null Newsletter No2 / 2012

March 2012

 In this issue

  • Research/Projects
    Global Ethics Forum 2012: more than 50 speakers from all continents. Register Now!
    Ethics in politics is possible
Editorial by Thomas Schoenberger 

Business rights or human rights?


On 13 March 2012 I had the opportunity to attend a side event at the 19th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on the topic of “Business and Human Rights”. Listening to the speakers from the United States, one question came to my mind; are business rights compatible with human rights or do they exclude each other?
In a (business) society that is increasingly determined by the greedy search for profit and by the commitment to modern meritocracy, where competition starts in the crèche and striving for power rules a significant amount of professional life, in such a society human rights mostly end where our own interests or business rights begin.
These conditions on the micro-level reflect, to a certain extent, the events on the macro-level, where major banks and multinational corporations have brought the game to the highest level of perfection. Banks are not squeamish about dealing with disreputable clients; major enterprises shift their production to regions where exploitation of labour is less restricted and unethical trade and currency practices gain power at the expense of others. The advantages for the company or state outweigh individual interests of people.
So, how can we overcome this corrosive circle and get rid of this “eat or be eaten” mentality? Or to put the question in the words of the Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff, “The opposite of poverty is not wealth — it is justice. The objective […] is to create a more just society, not necessarily a wealthier one. And the great question is how do we do this?” A central claim of the Occupy movement is to strengthen democratic processes and this is only possible if political decision makers are in favour of supporting such a transformation. However, as we all know, the mills of politics grind slowly, and what seems obvious at first sight becomes tricky when international trade relationships, jobs or the next election campaign are at stake.
However, the recent protests throughout Europe and in the USA and increasingly the dissatisfaction among young citizens ought to make the politicians sit up and try to implement appropriate measures in order to serve 99% of the people rather than 1% of the elite.
The newly launched book and declaration (english / français) on "Ethics in Politics" could be seen as a first step towards attempting to build a new and more equal system. There is no doubt that such a change of paradigm will take time and the commitment of political and international bodies. We need to implement ethics in politics and a monitoring system whereby investigations into abuses perpetrated by businesses and human rights abuses will be fought with equal intensity. Only then shall we be able to claim that human rights are compatible with business rights. 

Thomas Schoenberger, Research Assistant, 


Global Ethics Forum 2012: more than 50 speakers. Register now!

The debt crisis, after Rio+20, ethics in finance, value-based staff recruitment, solving professional business dilemma, social media for peace, transparency in religious organizations: these are some of the themes where the conference looks for practical solutions. The Global Ethics Forum project organized by aims at providing a platform for dialogue and leadership as well as for action to the private sector and to all stakeholders on issues related to ethics and sustainable development in all sectors worldwide. From 28 to 30 June 2012 in Geneva/Switzerland, following the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, the Global Ethics Forum 2012 will focus on the value of values as seeds for ethical transformation in politics, business, and society towards a sustainable future. The updated programme of the Forum is available on the site at

Forum Co-chairs
This year preparations for the Forum will benefit from the advice and support of two international Co-chairs who join Ambassador Walter Fust, President of and Co-chair of the Global Ethics Forum. It is our great pleasure to introduce Judge Mervyn King, Chairman of the International Integrated Reporting Committee (IIRC), author of the King Code on Corporate Governance for South Africa and the Commonwealth,  Mr. S.D. Shibulal, CEO and Co-founder of Infosys Technologies, one of the largest Indian IT Companies, whose exceptional career and powerful leadership are rooted in a strong commitment to the value of ethics. In our next newsletters (April May, and June 2012) each of the Co-chairs will respond to a few questions and share thoughts about the Global Ethics Forum 2012.

Register now to benefit from early bird rates
The deadline for early bird registration for the Global Ethics Forum 2012 is 11 May. Do make sure that you register at before the deadline to benefit. We would like to remind that in many cases it takes up to two months to obtain a visa for Switzerland and hotel rooms have to be booked early in international Geneva, so please register early in order to avoid complications.

Please be informed that does not cover lodging expenses, travel nor meals of the Forum participants. For those who are looking for funding to attend the conference, we recommend the site where they can explore and approach immediately on their own according to their specific needs and situation. Additional information concerning other possible sponsorship opportunities is provided on the site at

Thanks to all of you who have registered. Please spread the word throughout your networks and tell your friends to join us at the Global Ethics Forum 2012 in Geneva/Switzerland from 28 to 30 June 2012.

