 in the Declaration of Human Rights (Fraser). It would apply not only to governments (like human rights) but also to corporations, institutions and individual people, even families. Without this well-balanced responsibility, a civilized, humane society could not operate and the well-being of individuals and families would be jeopardized significantly.

For clarification, the InterAction Council is not the only group struggling with the gap between rights and responsibilities, although it is the only one intending to take its proposal to the United Nations. Other groups are developing their declarations of responsibilities. The Astro Temple has a link to the InterAction Council site but it has developed its own Declaration of a Global Ethic which can be found at http://astro.temple.edu/~dialogue/center/declarel.htm. The Action Coalition for Global Change has developed its Declaration of Human Responsibilities which can be found at http://acgc.org/ethics/adeclar.htm. The Hart Centre in the United Kingdom has developed a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities for their site http://www.hartcentre.demon.co.uk/udhr.htm They advised me that they were aware of the InterAction Council initiative and have been in touch with then but wanted a simpler declaration to stimulate discussion at their center on the issue of responsibilities versus rights. Even the World Economic Forum, held each year in Davos, Switzerland, has embraced the idea of a universal declaration of human responsibilities and hopes to have one drafted and approved by the 2000 meeting. This is an interesting development since the Forum is comprised mainly of American corporate power brokers who are adamantly against the InterAction Council’s declaration even though Hans Küng is working on the Forum’s draft and the Council’s version (World Economic Forum, 1997). The Alliance for a Responsible and United World also has a declaration which it calls Platform for a Responsible and United World at http://www.echo.org/en/accueil.htm.

This collection of actions calling for human responsibilities is especially germane to practitioners who are embracing Human Reflective Action Theory because this call for responsibilities is based on ethics, duties and accountability. RHA stresses ethical sensibility, being true to oneself (authenticity) and spirituality (inner strength for the common good). If we embrace the RHA leadership style, we cannot ethically ignore this component of peace education.

Citizenship Education

Citizenship is defined as the ongoing contribution of citizens to solving community and public problems and creating the world around us (Boyte & Skelton, 1998). Abala-Bertrand (1996) identifies two different sources of the concept of citizenship. First, republican citizenship stresses three main principles: the sense of belonging to a political community, loyalty towards one's homeland, and the predominance of civic duties over individual interests. Second, the liberal tradition of citizenship focuses on individualism and the central idea that all individuals are equal and have inalienable rights (e.g., human rights) that cannot be revoked by the state or any social institution. Both views prevail today and will be reflected in this discussion.

There are three elements to citizenship education: the civil, the political and the social (Abala-Bertrand, 1996; Kerr, 1998). The civil refers to community involvement, learning about and becoming helpfully involved in the life and concerns of one's community, including learning through community involvement and service to the community. The political refers to learning about, and how to make one’s self effective in, public life. This learning encompasses realistic knowledge of, and preparation for, conflict resolution and decision making, whether involving issues in local, regional, national, continental or international affairs. The social refers to social and moral responsibilities wherein people learn self-confidence and socially and morally responsible behaviour at work, play and at home - behaviour towards those in authority and towards each other.

Abala-Bertrand (1997) identifies four other dimensions of citizenship education: human rights; democracy; human development and a sustainable development ethic; and, peace at the national and international levels. The inclusion of a human rights component in citizenship education is based on the assumption that all humans are created having equal dignity; all humans have the right to belong to a social and political community; and, that all rights - political, social, civil, cultural and economic - are universal, indivisible and interdependent. Educators should include the dimension on democracy in citizenship education because any legitimate political power emanates from individual citizens, more so if they have been socialized in the skills of preparation, enforcement and improvement of the rule of law (political, legal and judicial institutions). Citizens need to be exposed to skills suitable for their personal, social, economic and political development if human rights and the rule of law (democracy) are to be sustained. Finally, human rights, democracy and sustainable development of humans cannot be attained if peace is not in place, assured and nurtured.

Bahmueller (1998) tenders another conceptualization of a framework for teaching citizenship, comprised of five parts (http://www.civiced.org/framework_doc.html#one):

1. The world - the transnational context of human rights, an open society and political order (humanitarian versus political);

2. The people - the foundation of civil society (the people) and the political community;

3. The polity - the ordering of civic life, politics and political systems (distinguish between government and NGO’s and civil society);

4. The government - public policy and participation in the formal institutions and processes of public affairs (national, provincial/state, municipal); and,

5. The citizen - the principal actor in relation with the world, the people as a whole, the polity, the government and other individual citizens.

