December 10th marks World Human Rights Day, a celebration of the day that the United National General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration set out, for the first time in history, the fundamental human rights that must be universally protected. These include: all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person, no one shall be held in slavery or servitude, all are equal before the law, everyone has the right to a nationality, and everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
2023 is a landmark year in the history of the declaration: the 75th anniversary of the most translated document in the world. To mark the occasion, we’re spotlighting a selection of brilliant brands and organisations that are working to change systematic injustice.
Human Rights Watch
Headquartered in New York City but operating worldwide, Human Rights Watch investigates and reports on human rights abuses happening around the world. The team of over 550 country experts, lawyers, journalists and professionals use their research to advocate for a better future, meeting with everyone from rebel groups to governments to ensure that “policy is changed, laws are enforced, and justice is served.” HRW’s work is expansive, covering everything from international wars and LGBTQ+ discrimination to pandemics and government oppression.
Like HRW, Amnesty International focuses its efforts broadly, researching and campaigning across a range of issues from war to climate change. Everything is underpinned by human rights, whether it's calls for ceasefires, demanding the release of political prisoners, supporting asylum seekers, or defending the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We recently announced that we’ve partnered with fellow B Corp Outland Denim to stock a range of their styles. The brand was founded to provide safe and dignified work for survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, who have been subject to several human rights abuses. By providing training, a living wage, education, and personal development, Outland Denim offers a life beyond exploitation while also raising awareness of the issues amongst its customers.
Human Rights Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand
The Human Rights Foundation promotes and defends human rights both in Aotearoa New Zealand and abroad. Its actions include making submissions on new laws with human rights implications, monitoring New Zealand’s compliance with human rights, educating the public, and tracking human rights news. In the past, the foundation has helped individuals gain refugee status and produced reports for the UN to improve human rights performance in New Zealand.
Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerry’s is a huge global company which isn’t afraid to speak out on important human rights issues. The ice cream brand creates awareness campaigns, provides resources such as petitions and fact sheets, and runs the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, a social justice organisation. It lists the rights and dignity of refugees, LGBTQ+ rights, Fairtrade, our climate, and climate justice as the issues it cares about as a brand.
Labour Behind The Label
Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights concerns work and working conditions. It states everyone has the right to free choice of employment, to equal pay for equal work, to just and favourable remuneration, and the right to form and join trade unions. These rights are often not upheld within the fashion supply chain, so Labour Behind The Label campaigns for workers’ rights worldwide. From campaigning for a living wage to calling for true supply chain transparency, the organisation works with trade unions and other human rights organisations to demand better from both brands and governments.
Modern slavery affects millions of people. In fact, almost 50 million people are currently trapped in slavery worldwide, roughly a quarter of whom are children. Types of modern slavery include human trafficking, forced labour, bonded labour (forced to work to pay off debt), being born into slavery, child slavery, forced marriage, and domestic servitude. Anti-Slavery International works to combat all types of modern slavery and to date it has achieved impacts such as eliminating the state-imposed forced labour in the 2021 Uzbek cotton harvest.
United Repair Centre
Supported by Patagonia (known for its focus on people and planet) and the local government, United Repair Centre in Amsterdam “strives to make it easy for leading apparel brands in Europe to achieve their circularity goals”. The company repairs clothes on behalf of brands, prolonging the life of garments and improving brands’ sustainability and circularity credentials in the process. But what sets it apart is that its repair experts are all refugees or young adults and job seekers with “a distance to the labour market.” Not only is the company providing vital jobs and training, it’s building out the circular economy – hitting two targets in one.
Reporters Without Borders
Fair and honest reporting is vital for upholding human rights because it’s how the global community is made aware of abuses in the first place. The freedom to seek, receive, and impart information is also a human right in itself, so Reporters Without Borders exists to promote and defend the freedom to be informed and to inform others around the world. The non-profit’s work includes creating and publishing the annual World Press Freedom Index to measure the state of press freedom in 180 countries, obtaining the unblocking of censored websites and providing guarantees for freedom of opinion and expression, insuring journalists on high-risk missions to providing protective equipment, and providing training in physical and digital safety.
We’re always proud to spotlight others but we’d also like to take this opportunity to tell you about some of the actions we take in-house. The Untouched World Foundation educates 3000+ young adults on key issues facing society, unlocking their unique leadership potential and inspiring them to become active change-makers on how we can make the most positive impact on our world.
Our Blumine Island Biodiversity programme - which achieved its goal to restore Blumine Island to is original, predator-free state in 2010 - teaches students what needs to be done to help the native flora and fauna thrive on the island; Waterwise Canterbury and Waterwise Otago give students the opportunity to explore the primary issues relating to water and learn about sustainable water management and leadership and finally our Advanced Leadership Programme takes graduate students from the aforementioned programmes and develops their skills further still, springboarding them into further education or employment. In addition, the manufacture of our Protect U collection works with Joyya to support women in Kolkata, India, escape a life of poverty and prostitution.
The theme for Human Rights Day 2023 is “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All”. Find articles, graphics and resources to share to mark the occasion here.