Ethics in politics is possible

Key political challenges today are global. Rising to these challenges requires more than parochial politics based on short-term interest or ad-hoc solutions. Globalisation makes all societies interdependent. Climate change makes all societies accountable to generations as yet unborn. Financial crisis and the recklessness of bankers demand international standards and rules, together with the political will and the mechanisms to enforce them. Deep economic disparities, even more than disasters, natural and human-made, drive waves of international migration that cannot be stilled by single-country action or stopped by border walls. Corruption eats deep into societies and spreads its tentacles around the globe. Terrorism and organised crime challenge the rule of law and undermine democratic participation.

Such concerns underlie a declaration and a book on ethics in politics launched by in Geneva on Thursday 8 March.

It may be that, as politics currently is played, the long-term interests of humankind are simply beyond the reach of today’s rulers, citizens, associations and businesses. This does not mean turning our back on politics, scorning it as irredeemably bad, or treating it as a necessary evil. Nor does it mean seeking salvation in illusions: the soaring rhetoric of the political campaign differs from the reality of government. Least of all does it mean diluting political power and responsibility. We need more political responsibility, not less; but we need to include all players. People have the right, as well as the responsibility, to participate with power in the decisions that affect their lives.

The book and declaration argue for an ethical politics that adds the value of values to politics but reject dogmatism and intolerance, remaining pragmatic and orientated towards results. Decisions need to reconcile and set priorities between such values as equity, security, sustainability and the rule of law. Justice is at the centre.

More information and links to the book are here.

News from the International SecretariatBusiness and human rights and the United Nations system


This letter from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights invites interested parties to provide input to a report by the UN Secretary-General on how the United Nations system as a whole, including programmes and funds and specialized agencies, can contribute to the advancement of the business and human rights agenda and the dissemination and implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, addressing in particular how capacity-building of all relevant actors to this end can best be addressed within the United Nations system.

The report is mandated by UN Human Rights Council resolution 17/4 and will be presented at the Council's 21st session.

The deadline for input for the report is 26 March 2012 to be sent to

Newsletter: appeal for translators

We would like to offer the newsletter in other languages, especially French and Spanish. We are looking for volunteers that would be willing to help us in this task. If you have some time, please do get in touch with us and also specify which language:  We thank you in advance and look forward to hearing from you.

The Libraries

New collection on Islamic ethics launched has launched a new Islamic ethics collection for its Global Digital Library on Ethics. The collection contains more than 550 full text documents on Islamic ethics in English and Indonesian as well as in Arabic, and aims to provide essential documents about Islam and Islamic ethics in particular.  The collection offers a new model for sharing Islamic knowledge and resources across national and cultural barriers in order to make the diversity within Islamic thought and practice more visible and documents accessible for a global community.

The collection has been coordinated in Geneva by library assistant Thomas Schönberger and by Indonesia n Yogyakarta, by research assistant, Ferry Siregar and programme executive Nina Mariani Noor, two doctoral students specialised in the topic. They comment on the fascinating work on the collection:

Thomas Schönberger: "I have been interested for a long time in dialogue among religions, and, in particular, Christian-Muslim relations and the perception of Islam. During the last two decades there has been an increase in the negative image of Muslims and Islam, especially in Europe and the United States. In these regions Islam is often perceived as the “other”, but in making generalisations and blaming an entire community (for) the acts of a few individuals, we fail to grasp the peaceful and pluralistic character of a religion with 1.5 billion believers. There is no doubt, in an increasingly diverse and heterogeneous society, eliminating prejudices and promoting respect and understanding is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st Century. It was exciting to undertake research on this important topic, to approach Islamic scholars, institutions and communities all over the world - moreover to collaborate with the team in Indonesia to whom I am very thankful. This gave me the opportunity to get a glimpse of the comprehensive ethical sources and countless Islamic content resources that are available on this issue. The current collection is a first step towards attempting to improve the perception of Islam; at the same time it is clear that it represents only a very small part of the whole. In this sense the launch should mark a beginning and be seen as an invitation to Islamic universities, organisations and individuals to contribute in order improve the quality and quantity of the content."

