Fair Trade and Human Rights: A Celebration of Human Rights Day

Alexandra Carroll December 10, 2015

What is Human Rights Day all about?images

Human Rights Day is celebrated on December 10th each year to commemorate the 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. This document was the first enunciation of the inherent and inalienable rights due to each person simply because she or he is a human being. This year, Human Rights Day also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966. The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, and set out the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings.

How does Fair Trade promote Human Rights?

7Human rights correspond to the demands of human dignity and entail the fulfillment of the essential needs of the human person in all spheres of life. The principles of Fair Trade promote several of the norms vital to any articulation of human rights. Many of the requirements for a Fair Trade certification are also called for in International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These include the standard of a guaranteed price minimum for producer cooperatives, for example which fulfills the right to work and economic development found in article 6 of the covenant. Additionally, the call in article 7 of the covenant for the enjoyment of just and favorable conditions of work which ensure equal remuneration for both women and men as well as safe and healthy working conditions are also standards articulated in the principles of Fair Trade.

Lastly, Fair Trade standards ensure what article 11 of the covenant calls the “right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for herself and her family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.” One cooperative in Nicaragua achieved this standard of living thanks to the benefits of Fair Trade. The increased revenue allowed the community to install functioning bathrooms and bring enough doctors to serve over 900 people.

How can YOU use Fair Trade as a way to support human rights?

  1. BUY: How can you impact the human rights of producers around the world? By purchasing Fair Trade products and supporting the Fair Trade movement by signing up for the Fair Trade Campaigns newsletter or by  starting a Fair Trade campaign in your community!
  2. LEARN:  Interested in learning more about Human Rights and the work being done to assure those rights to all people? Visit the website for the UN Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights  for more information.
  3. TAKE ACTION: Be sure to also check out some of the awesome ways you can celebrate Human Rights Day this Thursday, December 10! Don’t forget to bring the Fair Trade chocolate and show your support of #HumanRightsDay -happy celebrating!
Sudanese women and girls march in El Fasher, in North Darfur to celebrate UN Photo/Oliver Chassot

Sudanese women and girls march in El Fasher, in North Darfur to celebrate UN Photo/Oliver Chassot


  1. This is an especially important blog with the many negative stories of human rights violations that we see every day. There is good being done all over the world in support of Human Rights. Fair Trade is a major contribution to this effort and I am so proud of the efforts of the World Fair Trade movement to help to turn this world around! PEACE

    bmarton - 3 years ago
  2. This piece demonstrates a clear connection between Fair Trade principles and the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It would be interesting to see University/College organizers speak to this issue in their communities in the future.

    vcurbelo - 3 years ago

You must log in to join the discussion. If you are not already a member registering is easy.

Alexandra Carroll, Fair Trade Communities Fellow - New England

Alexandra is a graduate student at Boston College studying Theological Ethics and Human Rights. A California native, she first got involved with Fair Trade when she was a student at Saint Mary’s College of California, where she served as the student lead for the Saint Mary’s Fair Trade campaign, which was awarded in May 2014. Dedicated to issues of social justice, Alexandra has worked with Catholic Relief Services, Habitat for Humanity, as well as small non-profits throughout the San Francisco and Boston areas. Further inspired by time spent living and studying in Nicaragua, Fair Trade has become a major passion for Alexandra, both as a focus of her academic and personal interests. Alexandra currently resides in Boston, MA and is looking forward to furthering the Fair Trade movement throughout New England.