Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fair Trade Celebrates Human Rights Day on December 10th, 2011!!!

As a global movement we all agree Fair Trade aims to Empower disadvantaged producers and their communities. Our shared principles reflect business practices which are free from exploitation and based on respect for universal human rights, women's rights, child rights, minority and migrant rights, rights of the disabled, and labour rights. When we examine Fair Trade closely it becomes evident the underpinnings of our global movement are the United Nations Conventions on Human Rights and the internationally recognized conventions of the International Labour Organization (Read A Rights-Based Approach to Fair Trade: Human Rights Framework). Succinctly stated, without these international conventions, there would be no solid foundation for Fair Trade.

Over the past several posts I have been emphasizing the importance of integrating a Rights-Based Approach to Fair Trade as a means of empowerment. When an organization utilizes a Rights-Based Approach they recognize poverty as injustice and includes marginalization, discrimination, and exploitation as central causes of poverty. To integrate a Rights-Based Approach is to strengthen our trade partners not only in trade relations, but in their quality of life; to enjoy the freedoms internationally recognized as inherent to all human beings.  

Longwe's Women's Empowerment Framework
Read: Women's Empowerment and Fair Trade

The crucial step towards empowerment is raising awareness of these rights, to include women's rights. Unfortunately, the fact remains that for many of our producers their rights are not well known; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains an abstract idea, an international convention far from their immediate reality. Admittedly, the same is true for many Fair Trade supporters, retailers, importers, buyers and consumers. It is time for change. 

On Saturday, December 10, 2011 the world celebrates Human Rights Day. Considering the strong ties to our global movement, Fair Trade should be leading the way in recognizing the importance of this day! Regardless if you are a Fair Trade producer group, an importer, a coffee roaster, or a retailer, let's celebrate this day of international recognition of our human rights! 

Here are a few suggestions to celebrate Human Rights day locally. These suggestions are for all Fair Traders regardless of where you reside! 

Decorate! Click here to download UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights visual designs for Human Rights day in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish! 

Display! Click here for videos on human rights from the UN!!! 

Provide a copy of Universal Declaration of Human Rights! Click here for over 300 translations of this pivotal document!!!!! 

Share stories of Human Rights! Click here for a list of stories to share from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights!

Join with Amnesty International in your country!!! Click here to unite with Amnesty International's efforts in your country. And click here to view Amnesty International's information related to Human Rights issues in every country or by topic! As Fair Trade organizations, retailers, supporters, activists and consumers we need to unite with their voice to ensure everyone's human rights are respected and upheld regardless of where they reside!!

Fair Trade Retailers, everyone in the Fair Trade supply chain truly understands and deeply appreciates that you are busy with the Christmas rush and the last thing you want is to have one more thing to add to the already busy day for retail, ...but the least we can do is make an effort to recognize the global importance of Human Rights Day. Here are some ideas to make this as interesting yet as painless as possible while dealing with the masses of ethically minded consumers making Fair Trade purchases for the holidays. Keep in mind this is a one day event, so make it simple yet prominent - let the conscientious consumers see that Fair Trade is more than simply purchasing products, but about putting people before profits. 

For Fair Trader producers, supporters and activists not preoccupied with the Christmas holiday, set up a special family event for Saturday, December 10th. Keep in mind, children are the future of Fair Trade so let them know how valued they are in our movement. Put up a large poster of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. UNICEF has this document translated into 58 languages at their child-friendly page: For your convenience, here is a downloadable pdf file of UNICEF's child-friendly English version:
Convention on the Rights of the Child Easy Language Poster

Children of all ages like to take on fun challenges - provide them with poster paper, crayons, color pencils and markers and ask them to draw a poster for their favorite Article in the CRC! The purpose is to have children do more than read their rights, that is boring. Make the CRC come alive and reflect on how it is relevant in their lives! Then vote for the best poster from your young artists... 

Send photos of your winning posters on Child Rights to be published on the Journey for Fair Trade!!!! 

When you have some really great entries select the best, take a photo of the winners and send it to me: journer (at) and I will feature your young Fair Trade artists on my blog! Make sure you send me information about the featured artists as well!! Try to limit the number to one to three winners in your event. Entries from anywhere in the world are welcome.  

Retailers, show solidarity with your trade partners! You can do the same here by having a corner dedicated to children so the adults can do some shopping. The adults will appreciate the temporary relief and the kids would love a corner committed to them. I am certain you can find high school and college students interested in volunteering to help with a child-centered activity! Add steaming cups of Fair Trade hot chocolate, face painting as well as other creative activities and have fun! The more you provide for the kids, the longer the adults can shop - Retailers, you can't lose here!!!  And don't forget to provide each child with their own color copy of the CRC to post up in their home... Make Child Rights a reality to our Fair Trade consumers! 

For young adults, host a ten minute game show - make it a competition between groups of men and  women and see which team can list the most articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights! My bet is the women are able to list more!!! Fortunately the United Nations has translated the UDHR into 131 languages so this activity can be done anywhere: To help, my lovely partner Chou has used her creative talents to provide an English copy of the UDHR here:
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Follow this competition with an introduction to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Begin with inquiring why they think this convention is necessary when the UDHR already exists - it is a great opportunity to dispel a lot of misunderstandings. For help in discussing this convention read A Rights-Based Approach to Fair Trade: Understanding CEDAW.  

"Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible" 
             - UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

This Human Rights Day, let's make a stand as a global movement! Recognize the importance of this day by raising awareness of our shared human rights locally. Fair Trade is founded upon these rights, and it is time Fair Trade unites with the global recognition of Human Rights Day.

Join Chou, Little Journey, and I in making the future a better place for all of us; join in the global celebration of Human Rights Day on Saturday, December 10th!

Mitch Teberg, MA 
International Consultant
Sustainable Development / Fair Trade
Researcher / Trainer / Consultant 

Feel free to add your comments, suggestions, and ideas below; or commit to holding a special event on December 10th. 

For those who prefer reading black on white, here is the downloadable version of this post on pdf:
Fair Trade Celebrates Human Rights Day on December 10th, 2011


  1. Join me and the world on December 10th to celebrate human rights globally. Reflect on your own contribution in small ways to make the world a better place for all.

    Julius Musau Musyoki
    Consultant& Trainer
    Product design/Fair Trade/Community Enterprise/Digital photography/ Innovator
    MOMBASA, Kenya

  2. Purchasing Fair Trade is about better charges, decent working conditions, localized sustainability, and equitable periods of trade for farmers and employees in the developing world. buying Fair Trade is an environmentally and communally conscious decision that permits us to contribute to international sustainability.