Ferry Siregar said: "Getting new experience in the Indonesia as a research assistant made me know more about sources for the collection of Islamic ethics. Besides, there are several tasks of mine in Globethics including how to learn about and contact organizations and writers of Islamic ethics collection worldwide. I am really grateful and appreciate the initial target for launching the Islamic ethics collection on time. It is in line with the International Conference on Contemporary Islamic Ethics (ICCIE) on March 15, 2012 in Yogyakarta Indonesia.  The attendance of Prof. Christoph in this ICCIE made a more global, international impression for this conference. Thank you for and GE Indonesia, especially Prof. Christoph, Dr. Brown, Ms. Siti, Nina Ma'am, Ma'am Ninik, and Thomas. Thank you for your very good cooperation and support. May God bless us all. Amen."

Nina Mariani Noor: "Working for as Programme Executive is such a fruitful experience for me. I am learning many useful and new things here. The efforts and the work done on Islamic ethics Collection really enrich my knowledge on Islamic ethics from many different denominations. Besides that, working together with Ferry and Ninik in Indonesia and with Thomas and Stephen in Geneva make me realize that communication, coordination and understanding are really needed to make a work succeed. Therefore, I would like to thank all for their hard work. We are a great team!"

Link to the collection:

People wishing to contribute to this project by submitting documents or suggesting relevant content on Islamic ethics are invited to contact programme executive Dr. Stephen Brown at  

New library collections

Other new library collections developed by include:

Ecumenical Theological Education
This is a collection of documents related to the Ecumenical Theological Education (ETE) programme of the World Council of Churches. Link to the collection:

Institute for Business Ethics St Gallen/Switzerland
This collection contains documents from the Institute of Business Ethics in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Link to the collection:

Robin Cosgrove Ethics in Finance
This collection contains selected essays submitted for the Robin Cosgrove Prize, named after a young investment banker who died in an accident on Mont Blanc. For him, trust was the essence of good banking. But he feared that many young finance professionals were losing touch with the fundamentals. He set his life goal to promote better understanding of the critical importance of trust, ethics and personal and corporate integrity. Link to the collection:

Collections in preparation include one on Health Ethics and another for the Senate of Serampore College (University) following the signing in February of a partnership with the senate to integrate documents and publications from the Senate of Serampore and its 50 affiliated theological colleges in India.

Farewell bids farewell to Thomas Schönberger who has worked as a library assistant for seven months, mainly during the maternity leave of Amélie Vallotton Preisig. Thomas has been a mainstay of the library administration and in particular has played an invaluable role in coordinating the newly-founded Islamic Ethics Collection. Thomas is a social and cultural anthropologist currently registered as a PhD student in Vienna. His fields of research are Islam in Austria and Europe, Islamophobia and interreligious dialogue. wishes Thomas every success in his future plans. Network

A growing ethics network

The Network will these days reach 50’000 participants! Participants are from all over the world from 200 countries interested in a large variety of topics in the field of ethics.

The graphic lists the 10 countries where most of the participants are from. We receive numerous comments daily, in particular on our Facebook page, for which we are very grateful. We are constantly working hard on improving the services on our online platform. It is therefore encouraging to receive your comments but also important to help us develop our offer.

"Looking for solid ethics discussion and information? is the place!"

You can search the participants by choosing the Network Menu, then Search the Network and then Search the participants as shown in the pictures below. You want to know how many participants are registered in from your country? Choose your country in the drop down menu and hit search. You can also choose your language with the flags on the top right.

The 5th ISBEE World Congress
Tradition and New Horizons: Towards the Virtue of Responsibility

Register now! Early bird discount is available till 15 May 2012

The Congress
The ISBEE (International Society of Business, Economics, and Ethics) World Congress, referred to as the ‘Olympics of Business Ethics’, has been held every four years since 1996. It has always succeeded in attracting the best minds in the field of business ethics. The Congress provides a forum for business and academics to grapple with some of the most pressing ethical issues facing businesses all over the world, and the new horizons coming from business ethics research to fill a wide range of social expectations. The Fifth ISBEE World Congress will be an important part of academic and practical contributions to the worldwide initiatives on promoting ethical conduct. The 2012 World Congress will be hosted by Kozminski University – internationally renowned private business school, ranked by the Financial Times as the best business school in Central and Eastern Europe.

