Reciprocity, Equality and International Justice

In this article I criticize a prominent account for resisting the extension of egalitarian justice to global politics. For Andrea Sangiovanni it is the reciprocity requirement generated by the provision of basic public goods that grounds egalitarian justice. Such basic public goods provision is absent internationally and this entails that egalitarian justice is only appropriate between citizens of the same political community. This article highlights the problematic empirical assumptions on which Sangiovanni's work builds. It proposes a more ample class of basic public goods necessary to act on a plan of life and maintains that whatever list we adopt, in a globalized world, basic public goods provision is often dependent on the international system. It goes on to suggest that the role of equality beyond borders is an important topic not only for relations between persons at the global level but also for inter-state interactions and that what we really should be worried about is the instrumental effects that inequality has when it comes to issues concerning poverty reduction and the shape of international regimes and institutions.

Global inequality in income and wealth both between persons and between political communities matters because it affects international efforts in poverty reduction and because it endangers the prospects for self-determination of less wealthy states.
The governance mechanisms of international institutions and organizations should not be designed to reflect differences in economic clout.
Attempts to reduce income and wealth inequality between persons globally and between political communities should be understood as a further element of international poverty-reduction strategies.