International ethics encompasses the constructive navigation between two entities separated by dissimilar cultures, ethnic groups, and religious beliefs. It was field that did not emerge until the 1990’s. (Enderle, 1) The main points presented in this essay are 1) regulations, 2) religious beliefs, and 3) politics. The way these affect the international ethics of Saudi Arabia and the USA will be discussed. According to Prados (11), both nations rely heavily on each other because of economic dependence. Saudi Arabia was the United States second largest trading partner in the Middle East in 2002.
(Prados, 11) Both have a joint concern for regional security, oil exports and imports, and maintainable development. As such, the close ties of United States and Saudi Arabia warrant a close examination of ethical concerns that may arise between them. One difference seen is in the business ethics applied by both countries. Alex Zalami noted in one of his interviews that regulations were a strict distinction between the two countries. In the United States, for instance, the presence of regulatory frameworks that encourage the development of ethics programs in businesses is commonplace.
An example of a regulatory framework that exists in the United States is the regulations concerning post-employment conflicts of interest. These may involve regulations of not accepting any form of gift that could affect the decisions one makes in the workplace. Any such gifts especially those of high monetary value from a competitor, for example, could detract from the integrity of the office or the individual. As such, regulations are put in place to discourage or even to prohibit receiving of the like.
Another example is the regulations for independent contractors as provided for by both the company’s Board of Directors as well as by the US Office of Government Ethics. (Lewis & Kushner, 109) Independent contractors are individuals who are not considered by the company as employees and as such can not take part of company benefits given to employees. In order to prevent abuse of such a workforce, a company’s Board of Directors and the US Office of Government Ethics have strict criteria or regulations for the categorization of independent contractors.
These regulations may include an assessment of the employers’ right to control the contractor; for example, if the company had the right to hire or fire the contractor or had the right to control the work schedule or employment conditions. In Saudi Arabia, points out Alex Zalami, such formal regulatory frameworks are not available. Ethics in business are incorporated as a by-product of the drive for development of a particular company. Another difference that exists between the two countries’ ethics, as noted by Zalami, is religion.
Saudi Arabia is a region deeply rooted in Islam thus ethical conducts are based on the ideologies of Islam. Human rights, discrimination, even profit in business are founded on the teachings of this religion. For example, in Islamic banking, there is an avoidance of charging interests on loans. In the United States, however, there is plurality in religious beliefs. As a result, ethical issues are not so much based on a specific religious ideology but rather on general moral principles of society.
Another strong issue between the US and Saudi Arabia is their political agenda. The politics of both nations are as rooted into their systems as their culture. Therefore, the ethics practiced by both are highly dependent on the political morality both nations have. (Amstutz, 12) Also, the fact that Saudi Arabia is an oligarchy while US is a presidential republic contributes many differences to their ethical systems. These differences are shown in the fact that crimes in Saudi Arabia can be punished corporally. Robbing can be punished with amputation or flogging.
In the United States, on the other hand, the constitution and the republic’s laws have clear statutes regarding punishment of crimes. Punishment for robbery may only include imprisonment and social work. Corporal and capital punishments are only allowed in certain crimes at certain locations within the country. Even with the punishment of crimes, the political backgrounds of the two countries clearly show a discrepancy. There are numerous differences in the international ethics of the United States and Saudi Arabia.
These differences stem from special categories such as regulatory conditions, religion, and politics. The effects of these differences are varied and are obvious in the behavior of both countries in different aspects. The study of the differences in the international ethics between both countries may lead to a better and more productive relationship between the two. This is shown more clearly when one takes into consideration the fact that there are indeed far-reaching implications that come because of the said differences between Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Amstutz, Mark R. International Ethics: Concepts, Theories, and Cases in Global Politics. 2nd ed. Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. Enderle, Georges. International Business Ethics. Notre Dame, Ind. : University of Notre Dame Press, 1999. Lewis, Stuart M. , & Kushner, Michael G. ERISA related statutes. Washington DC: BNA Books, 1995. Prados, Alfred B. “Saudi Arabia: current issues and U. S. relations” September 15, 2003. Congressional Research Service. 15 March 2003 <http://fpc. state. gov/documents/organization/24673. pdf> Zalami, Alex. Personal interview. June 28, 2006.