This approach brings a holistic approach to citizenship education placing the individual person in the world, national, regional and community context.

Cotton (1997) discusses the attributes of a person who has been socialized to be a prepared citizen. She says they will have gained or developed: (a) respect for the 18 values inherent in the US Constitution; (b) respect for the common good; (c) knowledge and understanding of a nation’s founding, current government structures, political processes and global context; (d) higher level thinking skills; (e) social process skills (communication, management, consensus, cooperation); and, (f) the attitude and belief that people have an obligation to participate in civil society.

Human Security

The home economics profession has always been concerned with family well-being and security (McGregor & Goldsmith, 1998). A recent focus in the peace education field is the notion of human security, as opposed to national security and is relevant to this roundtable. The latter is concerned with national defense, war and peace keeping initiatives of a nation while the former is concerned with the well-being of the citizens within the nation and within the human family. In more detail, national defense is traditionally concerned with protection of the nation-state, defense of territories and boundaries and the preservation of political sovereignty. After the end of the Cold War era, security expanded to include the personal well-being of individuals and their ability to feel secure in the basic needs that affect their day-to-day existence: food, health, employment, population, human rights, environment, education , etc. (Ayala-Lasso, 1996; Nef, 1999).

Security, simply put, is protecting oneself, other people or society from threats and challenges to safety and existence. Being secure means that risks (exposure to harm or danger) have been reduced or eliminated - feeling insecure means the risks, or the reality, of harm are still there (Nef, 1999). The concept of human security is multidimensional and these many dimensions are set out in Figure 4.

The notion of human security should resonate loudly with those people attending the conference who are concerned with well-being. Fleck (1980) set out four functions of families related to the four traditional aspects of well-being: (a) provide physical necessities (food, clothing, shelter); (b) facilitate physical, intellectual and emotional development of members; (c) provide every opportunity for every family member to be happy and successful; and (d) provide a chance for every member to be contented and close to all other family members. Respectively, using Brown's (1993) model of well-being, these refer to efficiency in management and control over things in the home (economic and physical well-being), and to interpersonal relations and personality development within the family (social and psychological well-being). McGregor and Goldsmith’s (1998) earlier discussion of well-being also included the spiritual, the environmental and personal autonomy - the political. These dimensions of family well-being are evident in Nef’s (1999) conceptualization of global human security.

Spiritual well-being

Schneider (1994) and Redfield (1996) parallell three prevailing idealogies from which we "see the world and families": pre-industrial revolution (scriptures and elders), the industrial revolution (scientific method) and the post-industrial revolution (spiritual fulfilment and evolution). Spiritual well-being is an emerging aspect of family well-being that was originally intended to be part of our profession under the auspices of aesthetics and spiritual conditions (Baldwin, 1996; Brown, 1993; Bubolz & Sontag, 1988). It has not received much attention but should no longer be ignored. It captures a layer of well-being, a sense of insight and ethereal, intangible evolution, hope and faith not readily imparted by either social or psychological well-being as they are conventionally defined. It also enriches the link between well-being and holistic wellness, which deals with mental, emotional and spiritual as well as physical health (Baldwin).

The spiritual aspect of well-being would encompass: the joy and sense of completeness associated with the holistic connectedness of the world, an appreciation of nature as a dynamic ecosystem, and the pure joy of living, peace and faith gained from insights and moments of growth and enlightenment (via organized Western or Eastern religion and other doctrines and creeds, New Age belief systems, even First Nation's aboriginal belief systems). While some would argue that spiritual well-being is not within the realm of home economics, others are beginning to see this aspect of well-being as central to what is missing in many families' lives hence central to home economics (Henry, 1995). Redfield (1996) and Taylor (1992) argued that humanity lost itself in creating an economic security to replace the spiritual one which it had lost, evidenced by families' attempts to fill "the gap" by resorting to over-consumption, materialism, addictions and violence.

True internal peace often eludes people because, in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day living, it is easy to forget to tend to the most private, most important part of us, our spiritual self and soul, appreciating that we all need to broaden our view of what spiritual means (Cassidy, 1995). Cassidy continued by noting that, if individuals and families derive meaning and purpose in life from "doing" and "having" rather than "being", they are in trouble since they tend to focus on themselves all the time rather than others in the home or in the larger local and global community, a sentiment espoused by Schneider (1994) and Taylor (1992). Even though the profession has skirted the subject of spiritual well-being, it may be time to consider the merits of bringing this aspect of family life into our realm of thought, if not immediately into our daily practice.

