Ethics or Ethical values, have been one of the most important topics of philosophical inquiry, since the beginning of human civilization. It is because they form one of the pillars of human civilization itself.
In its essence, Ethics or Ethical values means the ability to distinguish the right behaviour from the wrong behaviour; and to choose right behaviour over the wrong. Human beings realized the importance of Ethics, because without good, ethical behaviour there is no meaning to civilization. If as a whole the society follows good Ethics, then the social structure is maintained and the society progresses. If Ethics are not followed, on the other hand, then the social fabric breaks down; crime and illegal behaviours of all kinds destroy civilization.
Everyone in society wants to progress in all areas of life. Everyone wants to find their means for happiness. This can mean various things to various people. But it is important to follow certain disciplines and to respect each other while doing so. For e.g. if one person decides he needs a car to be happy, and so decides to steal it from his neighbour, then that is unethical behaviour. And if this behaviour is not curtailed immediately, then soon it becomes the law of the land. Hence it is important to discipline unethical behaviour and to promote ethical behaviour. Because both behaviours start with an individual. If one individual respects the other, he elicits respect for himself in return; and the opposite is equally true as well.
Ethical values are a multi-dimensional topic. They can have a personal and family dimension. For e.g. vegetarian diet and respect for animals might be the ethical code of one family, which may not be the same with another family. There are some social dimensions to ethical behaviour too. For e.g. you cannot throw trash or you cannot dirty public property. You should the dustbins. These are social ethics, that are common for all individuals and families. There are some regional or national or global dimensions to ethics too. And then there are some legal limitations to ethical values, crossing which can lead to crimes.
With all their dimensions, Ethical values are the basis of human civilization.