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globalization has helped some people attain higher standards of living, it has
marginalized and impoverished many others and has resulted in environmental
degradation and the depletion of natural resources. The benefits of economic
globalization have been inequitably distributed and have not reached many people
around the world. Our vision of the world as an interconnected web challenges us
to turn from self-serving individualism toward a relational sense of ourselves
in a global community, and toward practices that help create economic structures
designed to serve the common good. We are called to bring our Unitarian
Universalist Principles to our understanding of economic globalization and to
help mitigate its adverse effects.
Economic globalization, broadly understood, is the growing global integration
not only of markets but also of systems of finance, commerce, communication,
technology, and law that bypass traditional national, cultural, ethnic, and
Proponents of economic globalization argue that it leads to more efficient
division of labor, greater specialization, increased productivity, higher
standards of living and wealth, and ultimately the end of poverty. Proponents
also argue that recent economic growth has greatly contributed to the high
standard of living enjoyed by many within the developed world and raised living
standards of many people formerly living in abject poverty. Many others have not
made such gains.
Opponents argue that economic globalization detaches markets from essential
regulations meant to protect national sovereignty, the democratic process, human
rights, labor rights, and the environment. Opponents also argue that the
policies and practices of industrialized countries and transnational
corporations drive the market forces of economic globalization. There is no
effective global regulatory system controlling economic globalization.
The rules governing economic globalization have been created through trade
agreements, international law, and institutions dominated by industrialized
countries. These rules favor those with access to capital, legitimizing measures
such as dropping tariffs, eliminating capital controls, enforcing intellectual
property rights, privatizing public services, and weakening regulations that
protect labor, health and safety, and the environment. Economic globalization is
increasingly perceived by the rest of the world as American economic
imperialism. Many Americans, accustomed to an individualistic and competitive
culture, are insensitive to the realities of abject poverty, cultural erosion,
and environmental degradation. As a result, systematic exploitation of labor and
the environment goes unnoticed as do coercive monopolistic pricing of goods and
services, criminal evasion of local legal controls, growing debt among
developing countries, widening economic disparities, and devastation of
traditional cultures. Unitarian Universalists are concerned about the
concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a corporate elite who are
dictating the terms of major economic and social parameters throughout the
world. Together these factors generate profound anger and despair that fuel
ideological and religious fundamentalism, increasing violence, and international
As people of faith, we are challenged to find ways to promote global economic
fairness while maintaining the dynamism of the marketplace. As Unitarian
Universalists, we affirm and promote:
We are challenged by the
reality that many of us work for the very institutions driving economic
globalization. We acknowledge our fears and resistance to change as we benefit
from the global economic processes that foster inequity. The transformation we
experience as we move from ignorance to knowledge and from speech to action is
not easy. Nonetheless, we are called to become competent advocates. Seeing the
world as an interconnected web challenges us to turn from self-serving
individualism toward a relational sense of ourselves in a global community, and
toward practices that help create economic structures designed to serve the
This Unitarian Universalist Association Statement of
Conscience builds upon five previous social witness statements on economic,
environmental, and labor issues adopted between 1972 and 2001. In June 2001, the
General Assembly of the UUA selected “Economic Globalization” as the issue
suggested to congregations for two years of study, action, and reflection. The
Commission on Social Witness (CSW) received initial reports from congregations
and districts in March 2002. In June 2002, the CSW held a workshop on this issue
at General Assembly. A draft Statement of Conscience was distributed to all
congregations and districts for their reflection and feedback in the fall of
2002. Comments were reviewed by the CSW at its March 2003 meeting. A revised
draft was on the final agenda of the 2003 General Assembly. A Mini-Assembly was
held on Friday afternoon, June 27, 2003, to receive proposed amendments.
Delegates of the 2003 General Assembly passed this statement with a clear
required two-thirds majority. This text is available for immediate media release
but remains unofficial until confirmed by the Board of Trustees. The text of
other UUA Statements of Conscience can be found at UUA.org and the CSW website.
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Wednesday, August 24, 2011.
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