How Does Fairtrade Mitigate Human Rights Violations in Global Supply Chains?

From the global COVID-19 pandemic to the continued fight for racial justice and gender equality. From destabilizing climate challenges to staggering displacement. It’s clear that the struggle for universal human dignity is far from over.

These struggles have raised many questions about different actors’ roles and responsibilities.

Why do some businesses continue their pervasive use of vast and opaque supplier networks, prioritizing efficiency of cost and time over sustainability and transparency? How can governments fulfill their responsibilities to protect human rights? What is the role of private standard setting initiatives like Fairtrade?

This is the backdrop for Fairtrade’s publication “How Does Fairtrade Mitigate Human Rights Violations in Global Supply Chains?

The publication offers three cases to discuss the human rights challenges that are salient in Fairtrade’s work:

  • Bringing a living income to cocoa smallholder farmers and workers in West Africa;
  • Remediating child labour on sugar cane farms in Belize; and
  • Addressing the implications of climate change in coffee production in Central America.

It also reflects on Fairtrade’s alignment with the human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD) approach.

  • Is Fairtrade about box ticking or continuous improvement? – The latter
  • Is there evidence of Fairtrade advancing human rights? – Yes, from independent research
  • Does Fairtrade admit where it has room for improvement – Yes
  • Is HREDD still needed if a company sources Fairtrade? – Yes

Further, it discusses how Fairtrade can support Northern and Southern companies at each step of their HREDD work.

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