Global Ethics Day

Celebrated at Singapore Management University


To celebrate the inaugural Global Ethics Day, the students in the class on ‘Global Migration and Human Security’ at Singapore Management University (SMU) had a special discussion session on ethics and migration. The Year 3 course is taught by one of the Global Ethics Fellows of the Carnegie Council, Jiyoung Song, Assistant Professor of Political Science at SMU. The students, mostly Singaporean but also from Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong, are from diverse disciplinary backgrounds from Political Science, Sociology, Psychology, Law, Economics and Accountancy.


The discussion started with the very fundamental ethics questions, “what is a global ethic? Which acts are considered wrong? What is a universally right thing to do?” The students listed exploitation as a universally wrongful act no matter under what circumstances, whereas violence, dishonesty, deception or manipulation can sometimes be justified for self-defence, utilitarian or public safety. Interesting to note that on killing (death penalty for serial killers) and torture (caning as criminal punishment or corporal punishment for disciplinary purposes), the students are divided.


On ethics and migration, the class focused on migrants’ rights and citizens’ ethics as they are currently working on three projects on 1) migrant workers’ access to legal aid and justice in 5 selected countries in Asia, 2) human trafficking and victim identification in 12 countries in Asia, and 3) a Karen refugee camp in Thailand with the United Nations Action for Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons, the International Organisation for Migration, and a local humanitarian organisation called Relief Singapore, respectively. State sovereignty and national security lie in the centre of the debate on global migration. Whether to have open border or more restrictive control depends on the state. Freedom of movement is only halfway through as we might have freedom to leave but not freedom to arrive. They conclude human worth, life, dignity, respect, human rights and tolerance form the basis for ethical and humane migration for migrants themselves as well as citizens in the hosting society.

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