Principles and Values


Principles and Values that were tagged under Agency, Self-determination, or Participation generally dealt with the right of peoples or individual persons to determine their own political status, economic, social, and cultural development, or their own personal development. Additionally, Participation was tagged under documents or paragraphs that discussed ideas or concepts such as democracy, participation in the political process, or the right of peoples to take part in the conduct of public affairs.


Common Good/General Welfare

The Common Good and General Welfare were used as legal and CST ideas when the text discussed similar concepts. The common good, as opposed to particular good, was tagged anytime documents discussed the life of the community as a whole and its flourishing. General welfare was used in cases where the state, government, or other actors had a responsibility to ensure the well-being of the polis, or to justify derogations of rights for such a purpose.  


Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility was tagged whenever the human rights implications of businesses were brought up. This was construed very broadly and could include texts dealing with the accountability of businesses for violations of rights, the safety and working conditions of workers, of their products, or of their operations, and transparency of businesses practices. In CST documents, paragraphs were tagged with this whenever the Church addressed the moral or ethical role of businesses.



Culture was tagged anytime texts dealt with ethnic, religious, linguistic, artistic concepts. Legal documents tagged with culture generally protected the right of minorities to live according their traditions, protection of indigenous peoples, or the role of the arts and sciences in human development. CST documents generally dealt with the same concepts but added an emphasis of the Church’s role in contributing to growing, preserving, and encountering other cultures, as well as the transcendent element of culture.



Documents or paragraphs tagged with Democracy dealt with both the political form of government, as well as the participatory processes that are inherent in democracies (but may not necessarily be adapted by all political regimes). Here is where documents tagged with democracy was generally tagged alongside Participation, but not every text tagged with Participation was tagged with Democracy. Under international standards, the right of citizens was guaranteed to take part in public affairs, have elections, and to have access to public service, but different countries may allow those processes without being full-fledged democracies. In CST documents, democracy dealt with all of these concepts but also included the Church’s reflections on the moral or ethical value of certain political systems, their limitations, and areas to build upon.


Development/Human Flourishing/Integral Human Development

Development deals with the advancement of different areas conducive to the betterment of human life and the attainment of humankind’s highest ends.

  1. Spiritual – Concerns the development of the person in one’s spiritual dimensions, including consideration of one’s eternal end and God’s plan of salvation.
  2. Social – Development that is concerned with the full development of the human personality and the conditions that enable the proper relationships between members of society.
  3. Economic – Development that concerns the material aspects of one’s wellbeing. This includes, but is not limited to, the proper conditions in which one works, one’s wages, the ability to join a union, and to provide a livelihood for one’s family. Economic development also concerns the material progress of the community and the world, and the policies that enable a balanced development in all economic sectors.
  4. Environmental – The development of the material worl In CST this includes God’s intent for Creation and humanity’s flourishing within it.



Diversity was used in the database in a broad sense. It not only dealt with diversity in terms of race, ethnic groups, or nationalities but also included, for example, diversity of faiths and diversity of thought. Thus, documents tagged in this area include topics such as dialogue among peoples, inter-faith efforts, and respect/tolerance for minorities, including religious minorities.


Ecological Responsibility/Environmental Sustainability

Documents tagged in this area implicated care, concern, and stewardship over the natural world. International documents tagged in this area generally dealt with the technical or scientific aspects of that, while CST documents in the area included the concept of “human ecology.” Thus, CST documents tagged under this area incorporated a broader and overarching understanding of “creation,” the material world, and the interrelated of the human environment and the natural environment.



Documents tagged under Equality dealt with the principle in multiple senses. For example, paragraphs could define the idea of equality among human persons in the strictly biological or natural sense. CST documents generally derived this from the Imago Dei. On the other hand, international legal documents also incorporated equality in the juridical sense, meaning that persons were equal “under the law” or to be treated similarly in the court systems. This is related also to social/political equality. Equality also recognized the cleavages in the concept in economic terms with either equality of outcome (outcomes are the same) or equality of opportunity (means are the same).



Freedom in this area, as opposed to how it is used in the Rights/Freedoms section of the Database, approaches the topic from a more philosophical and metaphysical perspective. This includes discussions on the corresponding duties to particular rights, how we should exercise freedom, the ways in which it can be limited (legally speaking, derogations), and the source of freedom. Ultimately, CST sees freedom as a gift from God to be exercised in responsible ways to uplift and build the individual personality and the human family.


Human Dignity

Documents tagged with human dignity relate to the idea that human beings have inherent dignity, which provides the basis for inalienable rights of all members of the human family and is the foundation and basis for other rights. The section is divided into ontological claims which present various foundations for dignity (secular, theological, or other), relational claims (i.e., what dignity means for how we treat ourselves and others), and state and individual relational claims (what dignity means for how a state treats its citizens and others).



Documents tagged under this relate to different types of justice. In CST, this dealt traditionally with three different types of justice: commutative justice, distributive justice, and social justice. Commutative justice deals with fairness in agreements and exchanges between individuals and private social groups. Distributive justice tags deals with allocations of income, wealth, and power in a society ensure basic material needs are met. Social justice means that economic-social developments ought to be so distributed among persons and classes to the common advantage of all. Other concepts such as restorative justice, the rule of law, and transitional justice are also found in this section.



Documents tagged under peace generally refer to the maintenance of peace and security in the world, including collective measures to prevent and remove threats to peace, the suppression of acts of aggression, and peaceful settlement of disputes which may threaten international peace and security. Topics discussed under this section include conflict prevention, conflict processes, post-conflict reconciliation/transitional justice, just-war theory, and pacifism/non-violence. CST documents tagged under peace go beyond peace as an absence of conflict but looks at the spiritual dimension and how to live in right relationship with others and promote harmony among all nations.


Preferential Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

The Preferential Option for the Poor refers to the special claim that the poor have to assistance. It is based on the Gospel precepts that those more fortunate should renounce some of their rights as to place their goods more generously at the service of others. Documents tagged under this area relate to the needs of the poor, the rights of workers, the preservation of the environment, and the necessity of meeting social needs over industrial or military purposes, or the maximization of profits against all other interests. 



Documents tagged under Security relate to the need to ensure protection from dangers and threats, whether that be to states or to individuals. The UN Charter states that one of the purposes of the UN is to “maintain international peace and security” and sets out various international legal obligations on the appropriate use of force or other dispute settlement means. However, security in the broad sense may relate to the integrity of borders, the prevention of terrorism, cybercrime, trafficking, etc. CST documents on security generally balance state concerns such as the aforementioned with the need to respect human dignity and the rights of persons and families.



This topic deals with two concepts that are similar but have slightly different emphases. Solidarity is a concept based in CST that promote a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good, to the good of all and of each individual because we are responsible for all. It is a moral and social attitude that calls upon each member of society to recognize one another as persons and feel responsibility for weaker members. On the other hand, cooperation is normally used in the context of nation-states cooperating with each other. This relates to solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character. While they both have communal emphases, the locus on the action of cooperation or solidarity is different: one is personal and local (or national), while the other takes on a more international character.



Subsidiarity is the principle of respect and autonomy between the state and lower (i.e., subsidiary) organs of society such as civil society, the family, the church, businesses, etc. The classic exposition of this principle is found in Pope Pius XI’s encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno: “Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do” (79). Additionally, subsidiarity is also a legal principle of organization for some international organizations. This requires that decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizens or by whichever entities may best achieve the desired goal.