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World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization


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Values and goals in the context of globalization

Values reflect a judgment of what is important in life. They represent our aspirations for the kind of society in which we want to live. Some are expressed in writing, while others are implicit in behaviour. Based on values, ethical principles provide guidance for human conduct, at the level of individuals, families, social groups, professional associations, enterprises and other private entities, the media, public institutions at various levels, nations and multilateral arrangements.

While shared values make it easier to agree on mutual goals, it is possible for those holding somewhat differing values nonetheless to agree on certain goals held in common. Values and principles expressed in legal and political instruments at international and national levels, and in the behavior of states and private actors, articulate goals of humanity, society, and institutions. They recognize rights and responsibilities of states and private actors in the pursuit of those goals, and provide ways for measuring the achievement of common goals. But how do these systems interact with market-related values in the context of globalization, and what is the emerging consensus on values that should underpin rules and processes to make globalization, economies and markets work better? Ultimately, it is against a backdrop of values and goals that the effectiveness of existing rules and institutions, and the accountability of the various actors, can be measured.

A fundamental issue is thus the identification of a common frame of reference - the values and goals which underpine the existing pattern of globalization, and those which might provide the basis for future progress.

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Established by the ILO
 Updated 12 March 2003