Sovereign Wealth Funds and Global Justice

Ethics and International Affairs 27 (4):413-428 (2013)
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Dozens of countries have established Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) in the last decade or so, in the majority of cases employing those funds to manage the large revenues gained from selling resources such as oil and gas on a tide of rapidly rising commodity prices. These funds have raised a series of ethical questions, including just how the money contained in such funds should eventually be spent. This article engages with that question, and specifically seeks to connect debates on SWFs with debates onglobaljustice. Just how good are national claims to the great wealth contained in SWFs in the first place? Using the example of Norway's very large SWF – derived from selling North-Sea petroleum – I show that national claims are at least sometimes very weak, with the implication that the wealth in many such funds is ripe for redistribution in the interests of global justice. I conclude by offering some guidance for how the money contained in such funds could best be spent, with the goal of advancing global justice.


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