Political (personal power) well-being

Another new aspect of well-being is the personal political dimension with political referring to family and individual empowerment and autonomy based on moral and ethical freedom rather than, or in spite of, political government activities (Brown, 1993; Engberg, 1996; Henry, 1995; Marshall et al., 1995). Political well-being, or an internal sense of power and autonomy, is construed as being in control of one's life, being able to and having the freedom to make decisions, being aware of and able to anticipate the consequences of one's actions on one's self and others and having the skills to act on one's decisions. We equate this with empowerment and self formation in our mission statement. When this dimension of well-being is achieved, individuals no longer accept unquestioningly those practices in society that are frequently taken for granted, those practices which reinforce inequality and injustice (Henry). A concern for social and moral ethical issues are beginning to re-emerge in our practice and this has been called, by Henry, political well-being; witness the call for a contextual, moral, global holistic approach to practice espoused by Engberg (1988), McGregor (1996b), Vaines (1980) and others.

Using the human security label is a sign that governments have begun to recognize the importance of the well-being of citizens as well as the security of the state and the nation. Heinbecker (1999) elaborates further, noting that human security complements, but does not substitute for, national security; that individual human beings and communities, rather than states, are the measure of security; that the security of states is necessary, but not sufficient, to ensure individual well-being. This approach to family well-being places families at the forefront of policy and government programs, dialogue and deliberations since their interest is now also in focus along with deficit, debts and military might.

Comparative Analysis of Indicators for Measuring Development

The final part of the paper shares a comparative analysis of the alternative approaches to measuring development as a way to illustrate that the family perspective, both the family as a social institution and the human family, are integral components of measuring development and must continue to be integrated into the formulas designed to capture human and social development.

ECONOMIC INDICATORS measure economic well-being and wealth

Money is the only measure of well-being recognized by conventional economies - the price of something is a measure of its value. When countries join the UN, they have to subscribe to the System of National Accounts. These accounts are used to measure the GDP. The Gross Domestic Product is the primary indicator or measure of economic production within a country (growth and development). It is the total dollar value of all of the goods and services made within one year. The global GDP in the mid 90s is $26 trillion and a 4% annual growth is considered alright. The GDP does NOT measure:

1. health

2. infant mortality

3. morbidity

4. suicide rates

5. crime

6. poverty

7. environmental health

Criticism - as the GDP increases, well-being does not necessarily increase along with it. We cannot assume that things are getting better (improved life conditions) just because more money is spent! Check out www.rprogress.org for a graph that makes this point.

SOCIAL INDICATORS - measure social well-being and wealth

Raising families, caring for elders, voluntary community work and much of art and culture contribute to well-being but often are done without being paid - people need to feel that their efforts are appreciated. SOCIAL HEALTH CANNOT BE MEASURED USING ECONOMIC INDICATORS. Governments resist this because many social indicators are OUTSIDE the direct realm of government influence.

Discussion of Some Alternatives to the GDP






Efforts to capture the social aspects

A. Fordham Index of Social Health (FISH)

Measures 16 socio-economic indicators:

1. infant mortality
2. child abuse
3. child poverty
4. teen suicide
5. drug abuse
6. high school drop-outs
7. average weekly earnings
8. unemployment
9. health insurance coverage
10. poverty among elderly
11. health insurance for elderly
12. highway deaths due to alcohol
13. homicides
14. food stamp distribution
15. housing
16. income inequality

Since 1973, the FISH index has declined as the GDP increased in the US.

In Canada, the FISH index has stayed constant since 1985 as the GDP increased.

B. Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)

GPI accounts for:

1. Unpaid work
2. crime
3. family breakdown
4. household work
5. volunteer work
6. income distribution
7. resource depletion
8. pollution
9. defense expenditures
10. environmental damage
11. changes in leisure time
12. life span of consumer durables and public infrastructure
13. dependence on foreign assets

Quality of life has deteriorated at an accelerating rate since 1970 - the GPI went down as the GDP went up in the US. In Canada, as the GDP went up, the GPI has not risen but has stayed constant.

