Towards a Global Ethic (An Initial Declaration)

Despite all differences, there are fundamental ethical similarities between the religions of this world: a minimal basic consensus regarding unifying values, immovable standards and moral attitudes, which forms the basis for a common global ethic. This is described in detail by Hans Küng in his book “Global Responsibility. In Search of a New World Ethic” (1991) and was recorded in 1993 in the “Declaration on the Global Ethic.”

Das Bild zeigt eine große Gruppe von Menschen in bunten Gewändern beim Parlament der Weltreligionen für Weltethos Tübingen, alle blicken in die Kamera.

Every school can become a Global Ethic School! At a Global Ethic School, teachers, students and parents learn with and from one another, growing together into a community based on Global Ethic values. The Global Ethic concept offers an umbrella under which a value-oriented school culture supported by everyone, is formed and applied. Read more about Global Ethic Schools on this page. Read more about Global Ethic Schools on this page.



The first “Parliament of the World’s Religions” took place in 1893, on the sidelines of the World Fair in Chicago. There, representatives of the world’s religions came together for the first time to exchange views on the importance of faith and spirituality in the modern world. This meeting, which until then had hardly been thought possible, marked the beginning of the modern interreligious movement. 

This event would be commemorated 100 years later, when more than 7,000 people from a wide range of religious communities and spiritual groups from around the world gathered again in Chicago. In this “second” parliament of the world’s religions, participants were asked to critically reflect upon and at the same time develop ideas about the future role of religious and spiritual communities in the search for creative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. The signing of the “Global Ethic Declaration” played a decisive role in this. But why did the Council of the Parliament of the World’s Religions venture into having such a Global Ethic Declaration drawn up? What led to this? 

Sri Chinmoy eröffnet mit Meditation das Weltparlament der Religionen in Chicago 1993.
Originally written by: D. Alaimo, no changes made
Das Bild zeigt das Logo des Parlament der Weltreligionen


During a lecture tour to Canada and the USA in 1989, Hans Küng learned of the plans for a second parliament of the world’s religions in Chicago in 1993. In his lecture at the University of Chicago, he called on the leaders of this parliament to formulate and proclaim an “ethical consensus” of religions for the first time in the history of religions. Len Swidler, a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, supported Hans Küng and wrote an appeal calling for the early drafting of a “Declaration on a Global Ethic.” Eminent theologians and religious scholars worldwide signed this document and supported this call.

In February 1992, the “Executice Director” of the Parliament of the World Religions travelled to Tübingen and asked Hans Küng to draw up a “Declaration on the Global Ethic.” Hans Küng’s drafts were discussed in Küng’s international and interreligious network; the final text was presented to the delegates of the parliament in Chicago in September 1993.



As anticipated, the draft of Küng’s text was discussed in the parliament with intensity. Despite all the different points of view and objections that were put forward, in the end it was possible for the participants to agree on a common document. It was adopted on 4 September 1993 as the “Declaration on a Global Ethic” and signed by a large number of designated delegates – above all the Dalai Lama.

In doing so, the parliament presented a visionary statement consisting of fundamental ethical principles shared by the world’s religious and humanist traditions. Based on the principles of “humanity” and “reciprocity” (the “Golden Rule”), this declaration states the values of non-violence, justice, truthfulness and partnership.

At the 8th Parliament of World Religions in Toronto (2018), the Global Ethic Declaration was expanded to include a fifth directive on “ecological responsibility” as a common desideratum of the world’s religions. In doing so, the parliament is taking into account the global social and political discussions on climate change.

Das Bild zeig eine große Leinwand hinter der Bühne bei der Plenumsveranstaltung beim 8. Parlament der Weltrelgionen in Toronto für Weltethos Tübingen.



At the 1993 Parliament, an editorial committee of the Parliament’s “Council” drafted an “Introduction” for journalistic purposes as a summary of the Global Ethic Declaration, which was then preceded by the actual declaration. This text was also read out publicly at the public closing ceremony on 4 September 1993.

The world is in agony. The agony is so pervasive and urgent that we are compelled to name its manifestations so that the depth of this pain may be made clear.

Peace eludes us…the planet is being destroyed…neighbors live in fear…women and men are estranged from each other…children die! This is abhorrent!

We condemn the abuses of Earth’s ecosystems.

We condemn the poverty that stifles life’s potential; the hunger that weakens the human body; the economic disparities that threaten so many families with ruin.

We condemn the social disarray of the nations; the disregard for justice which pushes citizens to the margin; the anarchy overtaking our communities; and the insane death of children from violence. In particular we condemn aggression and hatred in the name of religion.

But this agony need not be. It need not be because the basis for an ethic already exists. This ethic offers the possibility of a better individual and global order, and leads individuals away from despair and societies away from chaos.

We are women and men who have embraced the precepts and practices of the world’s religions:

We affirm that a common set of core values is found in the teachings of the religions, and that these form the basis of a global ethic.

We affirm that this truth is already known, but yet to be lived in heart and action.

We affirm that there is an irrevocable, unconditional norm for all areas of life, for families and communities, for races, nations, and religions. There already exist ancient guidelines for human behavior which are found in the teachings of the religions of the world and which are the condition for a sustainable world order.

We are interdependent. Each of us depends on the well-being of the whole, and so we have respect for the community of living beings, for people, animals, and plants, and for the preservation of Earth, the air, water, and soil.

We take individual responsibility for all we do. All our decisions, actions, and failures to act have consequences. We take individual responsibility for all we do. All our decisions, actions, and failures to act have consequences.

We must treat others as we wish others to treat us. We make a commitment to respect life and dignity, individuality and diversity, so that every person is treated humanely, without exception. We must have patience and acceptance. We must be able to forgive, learning from the past but never allowing ourselves to be enslaved by memories of hate. Opening our hearts to one another, we must sink our narrow differences for the cause of our world community, practicing a culture of solidarity and relatedness.

We consider humankind our family. We must strive to be kind and generous. We must not live for ourselves alone, but should also serve others, never forgetting the children, the aged, the poor, the suffering, the disabled, the refugees, and the lonely. No person should ever be considered or treated as a second-class citizen, or be exploited in any way whatsoever. There should be equal partnership between men and women. We must not commit any kind of sexual immorality. We must put behind us all forms of domination or abuse.

We commit ourselves to a culture of non-violence, respect, justice and peace. We shall not oppress, injure, torture or kill other human beings, forsaking violence as a means of settling differences.

We must strive for a just social and economic order, in which everyone has an equal chance to reach full potential as a human being. We must speak and act truthfully and with compassion, dealing fairly with all, and avoiding prejudice and hatred. We must not steal. We must move beyond the dominance of greed for power, prestige, money, and consumption to make a just and peaceful world.

Earth cannot be changed for the better unless the consciousness of individuals is changed first. We pledge to increase our awareness by disciplining our minds, by meditation, by prayer, or by positive thinking. Without risk and a readiness to sacrifice there can be no fundamental change in our situation. Therefore we commit ourselves to this global ethic, to understanding one another, and to socially beneficial, peace-fostering, and nature-friendly ways of life.

We invite all people, whether religious or not, to do the same.