Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day

by Alberte Egholm
"No justice no peace" sign

Happy International Human Rights Day!

In this blog post, we zoom in on the internationally marked day and how the day relates to tourism. 

Every year on December 10, the world celebrates Human Rights Day.

On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR consists of a preamble and 30 articles that set out a broad range of fundamental human rights and freedoms to which all of us worldwide are entitled. It guarantees our rights without distinction of nationality, place of residence, gender, national or ethnic origin, religion, language, or other status.

Human Rights and Tourism 

Tourism - Human rights day

When we travel, we are open to new sights, sounds, and foods. We are open to meeting new people and expanding our global understanding.

But what does this have to do with Human Rights? 

As with many things, tourism has the potential to be a force for good. In these cases, it can help strengthen and support human rights in different destination countries. Yet, in the worst cases, tourism can risk supporting economies of regimes and systems that do not respect human rights, worsening the conditions. 

Looking at the world through a human rights lens includes paying attention to and recognizing how people are treated. This includes what conditions people live under in different countries and whether people can live safely and in dignity and fulfill their potential. These questions should be considered by a tourist when visiting destinations. 

If we are to travel the world better and more respectfully, we have to consider how we, as visitors, can be givers and not just takers when we travel.  Most often, the more travelers know about the countries they visit, the more they can make a positive difference when they travel. 

Research beforehand and support where you can

Do your research - Human rights day

As a tourist, educating yourself and researching the human rights conditions in the destinations you visit is a good idea. By doing this, you, as a tourist, can make more of a difference where it matters the most. Use the internet to find out about the conditions of where you are traveling to. For example, you can use tools such as Rights Tracker or visit the Amnesty International website. 

Travelers can make a difference in countries where the government is not doing enough to respect or improve human rights. They can do this by prioritizing supporting local businesses, organizations, and boutique hotels instead of funding government agencies or international cooperations.

In addition, travelers can support local organizations and NGOs trying to help the people who are ignored or may experience discrimination. Look into whether the groups and the organizations you support when traveling respect and support indigenous people, women and girls, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and others who may be discriminated against. As a traveler, you can also find out beforehand what labor conditions and wages apply to the country you visit. If these do not respect human rights, consider paying more than the minimum for some goods and services.  

Educate yourself and make a judgment as a tourist 

Educate yourself - Human rights day

Lastly, apply the human rights lens and consider whether or not you want to ‘support’ a destination. This can be difficult as visiting a specific destination often has pros and cons. Visiting countries where human rights are not ideally respected can risk supporting corrupt or oppressive regimes. Yet, the differences that tourists can bring to the local people of such destinations, both economically and by making the local people feel heard and seen, can bring positivity to many and help improve lives. The judgment can be challenging. But, as tourists, what we can do is educate ourselves about the situation and human rights conditions of the countries we choose to visit. 

Remember, being a responsible traveler includes choosing eco-conscious operators, supporting local communities, and minimizing your environmental impact. Always research and prioritize destinations, operators, and hotels that prioritize conservation.

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