C. Net Economic Welfare (NEW) Paul A. Samuelson (information not available at this time).

D. United Nations Human Development Index (UNHDI)

Efforts to capture the sustainability aspects

E. Gross Sustainable Development Product (GSDP) - measures the cost of growth and development

It is defined as the total value of production within a region over time and is measured using market prices for goods and services transactions in the economy. It is designed to replace the GDP. The GSDP measures:

1. economic impacts of environmental and health degradation or improvement

2. resource depletion, depreciation or appreciation or finding new resources (stocks)

3. impact of people activity on environment

4. impact of people activity on availability of resources

5. impact of people activity on economic development

6. the quality of environment, people, resources and development and impact of changes in these on the national income and wealth

7. impact of global concerns on the economy

8. welfare, quality of life and economic development of future generations

9. expenditures on pollution, health, floods, car accidents

10. the resource stocks and productive capabilities of exploited people and ecosystems

11. the impact of economic growth on biological diversity

12. impacts of social costs, health costs, on future generations and the nation's income

F. Gross Environmental Sustainable Development Index (GESDI) - measures the quality of growth and development

Over 200 indicators of non-market values (values other than money) are measure organized by four areas:

1. people - 111 (includes dimensions of social, economic, psychological, physical and spiritual indicators as well as literacy, rights, justice, diversity, community, peace and conflict, legal and political, well-being etc)

2. available resources - 11

3. environment - 41

4. economic development - 70

The sustainability of a variable (the impact or the stress created) is comprised of:

1. the Urgency or need to find a solution to the stress in a reasonable period,

2. the Geographical context of the impact or stress,

3. the Persistence or period of time that the impact will be felt at a significant level, and

4. the Complexity (number of interactions) of impact between the four above quality systems.

Table 1 provides a comparative analysis of these indices and shows graphically that there is little agreement on what to include in the measures, save for a few concepts. This does not make the work any less important, thougth. Also, there are other variables that are not yet measured in these indices, as recognized by originators of the indices:

loss of civility in communities

strength of communities

cost of commuting to work

human capital

genetic gene pool diversity

workplace environment

underground economy

life style induced disease

balance of family and work.

Table 1 - Overview of main concepts covered by alternative measures

References are available on request from


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Application for Position of Minister of Family and Human Development

Formation of Democratically Elected Earth Government

Application for Position of Minister of Family and Human Development

Dr. Sue L.T. McGregor
Professor, Department of Education
Coordinator Peace and Conflict Studies Program
Mount Saint Vincent University

It is with honor, eagerness and humility that I apply for the position of Minister of Family and Human Development (FHD) within the Interim Earth Government. From the inaugural 2000 World Congress, the Earth Community Organization emerged and, with its birth, the need for a government model that will place democracy, people and the earth before profit, power and economic growth. One of the universal values emerging from the 2000 Congress is that "all cultures and nations value the family as the most important basic social unit". That is why I proposed that there be a Minister of Family and Human Development and that I would be a good candidate for this position.

I have been a home economist for over 30 years and my entire focus has been on individual and family well-being. The century old profession of home economics grew out of the Industrial Revolution in response to its impact on the quality of life, well-being and standard of living of individuals and families. The mission of the profession is to enable individuals and families to become empowered to help themselves reach their full potential and to continually improve the quality of their daily lives. The profession is concerned with the individual family unit (regardless of what it looks like) and the family as a democratic social institution (believed to fulfil the roles of socialization, procreation, consumption and production, social control, love nurturance and moral and maintenance of the household and daily lives). Indeed, home economists were the driving force behind the 1994 International UN Year of the Family.

In the early 80's, the profession embraced the human ecology perspective. This approach to practice, policy, research and education enables us to view the individual and family as living ecosystems comprised of separate but interrelated units that enter into two-way relationships with their near environments as they acquire, use and dispose of resources to meet five basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, family relations and human development and consumption). These near environments include home, work, play, school, worship, community, government, marketplace, nature, etc. Anyone embracing a human ecology perspective (including me) assumes that individuals and families affect their environments and their environments affect them. This reciprocal relationship happens in the local, provincial/state/territorial, regional, national and international levels. As the Minister of Family and Human Development, I will continue to embrace a human ecological perspective in my role in the Earth Government.

The home economics profession also values the concepts of synergy, integration and being holistic. Synergy refers to working jointly toward a common end (versus working separately). Integration refers to bringing disparate parts together in a totally new way that was not conceived of before - to bring parts together into a united whole. Holistic refers to seeing all things as interconnected, like a web - one part cannot be affected without affecting the other things that are tied to it. Taken together, this is a powerful approach to my role as Minister of Family and Human Development. I would approach interactions with other ministers and other institutions assuming that synergy is possible, more so if we take an integrated, holistic approach to managing the earth community.

