The Ethics of Development-induced Displacement


  • Peter Penz



development, displacement, ethics, development policy, poverty, inequality, migration


This concluding piece on the ethics of development-induced displacement notes how all of the preceding articles find the displacement of people by development policies and projects morally objectionable and that it should be prevented. The question of why it is morally objectionable, how states attempt to justify it nevertheless, and how acceptable such justifications are, is addressed in some detail. This is a discussion that falls into the terrain of the new field of development ethics. Development's promise to reduce poverty and inequality have been used to justify large projects and disruptive policies. In assessing these justifications, three lines of ethical argument are explored, one in terms of the public interest, a second in terms of self-determination, and third in terms of distributive justice. The conclusion is that, while forced migration cannot be categorically declared unjustifiable, the conditions that must be met for its justifiability are considerable.


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How to Cite

Penz, P. (1997). The Ethics of Development-induced Displacement. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 16(3), 37–44.

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