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History of the foundation

The question of a Global Ethic stems from Professor Hans Küng's book “Global Responsibility” (1990), which was first published in English in 1991. This book developed programmatically the idea that the religions of the world can make a contribution to the peace of humankind only if they reflect on those elements of an ethic which they already have in common: on a fundamental consensus on binding values, irrevocable standards and personal attitudes.

Underlying the Global Ethic project is the basic conviction that there can be:

• No peace among the nations without peace among the religions.
• No peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions.
• No dialogue between the religions without investigation of the foundations of the religions.

The first major result of this investigation of the foundation of the religions was the “Declaration towards a Global Ethic” which was endorsed by the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1993. The draft was written by Hans Küng in the Institute for Ecumenical Research at the University of Tübingen.

With this declaration, for the first time representatives of all the religions reached agreement on principles for a global ethic and committed themselves to four irrevocable directives, which took the following concrete form:

• Commitment to a culture of non-violence and respect for life.
• Commitment to a culture of solidarity and a just economic order.
• Commitment to a culture of tolerance and a life of truthfulness.
• Commitment to a culture of equal rights and partnership between men and women.
The Global Ethic Foundation has come into being through the generosity of Count K. K. von der Groeben. In 1995 he read “Global Responsibility” and was so impressed by it that he made available a substantial sum for the dissemination of the idea of a global ethic.
+  Count K. K. von der Groeben † 

In the words of its founder, “the Foundation is to show that there are more satisfying values than material pleasure, and that to commit oneself to a lofty goal brings great joy. We must get away from the celebration of ‘self-fulfilment’ and the idea of prosperity and make it clear to people that if we are to live together in peace and freedom we need high ethical norms. Perhaps yet more people will associate themselves with our initiative. There is plenty of work and plenty to do!”
The programmatic basis of the work of the Foundation is the "Declaration toward a Global Ethic” of the Chicago Parliament of the World Religions in 1993. From this starting point, the global ethic idea has continued to develop and unfold thematically, and to be elaborated not only in the publications of the Foundation and it associates but also in various forms of media expression.
The Executive Board of the Foundation operates on a voluntary basis. The salaries of the paid members of the staff as well as the activities of the Foundation and other operating costs are financed in part by interest earned on the Foundation’s endowment, but also, and for the larger part, on continuing donations on which it depends. Thus the Global Ethic Foundation is most grateful for any support which it receives, however great or small.

© Global Ethic Foundation Tuebingen, Germany


What is a Global Ethic?
FAQ about the Global Ethic project

Declaration toward a Global Ethic

History of the foundation

Aims of the foundation


Important addresses

The board of trustees

The foundation worldwide

Supporters of the foundation