The Fair Trade Advantage: The Vision and Principles
By Stella Constance
The Fair Trade Advantage is a vision that encompasses a series of basic ethical principles that promote the raising of any global marginalized community’s standard of living, with a focus on eradicating poverty in any locality, in any world region. The following spectrum is based off Richard Dawkins’ work, 1 which has been adapted to enable one to understand with more clarity the current state of human social economic behavior within and between global communities. The spectrum (sliding scale) below illustrates the economic landscape for the evolution of human social behavior that can help one conceptualize the current social level of one’s personal social behavior compared to that of their local community, indicative of the capacities or limitations to produce a fair peace between individuals and communities.
Social Economic Behaviorial Spectrum
Aggressive <> (hyperterritorial/open aggression)
Tolerant <> (moderately territorial/passive aggression)
Cooperative <> (lightly territorial/fair trade)
Social <> (fully integrative)
So, is being “tolerant” enough? Canada is known globally as being a “tolerant” country. But, for how long can that passive aggressive social behavior keep a country unified? Is it possible for individuals and communities to progress to the next stage of human social development – that of being “cooperative”, through the practice of the fair trade vision and principles within families and communities at large?
When did poverty become acceptable – the norm? Poverty creates vulnerability and accessibility to control/exploit any social group targets. So, why do some social groups promote or induce poverty onto others, even to members of their own relations? In essence, poverty is a passive aggressive method used to control target groups, through socially and economically disabling them. Whereas, fair trade ethical principles helps create healthier relationship-building practices and lifestyles for both parties, through more mutually beneficial, long-term social interactions.
The fair trade concept encompasses the value that all lives matter. This vision promotes fair peace for all inhabitants in any region. The practice of fair trade in other areas in the world is proven to produce safer social and physical environments, while also protecting the cultures, due to standardizing fair trade practices in business /social transactions between the stakeholders (the buyers and producers). It puts a higher value not just on the product or service produced, but also a premium on fair partnerships, that advance relationship-building amongst its community members and strengthens their intercultural competencies for more positive and sustainable cultural interactions. It empowers fair trade stakeholders to build a new fairer relationship that makes obsolete the centuries-old “victim-bully” social and economic dichotomies. The creation of a healthier economic and social environment strongly encourages all stakeholders to become a part of the larger local fair trade supporting community. The fair trade vision and principles help plug in all marginalized people, including the world’s First Nations and all migrant group members, into mainstream society. Fair trade creates a culture of respect through cultivating a society of mindfulness towards all others.
The fair trade vision can be effectively promoted, supported and established for the long-term, locally and worldwide, through the adoption of the following basic ethical principles2 to assist in creating the new norm for mainstream social economic interactions:
- Democratic organization – … [stakeholders, particularly producers] must be able to exercise control … by being organized into cooperative, democratic associations or in other ways appropriate to particular settings.
- Recognized labor groups – …ownership is vested in others … [with workers having the right to organize and negotiate through these fair trade organizations or partnerships].
- No child labor.
- Decent working conditions – the above measures help to create good working conditions and pay [living wages].
- Environmental Sustainability – [environmental sustainability supports best practices that maintain a healthy environment for the establishment of a physically and mentally healthy human and animal population.]
- Price that covers the cost of production [and investment] – this usually means providing a minimum-price guarantee, regardless of world commodity prices.
- Social premiums to improve conditions – fair trade is a different kind of transaction, and so in many cases a premium is paid that doesn’t go directly to individual producers but to their organizations for … [community development projects, such as classroom enrichment, health services, etc.].
- Long-term relationships.
In Part 2 of the Fair Trade series, we will be exploring the governance and practice of Fair Trade, in helping to lay the foundations for fair peace amongst heterogeneous and homogeneous world populations for a more economically just and long-term sustainable societies.
- Dawkins, Richard. Brief Candle in the Dark. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2015.
- Ransom, David. The No-Nonsense Guide to Fair Trade. Oxford, UK. New Internationalist Publications, 2001.