The Congress Mission
Today the world’s people and their leaders face a complex and multi-faceted set of ‘responsibility questions’. The 2012 Fifth ISBEE Congress will look to identify key directions for future research that address the complexity of global challenges and possible solutions. It will serve as an inspiration-sharing platform around the vital area of responsibility.
The ISBEE World Congress should be an important event on every level for the whole academic world dealing with business ethics; as well as an opportunity to exchange deep insights on different challenges and to start fruitful co-operation between academics and research institutions from all over the world. It is an important part of our contribution to the European wide initiatives on promoting ethical conduct.

The Congress Theme
Some firms find it increasingly important to meet the expectations of different stakeholders with respect to the company’s contribution to profit, planet and people. This interaction between companies and various stakeholders constitutes a third mechanism that supplements the shortcomings of the market mechanism and government regulation in serving the well-being of the society.
Hence, the main Congress subject is: "Tradition and new horizons: towards the virtue of responsibility", its different streams include:
•    The Art of Teaching Business Ethics
•    Ethical Leadership
•    Global Perspectives on Business and Economic Ethics
•    Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability
•    Environmental Political Philosophy
•    Business Ethics in Transition Countries
•    New Horizons in Business and Ethics.

The Congress Programme
Lech Walesa, former President of Poland and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, is the Special Guest at the opening of ISBEE Congress.

Day 1 – art of teaching business ethics moderated by  Janne B. Ciulla, University of Richmond, USA and professional development workshop for junior scholars - Prof. Laura J. Spence, School of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
Day 2 - virtue of responsibility with keynote speaker Prof. Klaus Leisinger, President and Managing Director of the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development.
Day 3 - ethical leadership with keynote speech from one of the main consultant in strategic management Prof. Eric Cornuel, from HEC, Paris, Director General & CEO of European Foundation for Management Development in Brussels.
Day 4 - new horizons in business and ethics – the key speech will be delivered by Professor Hermann Simon, the founder and chairman of Simon-Kucher & Partners Strategy & Marketing Consultants. 
For the full Congress Programme please click here.

Fees and registration
The list of Congress fees can be found here. Special congress fee is available to members of ISBEE, EBEN or partner organizations. Register now and benefit of an early bird discount (available till 15 May 2012).
The registration is available through the on-line registration form only. To register for the Fifth ISBEE World Congress 2012 click here.


News from the Regional Programmes

East-Africa: translations in Swahili and Kinyarwanda Regional Programme in East-Africa is the youngest of our regional programmes. It has been cultivating the network in the region, shaping up with activities such as essay competition and information workshops as well as with content development for the library.  We are happy to provide you here with translations in Swahili and Kinyarwanda of key documents of

Portrait of (Kinyarwanda / Swahili)

Brief description of the East- Africa Regional Programme (Kinyarwanda / Swahili)

Vision and Mission (Kinyarwanda / Swahili)

Ethical Profile (Kinyarwanda / Swahili)

The translations are available on the website, in each respective section.


International Conference: Challenges in Islamic ethics

"Contemporary Islamic Ethics – key challenges" was the theme of an international Conference in Yogyakarta/Indonesia on 15 March 2012, co-organized by the International Consortium for Religious Studies ICRS, the partner of Indonesia. Scholars from Indonesia, Iran and Europe undertook the search for an Islamic ethics that is faithful to the Qu’ran and finds meaningful solutions for today’s economic, environmental and bioethical challenges.

Islamic ethics, as all fields of ethics based on religion is confronted with the challenge to be faithful to their holy scriptures and at the same time being able to include rational reasoning in order to communicate with non-faith-based, philosophical and secular ethics. Two Iranian scholars showed the spectrum of debate on it within Islamic traditions.

Islamic ethics can and has to contribute to practical solutions such as social action, fair trade, anticorruption and governance issues, bioethics and human rights, farmers’ rights, water protection and gender ethics, as was shown in contributions from Indonesian scholars.

The Director of, Christoph Stueckelberger, in his presentation compared “Islamic and Christian Ethics in Economy and Environment” (the PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded from the library). He showed that there are profoundly similar values in the Qu’ran and in the Bible on banking ethics with its care for the community and the poor. In environmental ethics, in both religions the human being is seen as Khalifa/steward who has the obligation to care for the entrusted resources in God’s creation.


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