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World Human Rights Day: A Reflection

By Andy Good, Member of the Executive Committee, Fair Trade Association of Australia & New Zealand | Blog, News |

World Human Rights Day, 10 December

Somewhere over the last two years, in the wearying public discourse of pandemic mandates and ‘freedoms’, we seem to have lost sight of underlying human values. Social media highlights and monetises minority voices highlighting individualism whilst the quiet majority struggles on. Most of us have done what we can, abiding by the best public health advice our privileged society provides, whilst navigating a stormy sea of opinion.

Our underlying Human Rights were first codified 70 years ago. Last week we celebrated United Nations Human Rights Day (10 December), to mark the day our global family agreed, though our nation states collectively around the UN table, to add their signature to the Universal Declaration.

However business can still violate these Rights in the competitive race for cheap product.

  • Low or intermittent income or wages suppress living standards leading to poor health, hunger and lack of educational opportunity.

  • Practices of child labour or forced labour go unchallenged.

  • Discrimination against women is systemic.

  • Health and Safety hazards are ignored.

  • Self-determination and choice are restricted by land misuse or lack of water access.

In our own small way, the Fair Trade Movement, born as it has been in the decades since, was built on those foundations. Our 10 Fair Trade Principles were conceptualised around these Values. Our belief was that business was both a tool for wealth accumulation and livelihood but also exploitation of workers and farmers due to power imbalances.

Do you know how the 10 Fair Trade Principles align with Universal Human Rights?

  • Principles 1, 2, 3 and 4: Creating Opportunities for disadvantage producers.

  • Principles 5: No child or Forced labour.

  • Principle 6: No discrimination, gender equity and empowerment.

  • Principle 7: Good Working Conditions.

  • Principle 8 & 10: Capacity building and respect for the environment.

Many fair trade businesses seek a third party audit or assessment against their practice to prove to shoppers that they do ‘walk the talk’, and seek an equitable distribution of value from their transactions, a positive and empowering impact at the base of their supply chain and, above all, demonstration that they live and operate their business by Universal Human Values. Above all to provide proof of concept: there is another way to do business.

Seek out products from Fair Trader of Australia endorsement or displaying the Fairtrade Mark.

Happy Human Rights Day to all our friends and stakeholders in the movement.

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