Happy International Human Rights Day 2022!
This blog post is part of the “‘What’s it got to do with tourism?” series, where we zoom in on important international marked days and other special occasions and focus on examples of how these relate to tourism.
Every year on December 10, the world celebrates Human Rights Day, the day when, 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 any other status.
This year’s Human Rights Day slogan is “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All” and the call to action is #StandUp4HumanRights
Human Rights and Tourism
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 and, in these cases, 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, which can worsen human rights conditions.
Looking at the world through a human rights lens includes paying attention to and recognizing how people are treated and what conditions people live under in different countries. This includes whether people are able to live their lives in safety and dignity and fulfill their potential. These questions should be considered by a tourist when visiting destinations.
If we are to travel the world in a better and more respectful way, 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 will be able to make a positive difference when they travel.
Research beforehand and support where you can
As a tourist, it is a good idea to educate yourself and research the human rights conditions in the destinations you visit. By doing this, you, as a tourist, can make more of a difference where it matters the most and is necessary. Use the internet to find out about the conditions of where you are traveling to. You can use tools such as Rights Tracker or visit the websites of for example Amnesty International.
In countries where the government is not doing enough to respect or improve human rights, travelers can make a difference by prioritizing supporting local businesses and organizations as well as boutique hotels instead of supporting government agencies and hotels or international cooperations. In addition, travelers can support local organizations trying to help and improve the lives of groups that 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
Lastly, apply the lens of human rights and consider with yourself whether or not you want to ‘support’ a destination. This can be difficult as there will often be pros and cons to visiting a destination. If you choose to visit countries where human rights are not ideally respected, you 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 their lives.
The judgment can be challenging. Nonetheless, as tourists, what we at least can do is educate ourselves about the situation and human rights conditions of the countries we choose to visit.