The Earth Government is based on universal values as is the profession of home economics. Universal values were the focus of the 2000 World Congress

The document at this site profiles the collection of values identified by congress participants as principles for societal processes that can be life-restoring and life giving. These values include: ethics; sustainability; peace; freedom; social and economic justice; accountability; wellness, well-being and quality of life; community; spirituality; ecological integrity; human rights; human responsibilities; equality; intergenerational equity; relationships; cooperation; tolerance; respect for diversity; democracy; and, responsible choice (especially in our consumer choices). Home economics is also values based, embracing the same collection of universal values as does the Earth Government. My recent foray into the field of peace education prompted me to begin research on citizenship education, global education, human rights education and peace education and the synergy with consumer and family education. Some of my recent thoughts can be found at my website http://www.consultmcgregor.com. I am also writing a think piece for the honor’s society for home economics in the United States (Kappa Omicron Nu (KON)) about the links between peace, human reflective action and home economics. I will share this if anyone asks for it (it will soon be posted on the KON website at http://www.kon.org for public dialogue. I am refining my thoughts about the impact of consumer rights on human rights and the links between consumer responsibilities and human responsibilities in the global human family. I’ve also written a piece about citizenship education and consumer education and several papers on globalization consumer education and socialization (at my website above).

Before I close, I would like to speak a bit to the obvious parallels, but distinctions, between the notions of social development and the family and human development (there is a Minister of Social Development).While the former is concerned with promoting social progress relative to economic progress, the latter is concerned with the empowerment of individuals and family units that make up society and are the backbone of the economy. We would not have an economy without individuals working. Families are the main agents of social development because of their fundamental role as an intermediate body - the daily context - between individuals and society. In order to have social development, we have to have family and human development. This need is being compromised by the stance taken in UN initiatives. Even though the UN proclaimed 1994 the International Year of the Family, the 1995 Copenhagen World Summit on Social Development did not recognize the family as the basic social institution, did not recognize its indisputable social network and did not reflect the family’s vital contribution to individual development or its impact on society and the economy. Reports from the 2000 April Geneva World Summit on Social Development (designed to be a report card for achievements on the targets set in 1995) note that only a few (less than 15) countries include the family in their proposals for action. There must be a voice for individuals and families in these forums and this Ministry could be that voice.

The Earth Government agrees that globalization needs to be made responsive to family and human development needs as well as social development needs. This is a challenge given that social policies are losing ground to national priorities for economic growth. Imagine what is happening to the needs of families and individuals when most countries do not have any family policy departments in their government structure, let alone family policies that could loose ground to economic priorities. This Ministry could be a voice for families and individuals in the policy arena where transnational corporations are building amazing power at the expense of the national state, the family and the environment.

I look forward to future dialogue on the role of individuals and families in sustainable development and invite you to read my paper presented at the Congress at

The Earth Government needs a Minister who speaks for the voice of family and human development because their well-being, security and self fulfillment as members of the human family is central to the mandate of the Earth Community.

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Leadership for the Human Family: Reflective Human Action for a Culture of Peace

Professor Sue L.T. McGregor, Minister of Family and Human Development of the Earth Community Organization, has an announcement to make.

Leadership for the Human Family: Reflective Human Action for a Culture of Peace
This monograph strives to illustrate how pre-service and in-service professional socialization can be augmented with a peace perspective such that leaders are socialized to see themselves as global citizens prepared to shape the future of humanity via RHA leadership strategies. Kappa Omicron Nu is honored to feature the scholarship and research of KON Research Fellow, Sue McGregor.

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Consumer Rights and Human Rights

As Minister of Family and Human Development, I am concerned with all aspects of family and individual well-being, security and quality of life and the factors that affect their ability to fulfil their basic functions as a social institution: socialization; procreation; consumption and production; social control; love, nurturance and moral; and, maintenance of the household and daily lives. This article will focus on their UN recognized rights within their consumption role and how these rights impact the human rights of global citizens. The material for this article is taken from an earlier paper I presented at the 1999, 19th International Consumer Studies and Home Economics Research Conference in Belfast, Ireland (at http://www.consultmcgregor.com).

