BAD2013smlogoHappy Blog Action Day! Today bloggers around the world unite to blog about human rights. (Cool, huh?) So today I’m exploring the connection between Fair Trade and human rights, and how you can support economic justice for all.

First, to set the stage…here’s a widely recognized definition of Fair Trade enumerated in the FINE Principles:

“Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.”


Sounds great to me, but why can’t we just call it trade? Shouldn’t those variables be the jumping off point, not the end goal? I’ll answer my own question with a resounding yes, they should, but they’re not.

Sweatshop workersHere’s what’s really happening in trade today; Child and forced labor and child trafficking in cocoa fields where our chocolate comes from, and a global market economy plagued by sweatshops, human rights violations and environmental degradation.

Hence the need for equitable and fair partnership guidelines between producers, marketers of products and consumers. Hence the need for Fair Trade.

Fair Trade offers solutions to some of the worst forms of human rights abuses in trade today. Abuses that defy basic human rights as outlined in the United Nation’s  Universal Declaration of Human Rights, such as:

  • No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms
  • Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work
  • Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work
  • Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests
  • Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services
  • Everyone has the right to education

 So a vote for economic justice via Fair Trade is a vote for basic human rights.

Take-ActionTAKE ACTION! Here are some actions you can take to explore this topic more and take action:


BAD2013smlogoToday is Blog Action Day, the unifying global day of online action when bloggers around the world write about one topic. This year it’s “human rights.”

The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights Preamble begins,  “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

Without human rights, there can be no peace. So this Blog Action Day, Global Exchange Director of Organizing Kirsten Moller explores why young people are so important to creating a peaceful world.

Children and adult activists at the Healing Walk in Alberta, Canada, July 2013 Photo Credit: Global Exchange

Children and adult activists at the Healing Walk in Alberta, Canada, July 2013 Photo Credit: Global Exchange

Why are Young People So Important to Creating a Peaceful World? 

Early this summer I spoke to a “20- something” who told me that she couldn’t understand how in the world we used to organize before computers… I laughed and showed her the printing and phone expenses in the budget that were double what they are now and even talked about rubber cement, clip art and the t-squares we used to use to lay out flyers. Everything seemed so much slower but there was so much promise that we could activate to bring peace and justice to this world.

Cliché has it may sound, each older generation inevitably points out, “Ok, look at how we messed up the world, now it’s your turn to make it better” and the younger generation rolls their eyes at how naïve and self righteous the previous generation is — whether it be the “Baby Boomers” or the “Peace and Love” generation of the Viet Nam era.

Global Exchange Reality Tour to Guatemala March 2011 Photo Credit: Global Exchange

Global Exchange Reality Tour to Guatemala, March 2011 Photo Credit: Global Exchange

But here now, I see the tremendous potential of new technology to connect young people from around the world in order to cement those people-to-people ties that are at the root of desire to protect human rights, preserve peace and learn about each other.

We’ve never had greater opportunity to learn about each other — to spend time exploring particularities of different cultures and to care about what is possible. Global Exchange is built on the premise that if we know each other — if we break bread together, share our stories, envision the world we want to live in together and work together across borders we can create peace and preserve human rights around the world.

What About Peace Grand Prize WinnerOur “What About Peace?”contest asks the question of 14 – 20 year olds and challenges them to answer using their creativity in writing poetry, prose, or painting a picture, taking a photo or making a drawing or graphic. We’ve been so inspired by the vision and beauty of the contest answers that pour in every year from all around the world. Poetry from Zambia, a photograph from the Ukraine, a short story from Pakistan and our first prize winner a Manga style drawing in colored pencil from upstate New York.

Young people are particularly important to guaranteeing peace and human rights because of the intensity and energy they bring to the vision of a world where peace is possible. Some look to find peace from within, some mourn the violence and intolerance in their communities and the world and pledge to take action, others are disaffected from the political process and want to build the new society now where they live.

Peace-is-Possible-photoBut it is heartening to see how many young people wear a peace sign t-shirt (or tattoo!) proudly front and center and who fervently work to create a new world with tolerance and respect, free from violence, racism and want.

With the What About Peace? contest we seek to develop and recognize that deep sense of compassion that is at the core of international human rights, being able to feel deeply about injustice against anyone, anywhere in the world – trusting in the power of people and especially young people to be actively involved in shaping the policies of governments  that claim to represent them.


We can all benefit from seeing their answers to that question.

BAD2013smlogoOctober 16th is Blog Action Day, an annual online day of action when bloggers (and vloggers and podcasters and more) from around the world focus their attention on one particular global theme and blog about it.

What makes Blog Action Day special is that everyone with access to a computer and internet is welcomed to participate, and deciding what to blog about within the chosen theme is up to participants.

The theme this year is… Human Rights! Earlier this year past Blog Action Day participants took part in a poll to help identify what the theme should be for 2013.

For folks unfamiliar with Blog Action Day, here’s a video that sums it up quite nicely:

Global Exchange has been a proud Blog Action Day Partner for a number of years now. In past years we’ve blogged about “The Power of We”, Food, and Water.

As a human rights organization we couldn’t be more thrilled about this year’s  Human Rights theme which is obviously near and dear to our hearts.

We’re partnering again this year with Blog Action Day to help spread the word about this historic online event and we look forward to blogging about human rights along with many of you come October 16th.

In our Blog Action Day post we’ll be exploring how youth, our next generation of human rights advocates, have a vital role to play in the struggle for human rights. If you need ideas about what to blog about check out this Blog Action Day web page.

Take-ActionAre YOU ready to get involved in Blog Action Day?

Think about it…on October 16th bloggers all over the world will be focusing their attention on human rights, and you have the opportunity to join in. How cool is that?!