What’s Seafood Got To Do With Human Rights? More Than You Think…
December 10, 2020
Do you know what the most translated document in history is? It’s not any religious holy book, and it’s not an ancient masterpiece like The Art of War, and believe it or not, it’s not even Harry Potter.
All of the above have been translated countless times, but not as many as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is available in more than 500 different languages. That answer might surprise you, but it’s a reflection of just how important this document is, and today (10 December) it is celebrating its birthday.
It was 10 December 1948 that the Declaration was adopted by the newly formed United Nations (UN), and it proclaimed the inalienable rights that every human being is entitled to, no matter who they are or where they are (we told you it was important).
As a result, every 10 December is Human Rights Day, a chance to celebrate this achievement but more importantly reflect on what more can be done to ensure that the rights enshrined in the Declaration are actually enjoyed by everyone on earth.
Every year Human Rights Day has a different theme, and this year’s is ‘Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights’. Unsurprisingly the theme relates to the COVID-19 pandemic that has dominated the entire year, and it is a reminder that human rights must be central to our efforts to rebuild after the challenges of 2020. It will be a missed opportunity if we fail to tackle entrenched and systematic inequalities and discrimination as we recover from the pandemic.
Human rights and seafood
But what does this have to do with ASC, or seafood generally? Well, food production doesn’t exist in a vacuum – it can have many direct and indirect consequences, including for the human rights of people around the world. Protecting the environment is one of our fundamental passions at ASC, but we’re just as determined to improve the social side of the seafood industry, and you might be surprised at just how much crossover there is between responsible seafood and Human Rights Day.
As you might have guessed, that also means that what food you choose can help (or hinder) the spread of human rights around the world.
Here are just a few of the aims of this year’s Human Rights Day and how ASC is working to support them.
- End discrimination of any kind
This year has been a reminder of just how important this is, and how much work is left to be done. All of ASC’s standards include social requirements that forbid any kind of discrimination of farm workers and also require positive interactions with local or indigenous communities. This might not seem like much when it comes to fighting global discrimination, but it’s these small steps that can effect more widespread change.
- Address inequalities
Inequalities are always brought to the fore when dealing with crises and reducing them means the world is better prepared to deal with the challenges of tomorrow. Aquaculture is a hugely important industry and employer in many developing regions, and the seafood supply chain also employs a lot of women in these regions. This helps to improve economic realities and reduce inequalities: but only if it’s done responsibly. Damaging the environment only leads to bigger inequalities further down the line, and only farms that treat their workers and neighbours with respect can truly help to reduce inequality.
- Promote sustainable development
It’s probably quite obvious how this relates to ASC, because only farms that are environmentally sustainable and socially responsible can become ASC certified. But what does it have to do with human rights? Because unsustainable development and spiralling climate change will affect us all, but the impact won’t be felt equally everywhere by everyone. It could exacerbate existing inequalities and make it that much harder to ensure everyone enjoys the human rights they’re entitled to.
How you can help
Your shopping choices are a small action when compared with the challenge of international human rights, but a lot of small actions soon add up. Responsible farming can help to reduce inequalities and protect human rights. By choosing ASC certified seafood you are rewarding those farmers who are already acting responsibly, and that could encourage more farmers to follow suit.