This article is based on the premise that people are part of a global, human family which engages in a consuming role in a capitalist society. Since capitalism cannot survive without continuous consumption, consumption has been deified in our consumer society. If we accept that we live in a human family, we have to be concerned with the human relationships that emerge during family functions, especially the function of production and consumption. The basic argument of this discussion is that people need to change their approach so that they put people, relationships and sustainability first, and profits, wealth, growth and progress second or, at the least, strike a better balance between the two polarities. When this change happens, the goals of social equity and ecological soundness will become integral with economic efficiency (Sylvan, 1997) and consumers will see themselves in relation to other people and the environment.

Campbell (1987) observes that "it is not consumption in general which poses special problems of explanation, so much as that particular pattern [of consumption] which is characteristic of modern industrial [consumer] societies" (p.39). The movement against excessive consumerism or negative consumption has been labelled "anti-consumerism" (Collis et al., 1994). This movement is gravely concerned with the sustainability of current levels and patterns of consumption. They are concerned with the environmental, economic, political, labour, personal, societal and spiritual impact of excessive, run-away consumption. They define consumerism as a social and economic creed that encourages people to aspire to consume more that their share of the world's resources, regardless of the consequences.

In a consumer society, one can never have enough and this mind set is not sustainable; as a caveat, not all consumption is bad; the goal is balanced, sustainable consumption. Lafferty (1994) suggests that sustainable consumption encompasses sustainable management of resources, considerations for the natural environment and societal processes of change, the promotion of human dignity and human rights, quality of life and the perspective of interdependence referring to the interplay between people and environments and the relationships between economies, nationally and internationally.

Links Between Consumer Rights and Human Rights
When people think of human rights they often turn to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (adopted in 1948) (www.un.org/rights). When they think of consumer rights, they turn to the United Nation's Guidelines for Consumer Protection, adopted in 1985 (http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/cpp13a.htm) or CI's eight Consumer Rights (www.consumersinternational.org). Space does not allow for a profile of the development of each of these documents but relevant sources are cited for those who want to follow up on their history and future. Instead, this discussion will focus on the current intent and content of these three codes, setting the stage for ensuing discussion of the links between consumer rights and human rights.

The UN Declaration of Human Rights is intended to protect humans against actions taken by their governments. It is comprised of 30 articles organized around six themes: (a) born free and equal (2 articles); (b) civil and political rights (next 19 articles); (c) economic, social and cultural rights (next 8 articles); (d) social and international context within to achieve rights - that is, peace and human security (1 article); (e) duties to protect rights and freedoms of others in the community (1 article); and, finally, (f) one last article says that no one can take any one of the rights out of context and use it as an excuse to violate other rights in the Declaration, and that every single person, group, organization and government is responsible for making the Declaration work. In more detail, civil and political rights refer to such things as: recognition under the law, rights to fair trials and freedom of movement in and out of a country, freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention or exile, and freedom from torture as well as the rights to privacy, to have a family, to own property, free conscious and thought, public assembly and participation in government. The economic, social and cultural rights pertain to: employment and working conditions, social security, leisure, standards of living, education, moral and material interests/authorship, and arts and cultural enjoyment (Canadian Human Rights Foundation, 1986).

The United Nations Consumer Protection Guidelines constitute a comprehensive policy framework outlining what governments can do to promote consumer protection in eight areas: basic needs, safety, choice, information, representation, redress, consumer education and a healthy environment. Any government that wants to develop or revise consumer protection policy frameworks can use these guidelines as a benchmark. These guidelines embrace the principles of the exact same eight consumer rights adopted by CI in 1982. It is noteworthy that CI was the driving force behind the development of the UN guidelines and is the driving force (by UN invitation) behind the current initiative to revise the UN Guidelines so they respect sustainable consumption. In brief, the right to basic needs refers to basic goods and services which guarantee basic human survival (food, clothing, shelter, health care, education and sanitation). Safety refers to being protected against the marketing of goods or the provision of services that are hazardous to health and life. Consumers also have the right to be protected from dishonest or misleading advertising or labeling and have the right to facts and information needed to make an informed choice. Choice refers to the right to competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality while redress provides the right to be compensated for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services. The right to representation means being able to express the consumer's interest in the making and executing of government policy. The right to consumer education respects the need to acquire knowledge and skills necessary to be an informed consumer. Finally, consumers have the right to live and work in a non-threatening or dangerous, healthy environment that permits a life of dignity and well-being (CI,1999).


Even at first glance, there is potential tension between one's consumer rights and their human rights. Consumer rights assume the existence of human rights. How can one exercise the consumer right to have a voice in the policy process if they do not even have a vote or are not allowed to participate in government? How can they form consumer groups to voice their opinions collectively if they do not have to right to assemble in groups in public? How can they demand the right to consumer education when the education system is such that people cannot afford to attend, live too far away or there are no schools at all? This lack of access to education leads to illiteracy and ignorance in the general sense and, more specifically, lack of consumer education curricula leads to the inability to acquire knowledge and skills necessary to be an informed consumer. Also, how can people exercise their consumer right to information if they cannot read the information due to lack of the human right to education? How can consumers exercise their right to express the consumers' interest if they have been socialized in a planned economy wherein they do not see themselves in a consuming role? Exercising this right is exacerbated more so when people who lived in a planned economy have been forced to convert to a market economy over night but have not been socialized to function in a market economy (e.g., Russia and many African countries). How can people exercise their consumer right to safety and health in the goods and services they acquire when they do not even have the human rights of proper sanitation, safe drinking water, or adequate shelter and clothing? How can people exercise their consumer right to make choices in the marketplace if they do not have adequate incomes or steady employment? More thought provoking, how can people exercise their consumer right to redress if they do not have the human rights of recognition as a person under the law or do not have access to justice? Indeed, all of the consumer rights assume that the human rights already exist. Both the civil and political and the economic, social, and to a lesser extent, cultural human rights have to be in place in order for people to exercise their consumer rights (see Table One).

Table one - Comparison of consumer rights and human rights

 Consumer rights  Human Rights (how can one have the consumer right to... if....)
 safety  no sanitation, no safe water, no shelter or inadequate clothing
 voice  no vote, not allowed to participate in government, groups cannot meet in public
 redress  not recognized as person under the law and there is no access to justice
 choice(availability, price, accessibility and quality)  inadequate income and/or no steady employment
 consumer education  no schools, too far away, illiterate, too expensive
 healthy environment  inadequate international context to protect them from exploitation
 information  illiterate due to no education

Second, and closer to home, there is real tension between consumers' rights and the rights of other humans; that is, sometimes one's rights as a consumer impinge on the rights of other humans living in the global family. Of all of the consumer rights, the right to choice seems to be the one that impinges the most on the human rights of other people. The right to choice refers to the right to have a range and variety of goods and services at competitive, fair prices and variable, satisfactory quality. In order to assure choice in the Northern markets, governments have implemented trade laws to facilitate cross border transactions and transnational corporations (TNCs) have set up business off shore so they can lessen the cost of the production process. Unfortunately, in too many cases, the goods that are available in the Northern markets were provided by slave labour, child labour, prison labour and sweatshops or in countries that allow the TNCs to forego adhering to pollution or ecological concerns and human rights in pursuit of profit. Worse yet, elitist governments are often bribed to turn their eyes the other way leading to situations where labour rights are abused in efforts to earn more profits. This leads to abhorrent working conditions, job insecurity and low living standards (all human rights). Consumers in Northern countries have been socialized to want more and more things to consume but have not been socialized to appreciate the impact of their consumption choices on the human rights of other people; that is, they are NOT responsible for their decisions.


We need to focus on human relations and human security and how they are affected by consumption decisions. For indeed, "the very process of competitive individualistic consumption [has been] corrosive of the values that sustain human relationships and the families, communities" (Ekins, 1998,p.18). A future article will deal with the link between consumer responsibilities and human responsibilities.


Campbell, C. (1987) The romantic ethic and spirit of modern consumption. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Canadian Human Rights Foundation. (1986) Manual of major human rights instruments. Montreal, Quebec: CHRF.

Collis, C., Cooper, S., Fitzgerald, P., Lawson, J., Purkiss, J., Ryan. J., and Thomas, A. (1994) Never enough anticonsumerism campaign: A critical look at consumerism, poverty and the planet. [On line]. Available: http://www.enviroweb.org/issues/enough/enough.htm

Consumers International. (1999) The rights and responsibilities of consumers. [Online]. Available:

Ekins, P. (1998, November/December). From consumption to satisfaction. Resurgence. 191, 16-19.

Lafferty, W.M. (1994). Research and information for alternative patterns of production and consumption. [Online]. Available: http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/consume/lafferty.html

Sylvan, L. (1997) Sustainable development and the consumer movement. [Online]. Available: http://www.sofcom.com.au/ACA/speeches/Louise.html

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